If you live or do business in here in Texas, you’ve probably seen or dealt with one of the six species of ants currently in the areas. Some of the most popular ant species seen across the state include carpenter ants, rover ants, crazy ants, fire ants, acrobat ants and pharaoh ants. To protect your home or business from ants, you need to learn about the behavior of these pests, take steps for prevention, and find effective treatment solutions should you find yourself with an infestation.
What are Ants?
Ants are of the most common insects across the globe and that remains true in Texas. There are currently over 12,000 identified species of ants worldwide with a general belief that there are many more still undiscovered. Within Texas, there are six species of ants to contend with. These pests are known to be social insects living in intricate community structures underground, in trees, in wood structures, or in above-ground mounds of dirt .Ants are well known for attacking left-out food, trash, and crumbs.
How Long Do Ants Live?
Throughout the great state of Texas, ants can live anywhere from a few weeks up to several years. Life span is reliant on the species of the ants, the conditions they live in, their exposure to predators, and what role the ants play within the colony. For example, some species of queen ants can live up to an 30 years, in comparison to some worker ants which may only live a few weeks.
How Do I Identify Ants?
Ants are generally tiny, six-legged insects with small bodies broken into three parts — a head, thorax, and abdomen. Most ants in the Lone Star State are black, red, and/or orange in color. Ants can frequently be mistaken for termites and vice versa so we’ve listed the most commonly found ants in Texas below and their characteristics.
The red imported fire ant is not an ant species native to Texas. Rather, it was originally introduced to the United States from South America. These ants are dark rust-red in color and can reach up to ⅜ inch in size. They typically build their mounded ground nests outdoors in areas that get a fair amount of sun.
Unfortunately, these pests have no known predators, and can thus grow in numbers exponentially once they find a place to build their colony. If they perceive a threat to their nest, the red imported fire ant will attack and sting people, wildlife, or even machinery. If stung, they will leave behind a red welt that can last for up to a week.
The Rover ant is not an ant native to Texas. In fact, it’s a fairly new Texas ant species that found its way to the United States from Argentina and Paraguay. Very small in size, rover ants are pale yellow to blackish-brown in color and have relatively large eyes compared to the size of their heads.
Though they are not aggressive in nature, rover ants do have a tendency to invade properties in large numbers. They are attracted to moisture, and thus build their colonies around rot or fungal decay.This Texas ant species is most active during the spring and summer seasons.
Tawny Crazy Ants
First discovered around Houston in 2002, tawny crazy ants arrived in Texas from South America. Among the smaller types of ants in Texas, the Tawny Crazy Ant is only about 1/10 inch in length. These ants are reddish-brown in color and are most recognizable by the way they move. Rather than traveling in a straight line, these small, uniformly-sized ants follow a zig-zag like pattern.
Since they became among the many types of ants in Texas, tawny crazy ants spread quickly throughout the southern part of the United States. They often show up on properties in large numbers. Their plentiful population along with their ability to bite (they cannot sting) creates a nuisance for landowners.
Carpenter ants are among the ants native to Texas. These large black ants grow to be ½ inch or more in length. They prefer moist, humid environments and will infest homes while developing and expanding their colonies.
They are often mistaken for termites (and vice versa). However, unlike termites, they do not eat wood. Rather, carpenter ants tunnel through wood to create galleries, and in the process, they leave behind piles of sawdust or “frass” on the floor. This Texas ant species can cause extensive damage to your home or property if left to its own devices.
Also called “sugar ants” or “piss ants,” pharaoh ants are some of the smallest ants, about 1/12-1/16 inch long, with a light tan to reddish body. pharaoh ants are the most commonly occurring indoor ant in Texas.
In hospitals it has been suspected to be a carrier of more than a dozen pathogenic bacteria including Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Pseudomonas and Clostridium. These ants do not sting and usually do not bite. Pharaoh ants are omnivorous, feeding on sweets (jelly, particularly mint apple jelly, sugar, honey, etc.), cakes and breads, and greasy or fatty foods (pies, butter, liver and bacon).
These tiny ants get their name because of their ability to lift their abdomen over their heads. They are light brown to black in color and the workers only grow to be around 2.5 and 4 mm long.
Although acrobat ants usually live outdoors in nests that they build in dead or decaying wood, sometimes they invade homes and establish colonies inside tunnels and galleries previously carved out by carpenter ants or termites. Therefore, if you see tiny black ants in your Texas home, this could be an indicator that you have another ant species infestation as well.
How Did I Get Ants?
Ants are always on the move in search of food and water sources. While some of these food and water sources may be on our property and are within our control, others are not. As ants like to eat naturally occurring items like nectar, fungus, seeds, and some mammals, even the cleanest home or business may be susceptible to an ant intrusion. Additionally, the frequent movement from location to location can create frustration when trying to get rid of ants with DIY methods. Unfortunately, an unsecured home or building can seem quite inviting for an ant colony during the colder winter months. Just because ants are more active in the warmer months, it doesn’t mean you don’t run the risk of dealing with ants during the colder times of the year.
How Do I Prevent Ants?
Ant prevention requires a multifaceted approach to have the best results. The best method of ant pest control is to not leave excess food, trash, spilled liquids, pooled water, or crumbs around your home or business property. While these are not necessary to attract an ant infestation, there’s no need to make your property more appealing.
Beyond this, professional pest control is the ideal approach. It’s important to properly identify the type of ants you’re dealing with and understand the right approach to get rid of that particular species. The approach to dealing with crazy tawny ants outside is different than the approach to exterminate pharaoh ants living inside your home or business. Reach out to a pest control expert, like Stellar Pest and Wildlife, if you suspect that you have a nest close to your home or business as we have the proper equipment and training to eradicate the infestation.
How to Prepare for Our Visit
To prepare for a Stellar Pest and Wildlife’s wasp treatment of your home or business, you should gather the following information:
* A list of any places that you have seen ants in your home or business
* The location of the nest if you have seen it
* Any location in your home or business where you have seen ants within the walls
* When you first observed the presence of ants in or around you property
In order to prepare your home or business, you should:
* Seal off any entry points into your house or business like soffits, attic vent screens and any screens that have holes or tears if nest is not located near or in building
* Remove any food sources or clean up spilled drinks
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