The most common nuisance pests in the United States are ants. We bet you already knew that though. If you’ve never experienced ants in your home before, you are part of a very small minority of homeowners. Nearly all Americans have experienced some sort of ant infestation in their home or yard at some point in their lives. If you live in the Northern part of Alabama, here are some of the ants you have probably come in contact with most often. While most people worry about the possibility of being bitten or stung by ants, they also frequently spread disease as they feed on insect or animal carcasses and then walk across the surfaces we use to prepare food.
Dark Rover Ants
This species of ant can be found in your soil outside. However, they will oftentimes enter your home looking for a food source and a place to nest. They often nest in walls of homes or buildings and search for sweet food sources like food remnants or sugar inside, or honeydew on plants outside. Their colonies can be quite large, and can cause infestation issues quickly for homeowners. However, one of the few good side benefits is that this species does tend to suppress red fire ants somewhat because they outcompete them when it comes to food sources.
Argentine ant colonies can populate many different habitats. They have documented Argentine ants from the northern parts of Canada down through South America. They can live in many habitats, but they thrive in the temperate moist conditions we have here in Alabama. This means their population can become very big, very quick. Their desired food sources range from a wide variety of things, they will eat other insects, plant sugars, as well as loving any chance to get into human foods. Their nests can be found in rotting wood, soil, debris, leaf piles, tree limbs, potted plants and more. When they infest homes and businesses, it can be very tough to get rid of them due to their large population and long lifespans. Another challenge with Argentine ants is they have multi-queen colonies, and multiple nest sites as part of one colony. This can make control take longer than normal as we have to eliminate each of the nests in order to eliminate the whole problem, and often after eliminating nests on a homeowners property, their neighbors will have nests that continue to attempt to invade and expand their colony locations. Because of their constant desire to invade, having a regular ongoing service is a must to maintain control over these ants.
Pharaoh Ants are an interesting species of ant because they typically have many queens that build different nests by budding. Budding is when they send a signal that their current nest is in danger or harm, and so the queen turns several regular ants into new queen ants and sends them off with a group of workers to make new colonies. Pharaoh Ants typically will send a distress signal whenever they detect any type of treatment being applied to kill the colony. We have to use specialized products and techniques to eliminate these ants. When homeowners use products from the hardware store to try and kill them, it often just makes the problem spread and become much worse!
Pharaoh Ants are omnivores and will eat most any type of food including other small insects, sweets and leafy greens. Their trail can be in hidden places such as your attic, wall voids, or under baseboards, making them difficult to spot. If you notice a couple of ants in your pantry and shrug it off as no big deal, they could very well be Pharaoh Ants with many thousands of ants nesting somewhere inside your home. They are a pink to a reddish brown color, and are some of the smallest sized ant species, which helps identify them.
Black Carpenter Ants
Black Carpenter Ants are just one of the 10 different species of carpenter ants found in the state of Alabama. They get their name from their ability to excavate wood to create galleries (ant apartments) for their nesting sites. Their common nesting sites are living and dead trees, fences, wood components of buildings like walls, rafters, soffit and fascia, and poles. These ants can cause a multitude of problems when they infest your home or building’s structure. In the process of creating their galleries in the wood, they can damage the wood to the point that it is no longer structurally sound. Sometimes these structural problems are misdiagnosed as termite damage by homeowners, when in all actuality it is caused by carpenter ants. This species is large in size with some ants being nearly a ½ inch in length, and they are a dark black in coloration.
Fire ants are known for their red and black appearance and painful bites or stings. They are believed to have infiltrated the United States sometime during the 1930s in Mobile, AL and have since spread throughout the Southern and Midwestern states. They tend to nest in warm, sunny spots such as open fields, pastures and lawns, however, they will frequently enter buildings and homes looking for food. They will often make colonies that are partially exposed and partially under the foundation of a home or under a driveway or sidewalk. Red fire ants that are not controlled can kill small livestock such as calves, and they destroy many native plants and animals. For example they have been devastating to the quail population here in the South.
Fire Ants are most noticeable by their dirt mounds that are used to form their nests. These mounds will have various tunnels, and they will raise the mound up higher after a rain, and lower the mound deep into the ground when it is hot and dry. They have tunnels all around the mound area, and will normally have at least one tunnel that goes down to where the water table is. Their colony numbers can grow from 100,000 on the small size to upwards of a half of a million ants. If you’ve ever stepped on a fire ant bed, you have probably seen hundreds of ants pouring out looking to attack. Fire Ant stings are very painful and leave a red blister behind that can itch for a few days. For individuals who are allergic, stings can be very harmful and may require immediate medical attention to prevent anaphylactic shock.
If you are experiencing an ant infestation at your home or business in Huntsville, Alabama, contact Scout Pest Control today for a free quote!