Ant Control in Your Home & Garden

Ant Control in Your Home & Garden

What are Ants and How to Get Rid of them

Description

Ants are small, long and thin insects ranging in size from 1 – 50 mm in length. Ants vary in colours of black, brown, yellow, and are sometimes metallic.

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At the front of the head are a pair of powerful pincer jaws and a pair of bent antennae. Jaws are used for sawing, transporting materials and are also used in defence and attack. Ants have two, generally large, compound eyes on either side of the head and three smaller simple eyes in the middle of the forehead.

Along the knobbly mid-section (thorax) are three pairs of legs. Some reproductive individuals of a colony have two pairs of transparent wings. Winged ants are often confused with winged termites, however, termites have straight antennae and a thick waist.

Ants have a constricted waist and a bulbous abdomen (hind body section). Some ants have a stinger at the tip of their abdomen which may be used to spray or inject poisonous secretions.

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Behaviour

Ants are aggressive and ferociously defend their territory by biting and stinging. Ants are strong communicators and talk to each other via chemical signals. Some species are active at night while others are active during the day.

Ants are social animals that develop into colonies made up of anatomically and functionally different individuals known as castes. Castes are categorised into “Queens” which are reproductive females; “Kings” which are reproductive males; and “Workers” and “Soliders”, both of which are non-reproductive/sterile females. There may be one or more Queens and many Kings in a colony, both whose prime function is to start a new colony and breed. Workers and Soldiers are the most easily seen castes. Workers are responsible for the collection of food, for building and maintaining the nest and caring for the eggs and pupae. Soldiers primarily protect the nest.

Lifecycle

Eggs are small and ovoid. Larvae are whitish grubs, narrower towards the head. Pupae are similar to the adult, but soft, creamy-white and inactive. Adults develop into different caste types including Queens, males, soldiers and workers (see behaviour section for further details).

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Development from egg to adult may take 6 or more weeks.

In many species, at certain times of year, large numbers of winged males and reproductive females are produced, swarm and mate. New colonies are formed by the fertilised females.

Habitat

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Depending on the ant species, ants may feed on other insects, insect residues such as honeydew, fungi, flower nectar, sweet sap from trees, seeds and human and pet foodstuffs.

Nests can be found under rocks, tree logs and other debris. Nests can also be also built aboveground and appear as mounds of soil and/or small stones, while others are hidden below ground. Nests can be built into an elaborate tunnel system made up of chambers for different housing purposes. Some ants produce silk and bind together leaves in trees to create “castles”. Ants also make their nests in the home. Nests can be found in indoor potted plants, wall cavities, roofing insulation, window frames and behind kitchen cabinets.

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Natural enemies:

Insects, other ants, spiders, snakes, lizards, birds and some mammals. Short-Beaked Echidnas are Australia’s very own ant and termite eaters.

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