“Did you know that on average, an ant can carry between 10 and 50 times its own body weight, and run at approximately 300 metres an hour!!”
National Geographic states that ants are common insects, but they have some unique capabilities. More than 10,000 known ant species occur around the world. They are especially prevalent in tropical forests, where they may be up to half of all the insects living in some locations.
There are approximately 1400 species of Ants known in Australia. Ants are amazing creatures who are social insects that live in large colonies. In their natural environment, they play an important role as predators and scavengers, and assist in the recycling of nutrients in the soil. However, in our world, Ants are often regarded as ‘nuisance’ pests in and around buildings. Small mounds resulting from their excavations may be considered unsightly along garden paths, on balconies and around skirting boards and architrave bases in your home. As well as general ‘nuisance’ aspects, ants may present a health risk. There have been instances where ants have mechanically carried, on their bodies, or in the digestive tract, disease organisms causing dysentery and small pox, as well as a variety of pathogenic bacteria, including salmonella.
According to a Brisbane Times Article (published 8 August 2015), QLD has been crowned the territory with the most native species of ants in the world. Even beating out areas such as South America, New Guinea & Central Africa, which would for certain be quite surprising to some!
Here are the most common ant species we encounter in South-East Queensland:
Black House Ant
These ants are shiny, black, and around 2mm-3mm long. Their larvae hatch out of an egg as a grub. After some time (can be up to six weeks), the larvae will pupate (usually become a cream or white colour) and looks like an adult. The adult emerges with it’s defined body sections – head, thorax and abdomen. Black ants are usually found in kitchens, garbage, and also dog faeces, scavenging. They are a ‘sweet feeder’ attracted to sweet food sources.
Coastal Brown Ant
These ants are yellow-brown to brown in colour, and are not overly large at 1.5mm to 2.5mm long. Larvae hatch from small eggs, then after several moults, the larvae pupates into three different castes:
- Workers (nest builders, supply the food to the colony, feed larvae and defend the nest/colony)
- Females are the largest in size and will lose their wings after mating. The females will become the Queen (to reproduce) and live for years
- Males exist only to mate with the female ant
They nest in soil and will excavate along pathways, gardens and walls. They are attracted to foods including meats, fruit, sweet items and greasy food.
Other ant species which can be found in South-East Queensland include Argentine Ants (aggressive, large ants which can be found driving other ants out of where they are located), Bulldog Ants (red or black large ants with a powerful sting usually found outdoors under logs), Garden Ants (dark brown/black in colour, larger than Coastal Brown Ants, and their colonies appear as holes surrounded by a powdered soil), and Odourous House Ants (brown or black, very small, found in the kitchen and feed on sugary foods).
Ants look much like termites, but there are some significant differences. Ants have a narrow "waist" between the abdomen and thorax, which termites do not. Ants also have large heads, elbowed antennae, and powerful jaws.
Effective control of ants often relies on a knowledge of their nesting habits. At the broad level, a knowledge of the nesting habits and feeding habits can be most helpful. More specifically, where a given infestation is being treated, a thorough survey and inspection should be carried out. By following trails – particularly, where possible, those of workers loaded with food – the location of the nest, either approximately or precisely may be determined. Direct treatment of the nest/s, where possible, can provide the most effective, long term control. The use of chemical barriers that interfere between the nest/s and possible food sources add to effective control.
Ants continue to be one of the most problematic pests that we experience each year. Recent years has seen the introduction of many ant control products including gel baits, new and improved insecticides, as well as granular products which target specific species depending on their preferred meal source (sweet feeding, protein feeding or lipid feeding). It is an exciting time for not just pest managers but also as consumers knowing that we have the absolute best products available to us to ensure your needs are met and maintained when it comes to controlling these pesky insects.
If Ants are driving you crazy in your home, or you would like some friendly advice, give us a call we’re always happy to help!