Archive for the ‘Ants’ Category

Red-Imported Fire Ant Stings Have Been Sustained By More Than Half Of All Residents In Some New Orleans Neighborhoods

The red imported fire ant was transported into the United States from its native South America during the 1930s, and today the hazardous and economically damaging invasive pests have spread to at least 13 states where they dominate all native ant species within a nearly 300 million acre area. These ants inflict stings to at least 5 million people in the southeast each year, and this figure only includes reported sting encounters. Of these 5 million sting victims, around 25,000 require medical intervention for their injuries. Red imported fire ants inject a necrotizing venom into the human bloodstream with their stings. Most sting victims can at least expect itchy and painful pustules to form on their skin, but many individuals are allergic to red imported fire ant venom, making stings life threatening to these individuals. It is not uncommon for red imported fire ants to attack, and sometimes kill, newborn deer and cattle.

While Formosan subterranean termites cause the greatest degree of destruction and are the most costly invasive insects in Louisiana, red imported fire ant activity costs billions of dollars per year. This is due to the tremendous damage the ants inflict to crops, livestock, wildlife, and electrical equipment, and the cost of public health programs concerning this ant species have been increasing steadily over the years.

After a medical doctor moved to New Olreans during the 1980s, he was shocked to learn that nearly half of the people in his neighborhood had sustained red imported fire ant stings. In response to these stings, many of the residents had developed wounds that left scars. Not long after the doctor, Richard deShazo, relocated to New Orleans, his two daughters sustained hundreds of red imported fire ant stings while playing in their backyard. These stings quickly resulted in the formation of painful lesions before eventually developing into pustules that took weeks to heal. Although this event occurred more than 30 years ago, red imported fire ants remain abundant along the Gulf Coast, as colonies cannot be permanently eradicated once established.

Have you ever found a red-imported fire ant nesting mound?

Ants Can Treat Their Injured Comrade’s Wounds

Ants Can Treat Their Injured Comrade’s Wounds

After sustaining a serious wound, seeking medical attention is a necessity. As humans we can expect our wounds to be closed by stitching, and antibiotic treatments can prevent infections and accelerate the healing process. You would certainly not expect a doctor to frantically lick your wound repeatedly upon visiting a hospital. Not only would such a response be insane, but this absurd behavior would only transmit more germs to a wound. However, wounded ants seem to benefit from the saliva of their fellow colony members. Matabele ants are known for being one of the most aggressive and warlike of all ant species. These ants will raid other ant colonies as well as termite colonies. Matabele ants rarely lose the battles that they wage on their enemies. For decades researchers have known that Matabele ants are superior fighters, but the reasons for their edge on the battlefield has never been explained. Now researchers believe that injured Matabele ants often recover when they would otherwise die thanks to their comrades who lick them back to health. Researchers believe that these ants possess antimicrobial substances within their saliva that prevent infections and contribute to accelerated wound-healing.

After Matabele ants raid nearby insect nests, many return home with severe wounds. Some ants are missing multiple limbs, while others sustain less serious, but still life-threatening wounds. Luckily, Matabele ants have something similar to medics. Matabele ants that are injured in war recover ninety percent of the time, but only if their wounds are licked by other ants. However, injured ants that are not treated with their comrades saliva only recover one out of five times. Scientists are not yet certain as to why this licking process heals wounds, but it has been theorized that ant saliva contains antimicrobial properties. Different wounds require different amounts of licking. Sometimes a wounded ant will need to be licked for a few minutes, but others require a full hour of non-stop licking in order to recover from their wounds. The saliva probably prevents ant wounds from becoming infected by different forms of bacteria. While on the battlefield, some ants sustain wounds that are too significant to be helped by licking. In these cases, the wounded ants will thrash their bodies about in an effort to fend off help from other ants that are prepared to lick them. These ants seem to know that their wounds are terminal, and therefore medical attention should not be wasted on them. Ants that are missing most of their limbs can be found indulging in this selfless behavior.

Have you ever heard about insects demonstrating another type of seemingly altruistic behavior?

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!

How Did Non-Native Argentine Ants Arrive In Louisiana?

Ants are one of the pests that it seems everyone has to deal with no matter where you live. But, there are certain ant species that can prove to be more troublesome to homeowners than others. One of these ant species is the Argentine ant, also sometimes referred to as a sugar ant. These ants aren’t native to the United States, though, and likely were introduced to Louisiana around the 1870’s after hitching a ride on ships transporting coffee to the states from Brazil. They quickly spread, and have been a serious pain in our backsides ever since.

Argentine ants are one of the ant species that are more of a nuisance to people than most. This is primarily because they are known for invading people’s homes, invading our houses in search of sugary food. People tend to find them marching in wide, neat trails inside their homes, usually towards an obvious food or water source. These are the little buggers you will notice congregating in your kitchen if it is less than spotless. They will often invade homes during the winter as well to escape the cold weather. Thankfully, they’re more annoying than anything else, as they don’t bite or sting humans. What really makes them so troublesome are their large colonies, which can contain numerous queens. They are only 2-3 mm long and brown or black in color. Unlike ant species like the fire ant, Argentine ant workers are all the same size. The easiest way to tell if you have a nest inside your home is by looking for ants carrying cream colored or white brood (their eggs), as the eggs are immobile and so must be carried by worker ants if they need to be moved.

They are also incredibly difficult to get rid of, and the country has been trying to control them to no avail since the early 1900’s. One feature that makes them so difficult to control is that they are all the same size, with most of the worker ants hanging out inside your home, and only a small fraction of foraging ants being sent outside. This means if you treat the outside of the house, only a small number of the colony will be killed, and are easily replaced by simply sending more worker ants to serve as foragers. Since their colonies are so large and contain many queens, these ants can simply scatter and create new colonies with whatever ants survive when you do a broadcast spray around the house, which is the most common method of control. They are not territorial, so they don’t fight, and on top of all this, they are very mobile and are adept at simply relocating to other areas of your house. They can be an absolute nightmare to deal with if they infest your home.

Have you ever found trails of Argentine ants walking around in your home?

How To Know If Red Imported Fire Ants Are Infesting Your Louisiana Lawn


There exists two imported fire ant species that currently inhabit the United States. The most abundant of the two, red imported fire ants, can be found in 13 states, most notably the southernmost US states, including Louisiana. The other species, the black imported fire ant, may have been introduced into the US from South America at ports in Louisiana, Texas or both. Due to largely successful pest control strategies, the invasive black imported fire ant habitat is now limited to the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and southern Tennessee. However, some experts believe that the black imported fire ant habitat in the US is more expansive, and may reach into the states of Louisiana, Texas and even Virginia. The red imported fire ant is considered one of the most successful invasive insect pest species in the world due to this species’ ability to displace native ants from their natural habitats, and for the speed in which they establish colonies. Red imported fire ants are also able to adapt to a variety of environmental conditions and landscapes, such as residential yards where the ant’s unsightly nesting mounds can drive down real estate values. Although red imported fire ants can also inflict medically significant stings to humans, which are extremely painful, and in some cases, deadly, the ants are largely considered to be nuisance pests in residential and urban areas, as opposed to being a public health threat.shreveport_photo

Red imported fire ant colonies are massive relative to most native ant colonies in the US, as these ant colonies can grow to contain hundreds of thousands of individual ants. It is not uncommon for residential yards in Louisiana to become infested with red imported fire ants. These infestations are easily noticeable due to an abundance of nesting mounds in front and back yards. Once these ants become established on a property, they quickly infest neighboring houses, eventually taking over every home in a clustered residential area. Red imported fire ants can grow to be one third of an inch in length, and they emerge from their nests during the spring in order to mate, making it highly probable for a homeowner to sustain stings while walking about in his/her yard. If you believe that red imported fire ants have taken over your lawn, then Louisiana pest control authorities should know about it due to the ongoing quarantine program in the state.

Have you ever been stung by a red imported fire ant?


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