Ants have become the number one pest call we get, and they show no signs of letting up. In the early spring, even before it gets warm outside, the Odorous House Ants like to come up under buildings and search for food. Later in the spring, they will trail in from outside nests.
The Odorous House Ant:
- is very tiny; less than 1/16 inch long
- is brown to black in color
- has 12 antennae segments
- has only one node (waist), and an uneven thorax when viewed from the side
- produces a foul smell like “rotten coconut” when crushed.
Indoors, Odorous House Ant nests may be found within wall voids,
in crevices around sinks and cupboards, and near hot water pipes and heaters. Outside, Odorous House Ant nests are usually established in shallow, exposed soil beneath brick, board, or stone. Odorous House Ants are most likely to enter the home in the autumn time or during rainy weather, when the outdoor sweet food supply is reduced.
Odorous House Ants forage both day and night. They prefer sweet items, including syrup, candy, honey, and sugar, but will also feed on insects, seeds, and plant secretions.
Female Odorous House Ants lay at least one egg per day. Once hatched, it takes about 24 days for the young Odorous House ant to reach adulthood. Colony size ranges from 100 to 10,000 ants.
Pavement ants are also a major nuisance ant pest.
- Pavement ants are small; about 1/8th inch in length
- are dark brown to black in color
- have a body with two nodes (like a waist)
- have a 12-segemented antenna with a 3-segment club
The Pavement Ant gets its name from its tendency to nest under pavement sidewalks and driveways, and piling the dirt removed in a mound on top of the pavement. Pavement ants will also nest under other items on the ground, such as logs, stones, bricks, and boards.
Pavement ants will eat a variety of foods, though they prefer grease and sweet substances. Pavement ants will forage up to 30 feet from the colony and are quick to set up trails to and from food sources.
New ant colonies are started by a single queen that lays the eggs and tends the brood that develops into worker ants. Tending of the brood is then taken over by the workers, which shift the brood from place to place as moisture and temperature fluctuate in the nest. When workers forage for food for the queen and her young, they often enter houses and become a nuisance.
Carpenter Ants can damage your house!
- Carpenter Ants are often called the “Big Black Ant” although some subspecies may be reddish-brown in color.
- Size may range from ¼ inch to ¾ inch.
- The ants you see may be either wingless workers or winged reproductive ants from the colony.
As carpenter ants bore their nests, they leave behind several piles of fibrous, finely shredded sawdust-like material called “frass”. Faint clicking or rustling sounds within walls may also be an indication of the presence of Carpenter Ants. Carpenter Ants form tight, close trails that can be traced to the nesting areas. Trails are most often found along carpet edges, door frames, fence tops, etc.
Keep in mind that an occasional ant does not indicate the presence of a nest in your home; scouts from outside nests will travel up to the length of a football field to find food. Continuous or numerous ants are a better sign of nesting. If you see carpenter ants inside your house in the winter, you definitely have a nest inside the house.
Carpenter ants are usually found in moist, damp areas, but not always. Homes built in densely wooded areas, or in low, shady places are particularly susceptible to carpenter ant invasion. Favorite indoor nesting spots include moist places like roof leaks, near kitchens and bathrooms, or virtually any hollow place, even a hollow door or a curtain rod.
Carpenter ants will forage for food at anytime, but are at highest activity during nighttime hours. Inside homes, carpenter ants are most often attracted to sweet foods such as fruits, juices, syrups, jellies, and savory foods such as meat, grease and fat.
Winged male and female Carpenter Ants mate between March and July. After mating, the males die, leaving the fertilized female to lay her eggs (about 15 to 20 at a time) in small wood cavities. About 24 days later, the eggs will hatch, followed by a 21-day larval stage and 21 day pupal stage. In total, the life cycle of the Carpenter Ant is about 66 days from egg to adult. Colder weather may lengthen the process up to 10 months.
The most common damage left behind by carpenter ants is wood damage, but they will also infest foam insulation boards. Carpenter ant wood damage (as opposed to termite damage) is characterized by smooth, clean galleries and small windows or slit-like openings. These slits act as “garbage chutes” used to dispose of frass, dead ants and other materials. Wood damage is often not visible unless wall or ceiling cavities are actually opened.