Archive for the ‘Ant Control’ Category

Slave-making Ants Go After the Strong Rather Than the Weak

Friday, June 17th, 2016

Scientists used to assume that slavemaker ants would target weak colonies when sending their raiding parties to steal away pupae. However, they have recently discovered that they actually choose to go after fewer stronger colonies rather than targeting more weak ones. The ants associate strong defenses with stronger ant populations. By choosing to go after fewer strong ant colonies, the ants actually end up limiting their risk and coming away with more pupae to enslave.

Slavemaker ant colonies don’t actually have their own workforce. Instead they are made up of raider ants that go after other ants’ pupae and take to them back to their own colony to use as their workforce. In a study conducted by Sebastian Pohl and his team, researchers discovered that rather than target weak colonies to get their workforce, these ants actually choose to raid a fewer number of strong colonies. This is because losing one of these worker or raider ants can amount to losing the large number of slaves they would likely bring back to their colony. So, it makes more sense for them to target a fewer number of strong colonies, and limit the risk they take when performing a raid. The scout ants associate the strong colonies with a higher number of pupae and therefore a higher benefit when they go on a raid.

Do you think it is smarter for the slavemaker ants to go after strong colonies rather than weak ones?

Ants Attempt Daring Rescue of Trapped Relatives

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Scientists have discovered that ants will actually form rescue teams to go and save relatives that have become caught in traps. After hearing of reports about ants attempting these recue attempts, scientists put together their own study to test the theory.

Researchers took one ant from a colony and tied it up with a nylon thread and half buried it into a pile of sand. They stood by watching in amazement as other ants from the colony teamed up and worked together to free their trapped relative. The daring group slowly dug away at the sand and expose the threads of the nylon. They then bit at the threads until their comrade was free of the snare.

The researchers believe that the fellow ants know to go and rescue their relative because the struggling ant will release pheromones that call the other ants to them. When the other members of the colony smell these pheromones, they are alerted to their friend’s need and choose ants to form a team to go to the rescue.

Are you surprised by these ants’ selfless actions? Have you seen similar altruistic behavior in other insects?

Ants Attempt Daring Rescue of Trapped Relatives

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Scientists have discovered that ants will actually form rescue teams to go and save relatives that have become caught in traps. After hearing of reports about ants attempting these recue attempts, scientists put together their own study to test the theory.

Researchers took one ant from a colony and tied it up with a nylon thread and half buried it into a pile of sand. They stood by watching in amazement as other ants from the colony teamed up and worked together to free their trapped relative. The daring group slowly dug away at the sand and expose the threads of the nylon. They then bit at the threads until their comrade was free of the snare.

The researchers believe that the fellow ants know to go and rescue their relative because the struggling ant will release pheromones that call the other ants to them. When the other members of the colony smell these pheromones, they are alerted to their friend’s need and choose ants to form a team to go to the rescue.

Are you surprised by these ants’ selfless actions? Have you seen similar altruistic behavior in other insects?

Ant School Teachers

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Ant School Teachers

Human adults teach their young how to fend for themselves in this world through demonstration and hands on activities. Apparently, adult ants teach their young pupils in much the same way, taking them out on foraging quests and teaching them how to find food.

A new study revealed that ants teach their young how to forage for food using a “tandem running” technique that involved poking and prodding between the teacher and pupil. Female worker ants will take an inexperienced ant out with them on a foraging expedition, using tandem running to pass the knowledge onto the young ant. The experienced ant will lead the pupil through the forest to forage for food. The pupil learns by following and then stopping every so often to study landmarks along the way, while the teacher moves forward. Once the student ant is done exploring they will run to catch up to the teacher and tap her on the hind legs, letting her know he or she is ready for more.

The process is highly controlled, with the two ants constantly keeping tabs on how large the gap is between them. When the gap gets too large either the teacher will slow down to allow the student to catch up or the student will stop their exploration to run and catch up to the teacher. This instruction from a lead ant helps the students to learn how to find food much more quickly.

Can you think of similar teaching methods humans use with their young?

Georgia Ant Control Experts | Bug Busters USA

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Most species of ants are considered ‘nuisance pests,’ meaning that they don’t pose a significant threat to health or property, but are an annoyance when found indoors. In fact, ants are the number one nuisance pest in the United States.

Some species of ants, however, can pose threats to health and property. Carpenter ants, for example, excavate wood in order to build their nests, which can cause extensive damage to a structure. Fire ants, on the other hand, sting when threatened, resulting in painful welts that can be dangerous to allergic persons. These species should always be handled by a professional.

Regardless of the species all ants can contaminate food sources and small infestations can grow quickly, so any sign of an infestation should be dealt with promptly.

A trained and licensed pest professional is the best person to make a recommendation based on the proper identification of a particular ant species and the threats they could pose to health and property. Also, homeowners may have a preference as to which treatment is used, so it is important that they have a detailed conversation with their pest control company.  The cost of the treatments can vary depending on the size of the infestation and the property being treated.

There are as many ways to control ants as there are species of ants! Different species eat different things – making it almost impossible to inspect a single area and control the ant population.  The best strategy homeowners can employ when attempting to control ants is to clean, clean, clean. Wipe down counters, regularly remove garbage, clean up grease spills, rinse and remove empty soda cans or other recyclables and mop/sweep the floors. Homeowners should also keep food in sealed containers and keep pet food/water dishes clean. Outside the home, eliminate sources of moisture or standing water such as birdbaths or kiddie pools. Finally, seal cracks and holes around the home to close entry points.

Six Steps to an Ant Free Home

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Six Steps to an Ant Free Home

Simple prevention tips you can do today

 

Six Steps to an Ant Free Home

If you have never encountered ants in your house, office or school, count yourself among the lucky few. But if you’re like most people, you’ve fought your fair share of battles against this annoying pest – whether it’s a nest of pavement ants in your garage or a parade of odorous house ants marching across your kitchen counter.

Ants are the number one nuisance pest in the United States. With more than 700 species occurring in the country and more than 20 types known to infest homes and other structures, it’s not surprising that so many people report having issues with this pest.

However, there are some simple steps that homeowners can take to reduce your chances of unintentionally inviting ants into your home.

1. Know the popular hangouts

It’s probably not surprising to hear that ants most frequently infest kitchens. After all, kitchens are full of food and water, everything ants (as well as all other pests) need to survive. Bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms, basements, inside walls, and in/around air conditioning and heating units are also known to attract ants.

2. Eliminate water sources

Reducing moisture and standing water around your home can go a long way to help prevent ants. Repair leaky pipes, and routinely check under sinks for areas of moisture. Consider using a dehumidifier in damp basements, crawl spaces or attics. Outside, ensure that downspouts and gutters are functioning properly so that water flows away from the home’s foundation.

3. Eliminate food sources

Keeping your kitchen tidy will help to discourage ants from coming indoors. Wipe down counters and sweep floors regularly to eliminate crumbs and residue from spills. Store food in sealed pest-proof containers, and keep ripe fruit in the refrigerator. Wipe down sticky jars, especially any containing honey, syrup, soda or other sweets. Finally, use a lid on trashcans and dispose of garbage regularly.

4. Don’t discount your pets

Cats, dogs and other pets can inadvertently invite ants into your home. Their food and water bowls are an attractant for pests, so be sure to keep pet bowls clean and clean up any spilled food or water promptly. Opt to store dry pet food in a sealed plastic container rather than the paper bags they often come in, which can be easily accessed by ants and other pests. Inspect dog/cat doors to ensure that pests cannot get through. Remember that ants can fit through even the tiniest openings.

5. Block off or eliminate access points

Take time to inspect the outside of your home for easy access points. Trees and bushes should be trimmed away from the home, as branches can provide highways indoors for ants. Seal any cracks and crevices on the outside of the home with silicone caulk, paying special attention to areas where utility pipes enter.

6. Don’t go it alone

Without the proper training and tools, battling ants can be an uphill battle. What’s worse, an infestation can continue to grow if it is not properly treated. Some species of ants can cause serious property damage (like carpenter ants) and others (like fire ants) can pose health threats to your family. Even species that are considered nuisance pests (like odorous house ants) can contaminate food.

So if you do find ants in your home, contact a licensed pest professional right away. They will be able to identify the ant species, spot likely entry points, and determine an effective course of treatment.

Missing elderly woman found in fire ant nest

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Fire Ant Control

Ants, ants everywhere this summer

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Fort Mill, S.C., resident Angela Dykes’ cat, Prissy, discovered the invaders.

It was June when Dykes noticed Prissy playing with something – and when she walked over, she found her cat pawing a trail of ants.

“I saw that the trail led from our breakfast area to our fridge, and when I pulled it out, there were ants everywhere,” said Dykes, who hadn’t had a problem with ants in the three years she’s lived in her home.

Experts say that this summer has been the worst ant season they’ve seen in a decade. And while it may appear their number is up, professionals believe it’s actually that the ants’ visibility has grown.

“During a dry season, they come out of their colony and relocate somewhere with more moisture, like in between the walls of a home where the pipes drip, or under the foundation or hardwood floors of a home,” said Marsh Cassel of Terminix. “It’s not that there’s more ants, but that people are noticing them more.”

Ants are known as structural pests, or those that infest the home. Although they are commonly found inside the home, they can originate from under the concrete slab foundation or around the home’s perimeter. Commonly found in Charlotte are the odorous house ant and the Argentine ant.

Scott Ewers, an agricultural agent with the N.C. Cooperative Extension, recommends focusing on managing the ant population rather than trying to completely eradicate them. He suggests learning about the type of ant you’re dealing with, and then finding a solution that’s specific to the breed.

“We have people who call us with a description, or even bring in a sample,” Ewers said. “This can help us determine the type of ant and its behavioral patterns and come up with an effective solution.”

Ewers also suggests addressing the problem as soon as you see the first ant in your home, because the ant will leave behind a pheromone trail that helps lead other ants back into the home to forage for food.

Often, homeowners will try the do-it-yourself approach before calling a professional, which can cause the ants to scatter and spread, creating two new colonies.

David Bouniconti of Superior Pest Management has an effective do-it-yourself method: Moisten a paper towel with water and a mild dish detergent and wipe it over the area where the ants have found food and also down the trail of ants. This will kill the ants and also erase the pheromones they leave behind, making it harder for other ants to follow.

He also suggests keeping your cabinets clean, countertops wiped down, and caulking the area of your home where the ants are getting in.

No matter how clean your home may be, experts say ants are still able to find even the smallest amount of food, so wiping down your surface areas is key.

Professionals also say home maintenance, like fixing rotting wood and leaks and keeping the air conditioner condensation line away from your home’s exterior, is an easy preventative measure.

Maintaining your property by replacing mulch with wood chips and keeping trees and bushes off your home’s exterior can also keep ants away.

Dykes had an ant-free home for two months before they recently returned.

She again called a professional – and is keeping her fingers crossed that the ants are gone for good.