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Archive for the ‘Ants’ Category

Everything Residents Need To Know About The Longhorn Crazy Ant Species That Frequently Establishes Indoor Infestations That Are Incredibly Difficult To Eliminate

Paratrechina longicornis is an ant species that is better known as the “longhorn crazy ant,” or the “black crazy ant.” This ant species’ native home cannot be determined with certainty, but compelling evidence that has recently been brought to light suggests that the longhorn crazy ant species originated from Southeast Asia, and not Africa, as was the belief among entomologists for decades. Many entomologists and pest control professionals refer to this species as being invasive in the United States, and while it is certainly a non-native species in the country, the presence of longhorn crazy ants does not seem to have a detrimental effect on the various ecosystems where they have established a thriving non-native population. That being said, the longhorn crazy ant is a “tramp ant” that has established a non-native population throughout much of the world, and they are significant agricultural crop pests.

Longhorn crazy ants are now considered to be major nuisance pests in every area of the US where their colonies can be found. The Gulf Coast states see the greatest abundance of longhorn crazy ants by far, but these ant pests maintain a significant pest presence along the mid atlantic and up into the northeastern states, and they can be found in homes located in every region of the contiguous US, including Hawaii. These ants have also been found in Sweden and well into Canada. Surprisingly, the longhorn crazy ant is considered by most research entomologists to be the most widely distributed of all ant species worldwide, with the possible exception of the Pharaoh ant. This species’ ability to rapidly spread and adapt to a variety of unnatural urban environments is one of several reasons as to why eliminating longhorn crazy ant infestations within homes is very challenging. The longhorn crazy ant is dark in color and exceedingly small at 1.5 to 3 mm in length, but their unusually erratic and fast movements make them easy to identify without the aid of a microscope. The longhorn crazy should not be confused with the Tawny or raspberry crazy ant species that has also established an invasive habitat in the southeastern US.

Have you ever found tiny ant pests that had crawled into your keyboard?

 

 

 

 

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?

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?

 

 

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