Ants are usually thought of as the tiny, hard-working insects bustling about in their tunnels underground. Indeed, ants are eusocial insects renowned for their highly organized colonies, and they are a fascinating species. Their global footprint, diverse in size and shape, makes them a fascinating topic of study.
In fact, some scientists believe that there is an ant supercolony that spans as far as 6,000km in the Mediterranean region!
Ants range from minute critters to surprisingly large varieties. Their signature features include a robust exoskeleton, segmented bodies, antennae for navigation, and six nimble legs that keep them moving.
With a focus on maintaining their colonies, ants exemplify the beauty of collective survival. Their colonies range from dozens to millions of individuals and are neatly divided into castes, each with a dedicated role. The queen, the colony's sole reproducer, is served by sterile female workers who carry out essential tasks, from foraging for food to defending the colony. Males generally have a fleeting presence, appearing only for mating before their life cycle ends.
Ants are versatile eaters, choosing from insects, plants, and, surprisingly, fellow ants for meals. They also play the scavenger role, consuming everything from waste to deceased animals. In doing so, ants become ecological regulators, keeping other insect populations in check.
Ants exchange food with one another by a process called trophallaxis, whereby they feed each other through regurgitation of food from one ant’s mouth into another. As disgusting as this may sound to you and I, it’s actually a very effective way to share food amongst the colony.
Ants are very adaptable, making habitats in forests, grasslands, and deserts, and yes, even our homes. Warm, moist environments are their preferred spaces; where they fashion nests out of soil, wood, or other materials. Some species like carpenter ants are known to carve out intricate nests in wooden structures which can pose a serious risk to homeowners.
While ants may seem like bothersome invaders, particularly when they actively infiltrate our homes, they're not entirely undesirable. They can help control other insect populations and even assist in plant pollination. However, their presence in our homes is an unwelcome one. Ants can lead to food contamination, property damage, and in some cases, painful bites which can have serious consequences should someone develop an allergic reaction.
What's the best way to get rid of ants?
There are multiple ways to tackle an ant invasion. Ant baits, slow-acting poisons that workers carry back to their colonies, can eliminate entire colonies over time (this is where trophallaxis does not come in handy for the ants).
How often should I have an ant inspection?
The frequency of ant inspections depends on the risk of ant infestation in your area. If you live in an area that is prone to ant infestations, you may want to have an ant inspection every 6 months to 1 year. However, if you live in an area that is not prone to ant infestations, you may only need to have an ant inspection every 2-3 years.
How much does ant extermination cost?
The cost of ant extermination varies depending on the size of the infestation, the type of treatment used, and the location of the infestation. In general, ant extermination costs between $50 and $500.
Are ant treatments safe for plants, pets and kids?
The safety of ant treatments for plants, pets, and kids depends on the type of treatment used. Some treatments, such as baits and traps, are relatively safe for these groups. However, other treatments, such as sprays and dusts, can be more harmful and we recommend you rely on a professional for their application. It is important to read the label of any ant treatment carefully before using it to ensure that it is safe for your plants, pets, and kids.
If ants have overrun your home and you're finding it challenging to manage, consider reaching out to a professional pest control company. Their experience and expertise can provide a quick and effective solution to your ant problem.