Ants are among the most common creatures found on our planet and are known for their impressive strength and resilience. They live in diverse habitats ranging from deserts to rainforests, and can be found almost everywhere in the world. Ants have been around since the days of the dinosaurs, and they’ve developed a complex social system that allows them to thrive in almost any environment.
Ants in Port Charlotte FL
Fire Ants in Florida
- Two Nodes 1/16 to 1/4 inch long.
- Color ranges from reddish-brown with a darker abdomen to yellowish-red with a black abdomen to solid black depending on the species.
- Many worker sizes. Any ant trail of red & brown ants with various sizes are likely fire ants.
- They aggressively sting and some people are allergic to their stings.
Some Key Biology aspects of the Fire Ant
- There are three species: The most important of them and are prevalent in Florida are the imported fire ant. This ant is dominant in the south from North Carolina to Texas and has isolated infestations in California. Another notable fire ant is the southern fire ant and it occurs in the same ranges as the imported fire ant but is primary in California and southern Arizona. Last but not least is the tropical fire ant is found in Hawaii.
- Fire ants build distinctive dome-shaped mounds ranging 12 to 24 inches above
the ground and they can range from a few inches to several feet deep.
- During dry periods fire ants retreat underground and are hard to notice.
- During heavy rainfall mounds can appear literally overnight.
- Mounds can sometimes be hard to see being hidden under leaf litter or sod and
- Imported fire ants have been known to nest on the rooftops of commercial
structures and invade the floors below.
- An average colony contains 100,000 to 500,000 worker ants, but a single queen is
usually the rule, but in recent years there have been nests found with multiple
queens and becoming more common.
- Fire ants will feed on items such as insects, honeydew, plant nectar, seeds, fruit
and animal carcasses.
- Fire ants forage in distinct trails through lawns and on pavement and foundations
- Colonies are mobile, colonies move the nest usually every few months and on
occasions will relocate into a structure.
- Fire ants are a problem in many parts of the world and can be extremely pesky.
- They are small, black insects that live in colonies and have a strong mandibular
- They cause damage by raiding homes for food and shelter, as well as sucking
blood from humans or animals.
- Their bites can swell quickly and produce intense pain. If you’re concerned about fire ants, it’s important to take appropriate action to prevent them from entering your home.
Fire Ant Inspection Tips
- Look for visible mounds
- Check perimeter foundations and landscape beds
- Look for trails and attempt to follow it back to the nesting areas
- Inside the fire ants will follow along the edges of carpet around the walls, the
colonies are generally outside near the foundation or under the slab.
- Fire ants can be attracted by drops of jelly, Gel ant baits or granular baits. after 15 to 20
minuets ant trails feeding on this can be tracked back to the nesting areas.
- Very small 1/16 of an inchThey have a dark brown head and thorax but the
abdomen, legs, and antennae are pale in color.
- Ghost ants will run rapidly and erratically when disturbed.
Key Biology points of the Ghost Ant
- Ghost ants are found in Florida and Hawaii along the gulf coast areas.
- Ghost ants are opportunistic nesters. They can be found nesting in such places
as small cracks and crevices to include spaces between books and in potted plants.
- Outdoor sites include areas under bark, palm fronds, leaf litter, tree holes, hollow
plant stems, fence posts, bark mulch, under stones, and hollow parts of screen enclosures .
- Ghost ants feed on things such as dead and live insects, sweet honeydew produced by the aphids on plants and mealybugs.
Inspection tips for Ghost Ants
- Potential nesting sites can be found in any landscape feature.
- Pull Turf/vegetation away from foundations, trees, and pavement to expose the colonies.
- Check expansion joints and where two slabs of concrete meet for possible entry points as well as where walls and floors meet and around windows openings and sills of windows.
- Check hollows of screen enclosures, metal fence poles, awnings, etc for ants.
Conducive conditions for Ghost Ants
- A conducive condition is any area that provides needed elements to meet the needs for survival and nesting.
- Remove/minimize thick layers of mulch or leaf litter that has accumulated near a structure.
- Trim any trees or vegetation that makes contact with walls or roof.
- Remove piles of debris from your property.
- Trailing these guys back to the nesting area is difficult but control is hard without the proper knowledge and equipment to gain the control.
- Varying sizes 1/4 to 1/2 inch.
- Varying Color —– orangish to reddish-brown and two species are bi-colored.
- Head has two rows of long hairs underneath.
Some Key Biology Points of the Harvester Ant
- Only one species of this ant can be found ease of the Mississippi river; 21 species occur from TX/OK to CA.
- Some species will create low-lying mounds; all species strip vegetation in a large
clearing around nest entrances.
- Nests can go up to 10ft deep into the ground and contain 10 entryways.
- This ant does not invade structures but are pests in yards.
- Most species are monomorphic– having or existing in only one form–. The
- Florida harvester ant is polymorphic –occurring in several different forms, in
particular with reference to species or genetic variation— and can deliver a painful sting.
- Harvester ants primarily feed on seeds, but will also eat insects.
- Nests can be located by looking for bare soil areas.
Little Black Ants
- Very tiny 1/16 inch
- Shiny, jet black in color
Key Biology Points of the little black ants
- The workers prey on insects and feed on honeydew (from aphids and related species)
- Little black ants colonies consist of almost exclusively of workers and brood with up to 2000 workers and many queens
- Little black ants generally nest in areas such as voids, rock and lumber piles, fences, stone walls, porch column, potted plants, Etc.
- Little black ants will invade homes in large numbers from outside nests in and around trees
- Once inside buildings they nest in areas such as moldings, wall voids, masonry and under carpets.
- Most colonies invade from outdoors. Follow trails to help locate the nesting areas
- Look for trails on walls to detect the entry points on the structure.
Issues that may contribute to infestations
- Trim tree/shrubbery away from buildings
- Remove stumps, dead wood/limbs and piles of items around the property
Odorous House Ant
- About 1/8 inch long
- Dark Brown; give off the odor of rotten coconuts when crushed.
Some Key Biology Points
- Most common in the mid south, mid west coastal states
- The colonies can grow quite large and have many queens. Nests consist of numerous, widely spread sub-colonies tied together by trails.
- They create shallow nests in soil usually under items they will also infest items such as mulch and yard debris.
- These ants can be easily be transported in potted plants, turf, garbage and other items.
Potential ant sites can consist of any outside areas where items contact the soil.
- About 1/8 inch long
- Brown to black; one pair of spines on the thorax.
Some Key Biology points
- Pavement ants derive their name from excavating soil from beneath driveways
- They have a single queen with up to 10,000 workers.
- These ants may also take up refuge in old termite damaged wood.
- They will usually swarm in the spring appearing a few dozen at a time.
- Look for mounds of displaced soil next to driveways, sidewalks and stones.
- You may turnover items to expose their colonies.
- Check where heat pipes, ducts, or other utility pipes enter a structure.
- Small, about 1/12 inch long
- Yellowish to light brown to reddish in colors
- The queens are darker than the workers and twice the size
Key Biology Points
- Common in Florida
- They are spread by hitch-hiking on items such as furniture, boxes and supplies being transported. They can occure in almost any type of structure.
- Colonies can be very large and consist of hundreds of queens making them hard to control, having up to 30,000 workers and multiple wide spread sub-colonies
- They will nest in almost any suitable space with a void or cover.
- Once these ants enter a structure they will begin splitting off into many sub-colonies throughout the structure.
- They will travel between colonies by way of wires conduits, plumbing pipes or other continuous items reaching across a structure.
- They generally prefer to nest as close to a water source as possible.
- In sub-tropical areas such as florida these ants can live outdoors.
- They will forage extensively outside during warm weather but they will also infest areas such as kitchen areas where food and debri such as sweets, sugar and other types of food can be found.
- Outside, trails may be seen on pool enclosures, window sills, soffits, fences, gutters and decks
- Inside trails can be seen along cabinets and counters and are commonly noted by customers exiting from wall outlets and light fixtures
- Because this ant is most active at night, pest control professionals will not find many of the trails the customers may see. For this reason, having the customer show the areas where they have been sighted is important for treatment placement.
- These ants are best controlled by using comprehensive bait placement and monitoring.
Keeping a clean kitchen and removal of dead bugs in an environment can make control faster and more complete.