Ants are the most common pest encountered in homes across the United States. As social insects ants live in colonies where the individuals work for the good and welfare of the entire colony. The ant colony includes the queen, workers, eggs, larvae, pupae and some males also known as drones. There may be winged swarmer ants present within the colony as well.
Ants are of the order hymenoptera which includes ants, bees, hornets and wasps. Ants develop via complete metamorphosis from egg, larvae, pupa to adult. Ants are readily recognized insects by their distinct shape. They have three body regions including a head, thorax and abdomen. Ants also have elbowed antennae and three pair of legs.
Ants are seemingly omnipresent in the environment. Some species are known to nest indoors, others not. Species may have different food preferences and food preference may change during the year depending upon various factors.
There are an estimated over twenty thousand ant species worldwide yet relatively few are commonly problematic as structural pests. Commonly encountered pest ant species include but may not be limited to Acrobat ants, Argentine ants, Carpenter ants which are capable of causing structural damage, Crazy ants, Ghost ants, Odorous house ants, Pavement ants, Pharaoh ants, Red imported fire ants and others.
The presence of ants may be merely a nuisance but ants may create significant problems. Carpenter ants may enter homes and damage structural lumber in which they excavate galleries and hollows to form a nest site. Fire ants possess a painful sting which may be dangerous to those who are allergic to hymenoptera venom.
For successful ant control it is best to correctly identify the species present, consider the biology and behavior of the pest ant and find the nest(s) which are the source of the problem such that they may be eliminated.