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Archive for the ‘Ants’ Category

How Many Carpenter Ant Species Infest Structural Woods Within Louisiana Homes? Where Are These Species Distributed?

Numerous insect pests that bore into structural woods can be found within Louisiana. Ants and beetles make up the vast majority of these wood-boring pest species. Unlike wood-hungry termites, nearly all of these structural ant and beetle pests bore into processed lumber solely for nesting purposes. Carpenter ants are the most significant structural ant pests in the US, and several carpenter ant species have been documented within Louisiana. Considering the termite pest issues that plague Louisiana homeowners nearly all year round, carpenter ants are easily overshadowed by termites in the state. However, the most commonly encountered and most economically significant carpenter ant species in the US, the black carpenter ant, inflicts significant damage to structural woods within residential and urban structures in Louisiana.

The exact number of carpenter ant species dwelling within Louisiana is not known to experts, but statewide surveys have turned up between 15 and 20 species in Mississippi and Texas. Although carpenter ants are the largest-bodied ants in the world, experts have a difficult time discerning carpenter ants from the similar looking Formica ants. Most carpenter ant species in Louisiana do not infest structural wood, and all carpenter ant species infest natural wood sources. However, many carpenter ant species in the state occasionally infest structural wood sources that have undergone considerable decay, but these infestations are not generally considered to be of significant economic importance.

Carpenter ant species seek out human food sources within homes where they can establish nuisance infestations. The black carpenter ant is the only carpenter ant species in Louisiana that is considered a serious structural pest, but nine other species in the state are considered occasional structural pests. These less-damaging carpenter ant species include the red carpenter ant, the American carpenter ant and the Florida carpenter ant. Most carpenter ant species in Louisiana, including the destructive black carpenter ant, have become known for their seasonal nuisance swarms that often occur within or near homes in the state. The black carpenter ant is distributed all over Louisiana, and this species is usually quite difficult to eradicate from infested homes.

Were you aware that Louisiana contains numerous insect pests that infest structural woods? Get A Free Inspection today!

Which Ant Species In Louisiana Establish Nests Within Homes? What Motivates Ants To Nest Indoors?

In the natural environment, ants are essential components of a balanced ecosystem due to their habit of tunneling through soil, which allows rainwater, oxygen and nutrients to be absorbed by plant roots. Unfortunately, in human environments, many ant species are considered a nuisance, and some pest species pose a medical threat to humans, while others inflict costly damage to structural wood in homes.

More than 12,000 ant species have been documented worldwide, but only a small minority of these species are considered pests. Ant species in Louisiana are particularly abundant and diverse, as most of the world’s ant species thrive within subtropical regions where the climate is characterized by frequent bouts of rainfall and high humidity. Of course, the state is also home to numerous ant pest species, including pavement ants, odorous house ants, and Pharaoh ants, as well as several invasive ant species, most notably red-imported fire ants and Argentine ants.

When a home becomes infested with ants, pest control professionals must first accurately identify the ant species in order to select the proper method of control. Ants generally prefer to establish nests outdoors, but if a home contains superior shelter and easily accessible food sources, they are likely to establish indoor nests. Many ant pest species can establish nests both indoors and outdoors, while others can only establish nests outdoors. Multiple indoor nests are almost always secondary nests, which are referred to as “satellite nests,” while the primary nest, or “parent nest,” is generally located outdoors in close proximity to the infested home.

The ant pest species that are known for establishing indoor nests include acrobat ants, thief ants, odorous house ants, and unfortunately, red-imported fire ants. Red-imported fire ants establish extensive nests within residential yards more often than in homes, and destructive carpenter ants establish nests in wall voids, within structural wood, or both. The Pharaoh ant is one of very few ant pest species in Louisiana that establish nests almost exclusively indoors, and their nests are usually located within hard-to-access areas located near heat and moisture sources. Argentine ants, little black ants, crazy ants and a variety of tramp ants rarely nest within homes; instead, their nests are most often found near trash piles, beneath pavement, in lawn soil, and in the case of little black ants, within rotten and/or decayed natural wood sources in yards.

Have you ever located red-imported fire ant nests on your lawn grass?

How Homeowners Can Help To Protect Their Homes From Argentine Ant Infestations

Iridomyrmex humilis, or the Argentine ant, as the species is more commonly known, is an invasive ant pest that has become well established throughout Louisiana. As their common name makes clear, these ants are native to South America, and they were first documented in Louisiana during the late 19th century after colonies were recovered in New Orleans. Argentine ants have been transported into Louisiana numerous times on shipments of nursery stock arriving at the Port of New Orleans from South America. This ant species continues to spread to new areas by means of human transport, as colonies contain millions of workers and hundreds of queens that easily infest cars, boats and recreational vehicles.

Once these ants arrive in a new area, queens immediately begin reproducing while workers set about constructing new nesting sites. These ants are notable for their massive colony size and their habit of traveling long distances in clustered masses that pest control professionals are often powerless to stop. Because of this, area-wide pest control efforts are often necessary for halting this species further spread into new urban and suburban areas. However, there are plenty of things that homeowners can do to protect their homes from Argentine ant infestations.

Argentine ants forage on the ground and within trees, and they establish new colonies beneath rocks, bundles of plant matter, fallen branches, concrete slabs, landscaping ornaments, and mulch. Nomadic clusters of Argentine ants contain countless queens that continuously establish colonies while the larger mass continues to migrate to new territories. Because of this unique dispersal behavior, Argentine ant colonies are interconnected over their entire habitat, which can span several hundred square miles. Argentine ants often establish harborages in decayed wood, particularly wood siding that has become saturated with moisture. In order to prevent wood siding from becoming hospitable to Argentine ants, shrubbery should be regularly trimmed to prevent moisture from building up within siding and other sources of wood on the external walls of homes.

Has your neighborhood ever been invaded by Argentine ants?

Ant Prevention Hints and Tips!

Ant Prevention Hints and Tips!

  1. Block off access points. Take time to inspect the outside of your home for cracks and crevices, paying special attention to areas where utility pipes enter. Seal any small holes or gaps with a silicone-based caulk. Keep tree branches and other shrubbery well trimmed and away from the structure.
  2. Eliminate sources of water in and around the home. Indoors, routinely check under sinks for areas of moisture and repair any leaky pipes. Consider using a dehumidifier in damp basements, crawl spaces or attics. Outside, ensure that downspouts and gutters are functioning properly so that water flows away from the home’s foundation.
  3. Keep a clean kitchen. Wipe down counter tops and sweep floors to remove crumbs and residue from spills. Store food in sealed containers, and keep ripe fruit in the refrigerator. Also, make sure to dispose of garbage regularly.
  4. Don’t forget about the pets. After mealtime, keep pet bowls clean and wipe up any spilled food or water around them promptly. Store dry pet food in a sealed plastic container rather than the paper bags they often come in, which can be easily accessed by ants, rodents and other pests.
  5. Work with a pest professional. Eliminating ants can be challenge without the proper treatment. Some species of ants, like carpenter ants, can cause serious property damage while others can pose health threats. If you see ants in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to identify the species and recommend a course of treatment.

Two Invasive Ant Species In Louisiana That Nest Within Homes And Damage Electrical Devices

The southeastern Gulf Coast states see the greatest number of invasive ant species of all US states due to the region’s close geographic proximity to the Caribean Islands and South America where many invasive ant pests in the US originate. States like Florida, Texas and Louisiana are particularly rich in invasive ant species due to the many high-traffic coastal ports that often receive shipments of ant-infested goods from numerous regions around the world, including Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Europe, Greater Antilles, the Indo-Pacific region, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Southeast Asia. Experts have documented habitats belonging to 75 different invasive ant species in the Gulf Coast states alone. The most well known of these invasive ant species is the red-imported fire ant, which is notorious for its painful and medically significant sting. Red-imported fire ants are also known for having an attraction to electrical devices, but two other invasive ant species in Louisiana, dark rover ants and tawny crazy ants, are far more damaging to electrical devices and wiring than red-imported fire ants.

The dark rover ant is an invasive species that inhabited southern Louisiana during the 1970s, but today this species has become widespread throughout the entire state. These ants do not sting and they rarely bite, but they are known for establishing large nests within wall voids, particularly behind electrical outlets and near light fixtures. Dark rover ants have been cited by many pest control professionals in Louisiana as being one of the most difficult ant pest species to control within and around homes. Workers of this species can be hard to recognize due to their excessively small 2 millimeter long bodies, which allow them to access houses through extremely narrow entry points, but their dark brown to black exterior can make workers stand out within clean homes where clutter is lacking. Much like dark rover ants, tawny crazy ants are invasive ants from South America that invade wall outlets and electrical devices. Unlike dark rover ants, the nesting behavior of tawny crazy ants often causes short circuits and they may damage electrical wiring in expensive devices like video game consoles and refrigerators. These minute and reddish-brown ants have only been found in isolated pockets of Louisiana, but this species is spreading to new areas more rapidly than nearly all other invasive ant species in the southeast US.

Have you ever experienced electrical problems due to an ant infestation?



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