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Archive for the ‘Ants’ Category

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?

The Three Most Economically Significant Invasive Ant Species In Louisiana

Some insect pests pose nothing more than a nuisance within homes, while others can damage property or pose a health threat to humans. Most insect pests are a nuisance to residents when they infest homes, but a small number of insect pests, like termites, cause slow and gradual forms of property damage while going unnoticed by homeowners. While termites, carpenter ants and carpenter bees cause damage to structural and ornamental wood sources, other insect pests damage clothing, carpenting, curtains and other textiles. The most common household pests that damage textile goods are commonly known as carpet beetles and clothes moths, but cockroaches and termites have also been known to eat holes through clothing.

Numerous insect pests, mainly ants, are most destructive outdoors where they may inflict damage to lawn-grass, garden plants and concrete slabs. Red-imported fire ants are well known for building numerous unsightly nesting mounds that damage turf, and leaf-cutter ants damage both garden plants and turf. Some ant pests, like Pharaoh ants can worsen cracks in concrete slabs and foundations while excavating soil and nesting. According to researchers, ants are the most economically costly insect pests in the United States, and annual ant control and damage repair costs in Louisiana are particularly high due to the relatively high number of highly destructive non-native ant species that have established an invasive population in the state.

Well over 14,000 ant species have been documented worldwide, 150 of which have established non-native habitats around the world. A 2007 research study saw researchers collect 132 ant species in Louisiana, and 19 of them were invasive. The most economically significant of these invasive ant species in the state include red-imported fire ants, Argentine ants and Tawny crazy ants. All three of these ant species are frequent pests in and around homes in Louisiana, but red-imported fire ants prefer to remain in gardens, in lawn grass, and in the soil beneath concrete slabs rather than invading homes.

Have you ever found red-imported fire ant mounds in your yard?

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

How Large Can Ant Colonies Become? Do All Ant Pests Prefer To Eat Only Sugary Human Foods?

Ants are eusocial insects that dwell in colonies that contain anywhere from a few hundred to well over one million individual ants. The number of ants within a colony varies depending on the species and the relative maturity of a particular ant colony. Generally, ant colonies mature at a faster rate than termite colonies, and most ant colonies that are associated with infestations contain tens to hundreds of thousands of individual ants or more. Most ant species show varying degrees of hostility to other ants of their own species, and therefore, ant colonies are usually isolated and are not associated with other colonies. However, a significant minority of ant species are tolerant toward ants belonging to foregin colonies just as long as the foreign ants are of the same species. Some ant species of this kind often form a network of interconnected colonies that can span many square miles below the ground, and contain millions of individual ants. These cooperative colony networks are known as “supercolonies,” and they are often formed by invasive ant pest species, such as red-imported fire ants and Argentine ants, both of which can be found in Louisiana.

Many ant species are capable of establishing nests both below and above the ground soil. Ant pests can become a problem when they establish subterranean colonies in residential yards, especially in cases where colony nests are located near the foundation of homes. Ants that nest near homes may venture indoors in large numbers in order to feed on human food sources. Ant pests that feed on honeydew and plant nectar usually have a taste for sweet-tasting human foods as well. Bull-headed ants, carpenter ants, and sugar ants are all known for feeding on sugary foods, but red-imported fire ants and grease ants prefer to feed on meat products. Pavement ants and Pharaoh ants are notorious for chowing down on just about any type of human food source that they encounter within a home. All of the above named ants are common home invaders throughout Louisiana.

Have you ever found ant pests in your kitchen and/or getting into your food?

 

 

 

 

 

 

White-Footed Ant Pests Are Tremendously Difficult To Control, And They Are Abundant Throughout Louisiana

Most people have never heard of the insect house pests commonly known as “white-footed ants,” and pest control professionals often have to consult with academic experts and entomologists in order to better understand how these ants can be controlled and properly identified. However, this ant is not a new species in Louisiana, and it has been infesting homes in the state for decades, but this ant’s pest behavior is largely unknown to pest control professionals because the species had been incorrectly identified as an entirely different species. The white-footed ant species is officially namedTechnomyrmex difficilis, but all literary sources written before 2007 refer to the species as Technomyrmex albipes. While these two species are similar in appearance and habitat distribution, they are very different in terms of foraging and nesting behavior. It is unfortunate that this mix-up occurred since white-footed ants are extremely difficult to eradicate from infested homes, with or without accurate information about their pest behavior.

The white-footed ant is not widely distributed in the US, as the species has only been identified in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, California and Louisiana. White-footed ants can be recognized for their small size, black exterior and white-tipped legs, and these ant pests are small enough to squeeze through the narrowest of cracks and crevices in order to access a home’s interior. There are several reasons as to why these ants are considered one of the most difficult pest species to control within infested homes. One reason has to do with the near impossibility of accurately identifying a queen. Like most ants, white-footed ant colonies start when two winged reproductives mate and produce workers, but unlike most ant species, white-footed ant queens die within a year, and are then replaced with a wingless reproductive female that looks identical to half of all the specimens within a colony. Since white-footed ants establish nests within wall voids, beneath baseboards, and in many other areas within a home, infestations can only be eradicated provided that the queen, or “primary reproductive,” is eliminated. If the queen is misidentified, then the actual queen will continue to reproduce offspring within a home. White-footed ant colonies have been known to contain 3 million specimens, and they pose a serious nuisance, but luckily, the pests do not bite or damage property.

Have you ever seen what you believe was a white-footed ant?

 

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