Bug of the Month April: Ants

Ant populations begin to explode when the weather warms up, and this year due to drought conditions they are invading properties sooner than ever in their search for food and water.

For April’s Bug of the Month, we will review the three most common ants you may see in California and Nevada, how to identify them, and how to get rid of them!

Common Ants to Look Out For

Pavement Ant

As their name suggests, pavement ants like to make their homes in or under cracks in the pavement. The workers are 1/16-1/9″ long, with light brown bodies, and paler legs and antennae. One of the most common identifiers of the pavement ant is a pair of small spines on the thorax.

Unfortunately for many home and business owners, these ants do not always remain under the pavement. They have been known to inhabit walls, under floors, in insulation, and most commonly at ground level foundation walls.

The first step to ant control is locating the colony, which can be very difficult. A licensed pest control technician will then treat the colony directly. To ensure more ants do not invade, a perimeter treatment of the structure is recommended, in addition to any foraging ant trails. With a comprehensive treatment, results can be seen immediately with colony elimination in as little as one week.

Carpenter Ant

The Carpenter Ant is an especially destructive ant, due to their habit of hollowing out wood for their nests. The workers are rather large, 1/8″-1/2″, and vary in color from all black, to variations of black, red, and brown. The thorax has no spines, and they have no stinger, however workers can release a potent odor.

Carpenter ants are prone to creating their first nest in soft, often decaying wood. Because of this they are often found in structural wood with moisture problems, fence posts, or even trees with dead portions.

To control this type of ant, a treatment of the perimeter by a licensed technician is recommended. Any trees or shrubbery touching the roof or siding of the structure should also be trimmed back. After identifying where the ants are coming from, any gaps in the structure (often where water or electrical lines enter the building) should be sealed as well. Due to the tenacious nature of this ant, more extensive treatment may be required depending on the situation.

Argentine Ant

The argentine ant is the most common in the United States, and can be one of the hardest to eradicate. In addition to having a healthy diet of anything from fresh fruit to bees, argentine ants also have been known to transfer diseases through their practice of crawling over everything, including sewage and other hazardous waste. The workers are about 1/8″ in length, with a black body and light brown legs and mouth parts. They have a well developed stinger which helps identify them.

Argentine ants flock to moist environments, especially when it is dry and warm outside. They are often found in potted plants, sinks, and water pipes. They will invade a structure if conditions are too dry or too wet, or when they are not finding proper food sources outside.

To control this ant, the nest will need to be located and treated. Special care should be taken to effectively treat the exterior of the structure, especially foundation walls. Vegetation will need to be trimmed back, and water/electrical line entrances sealed tightly. Potted plants and other habitable areas in and around the structure should also be checked and treated or disposed of if necessary.

If your home or business is being invaded by ants, please call to arrange for a free inspection to best determine how to rid your property of these tiny invaders.