There are about 700 species of ants found in the United States and at least 25 species are home and property invaders. There are two ant species that are structural pests, Acrobat Ants and Carpenter Ants. These species can cause harm to the structural elements of buildings such as wood.
Some common home invader species include Acrobat Ants, Carpenter Ants, Little Black Ants, Pharaoh Ants and Sugar Ants.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Ants are social insects that live in colonies, usually located in the ground. There are about 700 species found in the United States and at least 25 species are home and property invaders. Although ants eat most anything, when they invade your home, they are seeking protein and/or sugary foods. There are two ant species that are structural pests, Acrobat Ants and Carpenter Ants. These species can cause harm to the structural elements of buildings such as wood.
Each ant goes through metamorphosis, which is a change in form from one stage to another. An ant’s metamorphosis consists of 4 stages: (1) egg (2) larva (3) pupa (4) adult. Ants are social insects that live in colonies, usually located in the ground. Colonies are made up of workers, queens, and males. Workers are female, in some species they are sterile, but in others they lay eggs that turn into males or trophic eggs. (Trophic eggs are unfertilized eggs that the colony uses for food.)
Workers come in various sizes and do all of the work for the colony, including building and enlarging the nest, caring for the developing ants, and gathering food. Queens are typically the largest ants in the colony and in some species queens live up to 30 years. A colony may contain many queens. The queen’s entire purpose is to mate and lay fertilized eggs. Males are usually smaller than the queen but larger than workers. Their primary purpose is to inseminate the queens, then they die shortly after mating. Depending on the species, swarmers (winged reproductive ants) leave the nest, mate, and begin a new colony.
Signs of an Infestation
Depending on the species, you may see the ants’ nest (an ant hill), a trail of workers, or swarmers. With Acrobat and Carpenter Ants, you may see their discarded debris when they excavating their nests. It looks like a small pile of really fine sawdust and consists of wood debris, insulation, dirt, and dead ants.
Effective treatment begins with the correct identification of the species by a pest control specialist. This will determine the appropriate treatment. Your pest professional will likely use a combination of ant control techniques including spray and bait applications.
We recommend locating the ants’ nest. This will help you determine if they are coming from outside or if the ants have nested under or in a structure. Then, seal entry points and reduce or remove food sources (such as storing items in airtight containers).
Many homeowners try the do-it-yourself approach. While this can reduce the number of ants you see, it does not effectively kill the colony to prevent re-infestation.