General Facts about Ants
There are over 100 species of ants in Canada, many are structure-damaging species and can live in your home all year round. Controlling and eliminating the structure damaging species is necessary. Many ants can be difficult to remove once they establish a colony. To combat ants, the most important thing to do is to identify the species before you try to eliminate them. AR Pest Control professionals have knowledge on the appearance, behaviour, nesting habits and we can help identify the ant species in order to use proper control methods.
Ant Species in Canada
Common structure-infesting ant species found in Canada include the Black Carpenter Ant, Pavement Ant, Pharaoh Ant, Odorous House Ant, Argentine Ant, and Thief Ant. Most damage caused to homes are from Carpenter Ants, Pavement Ants, and Pharaoh Ants. Of all ant species, the Black Carpenter Ant is the largest in size and the most destructive. Pavement Ants are more of a nuisance, especially if nesting indoors. The pharaoh ant is another indoor nuisance pest, often attracted to foods high in protein and sugar.
Ant Appearance / Identification
Ants are generally easy to recognize; their colour is usually black, dark brown, red, or tan in colour. Depending on the species, their size can range from 1.5 mm to 13 mm in length. Like all insects, the body of an ant is divided in three distinct parts: head, thorax and abdomen. The thorax is joined to the abdomen by constricted petioles, also known as nodes. Depending on the species, some ants have a single node and others have two nodes. All ants have three pairs of legs used for walking, and they do not have wings, except for the reproductive swarmers, which have two pairs of functional wings used for mating and dispersal flights.
Ants are social insects that live in colonies with populations often reaching hundreds of thousands. Most ant colonies build nests in soil. Some species, like Carpenter Ants, tunnel into wood to create nesting chambers. A typical ant colony consists of three distinct social castes: the queen, drones, and workers. Most colonies have one queen and a vast number of workers, but the colonies of some species can have multiple queens. The queen’s function is to lay eggs and control activities of the nest via pheromone communication. The most likely to be seen outside the nest during non-swarming season are the workers. The workers forage for food to carry back to the colony. Foraging often brings ants into the home, because they are attracted to nearly any food humans may leave out. Sugary foods, meats, and grease are particularly attractive to ants.
Most ant species are omnivorous, feeding on a wide range of food sources. Ant dietary requirements change throughout the year, depending on the season and needs of the colony. During mating season, from spring and into the summer, the colony requires protein to for the development of the maturing larvae. Ants consequently forage for high protein food. Towards the end of summer, the colony begins preparing the nest for winter or they relocate to a suitable overwintering site. Due to the energy needed to perform such tasks, can switch from protein to sugary substances, like nectar and honeydew, represent popular sources of carbohydrates for the most common species in Canada. The varied diet of ants regularly includes fungi, plants and organic matter, seeds, and a wide range of food items stored and consumed by humans, as well.
Do Ants Bite?
Most ant species in Canada rarely bite humans. Ants have mouth parts that have adapted for biting and chewing solid food. Some species jaws are strong enough to bite through human skin, but most cannot. Ant species such as Black Carpenter Ants can bite if provoked. Some ant species including European Fire ants sting/inject formic acid into the wound, which causes a burning sensation at the site of the bite.
Ants with Wings
Ant colonies feature a hierarchical social structure in which thousands of sterile female workers maintain the nest, forage for food, care for larvae, and protect one or more queens, New reproductive queens and males are characterized by their wings, which worker ants lack. In a ritual known as a nuptial flight the winged ants, the ants depart from existing colonies when prompted by the weather, fly to a new location, and mate. They mate in swarms either aerially or terrestrially. The newly mated queens then fly off to locate a new nesting site, detach their wings, and lay eggs. Winged males, exist solely to mate and they die after completing the mating with the queen. The swarming presence of winged ants indoors, especially during winter, strongly indicates a nearby colony.
Problems Caused by Ants
Ants found in the home are unsightly and a nuisance. A few species such as pharaoh ants have been associated with disease transmission, especially in hospital and long-term care facilities. Outdoor nesting habits can damage lawns and gardens, as well. Ants found in the home can cause damage to the structure by chewing wood, insulation, and electrical cables while building nests in your home. Select species of ants are capable of inflicting painful stings that can lead to inflamed skin at sting sites and some individuals may experience cramps and headaches in reactions to ant venom.
Ant – Infestations in the Home
Because pest species of ants frequently establish colonies in populated areas, the insects often invade the homes of Canadian residents. Ants are attracted to food, foraging ants enter houses to scavenge for crumbs, oil or grease spills, sugar, and edible items regularly found in kitchen pantries. Ants can contaminate food items. Ants gain entry to buildings through cracks in the walls or foundation, as well as through gaps or other small openings that often appear where moulding or plumbing connect with the structure. Large numbers of ants can successfully invade homes by detecting and following an invisible trail produced by scouts sent previously by the colony to search for food.
Keeping the home clean and structurally intact is generally the best way to prevent an ant infestation. Keep leftover foods stored in tightly-sealed containers, wipe up crumbs and spills promptly, and sweep the floor regularly. Rinse food containers before you dispose of them because it eliminates edible residue that will attract ants. Repair all cracks in the walls and foundation and make sure doors, windows, and other points of entry remain properly sealed, as well. If you follow these preventative measures and you are still seeing signs of an ant infestation, contact a pest control specialist.
Your AR Pest Control office has products developed for the control of pests such as Ants. Due to the potential danger of potential property damage, it is advisable to contact an AR Service Representative.
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