Ants can provide help as a natural predator for pests like fleas, flies, and termites, but can become a pest themselves when they enter homes in search of food.
Some species are well known for taking over yards and gardens, building large mounds, and protecting others pests like the aphid and mealybug. However, ants are also notorious for damaging plants by creating tunnels around the roots, which dries them out.
Ants range in size from around 1/32 to ¾ of an inch in length and have 3 distinctive body parts, the head, abdomen, and thorax. Their colors vary from red, brown, and black. Some species of the ant even have wings that are used during the reproduction of the colony. While ants do have a pincher-like mouth, very few use it to bite except a few aggressive species like the fire ant.
Ants can almost always be found in numbers when hunting for food and live in colonies.
Female queen ants are larger than other male and female ants in the colony and have the sole responsibility of laying eggs. Some ant species may only have one queen in their colony while others may have several queens.
Male ants only have one purpose in their colony, which is to mate with the queen, while workers are females who are unable to reproduce.
Female workers are the biggest part of the colony and have the responsibility of building the nest and defending it when there is danger. Workers are also responsible for carrying for the queen's young and providing food for the colony.
More colonies are built once the queen is ready to lay her eggs, which she does throughout the spring, summer, and fall seasons. The eggs hatch into larvae in about one month and larvae of the ants are born. The larvae are cared for by the queen for a few months until they are ready to pupate. In about 3 weeks, the larvae emerge as adult workers who start the life cycle for future generations by collecting food and building more colonies for future generations.
Just like all insects, ants require food, water, and shelter to survive. When their basic needs are eliminated, their numbers are drastically reduced.
Store food and any garbage in sealed containers keep kitchen counters clean and empty trash daily.
Seal cracks and crevices around foundations with caulk to keep ants out of your home.
Invest in and set ant bait traps in and around your home to reduce infestations.
Search for and destroy mounds outside of the home to prevent ants from coming indoors.