Ants are one of the most common pest problems in the Boise area. Ants, like most other pests that enter your home, come inside to find shelter, food or water. Ants are a social insect; they live together in large groups called colonies. If you are having ants crawling around your floor or countertops, they are most likely the worker caste, which are sterile females. Other castes in the colony include the queen (fertilized female that lays the colonies eggs), and drones (males that don’t do anything but mate with queens). There are more than 12,000 species of ants throughout the world; however, this blog will focus on the most common ones seen in and around your home or business.
June and July are common months to start noticing small mounds of dirt on sidewalk and driveway cracks. These are Pavement Ants, which are often miscalled Sugar Ants. Sugar ant is a generic term often used for several ant species. (Actual sugar ants are named camponotus consobrinus and live in the Southeastern region of Australia.)
Pavement Ant is no misnomer, they get this name because they normally make their homes under pavement. Because their diet includes sweets and proteins, there are several effective baits to control this particular kind of ant.
Pharaoh Ants are another common pest in Southern Idaho. These ant colonies are polygamous and each colony can have several queens. An ant queen is simply the egg producer of the colony and can lay thousands of eggs in their life. That is why when dealing with Pharaoh Ants, and all other ants, it is important to focus treatment methods on killing the queen. This is also important to understand because killing the ants that you see out on your counter top do actually very little to take care of the problems long-term. Remember that these ants are workers looking for food and water, and killing them actually do very little to control the colony long-term. By far the most effective way to control pharaoh ants is using bait that the worker ants will take to the queen and to the young, thereby killing the entire colony, not just a few workers.
Another very common ant found in the Boise area is the Carpenter ant. These ants are most active at night and are rarely seen during the day. Although they do not eat wood, they leave piles that look like pencil shavings and can often be found in areas where wood is available such as houses, fences, firewood and tree stumps. They do however prefer sweet foods and again, bait is the most effective means of control.
Finally, there is the Harvester Ant and this is the least likely to be invading your home. They are often red in color, which lead people to call them ‘Fire Ants,’ which of course they are not. They also are mistakenly called ‘Fire Ants’ because of their aggressive nature; they will attack if they feel threatened. They nest in the desert, in fields and lawns because they eat grass seeds and arthropods. In fact their name, ‘Harvester Ant,’ comes because of their propensity to gather and eat seeds. The entries to their colonies usually are mound-like, particularly large colonies. Because of their diet, the best treatment is a protein based granular bait. For more information on how we can help take care of these pesky insects, watch our video:
Written by Ozzy of Barrier Pest Control.
CC Image By icx1 at Flickr.