Scientific Name: Formicidae
Lifespan: Queens 3-30 years. Workers 3 to 6 months. Varies.
Problem: Home invaders. Swarm sugars and food.
By tunneling through the earth, ants are a valuable insect capable of aerating or loosen soil, allowing air and water to permeate it and reach plant roots more easily. Ants that harvest seeds also assist in the even dispersal of grass seeds throughout your lawn and consume household pests including fleas and fly larvae.
However, ants are also a common house pest. Some ants invade pantries and will swarm any food that has been found by one of its scouts. Others, like carpenter ants, will feed on wood. Others bite, and some may cause painful stings.
Common Ant Pests
The Ant Life Cycle
- Eggs – Queen ants are full-time egg-layers and are capable of laying thousands of eggs in a day once fertilized. The small, white eggs are kept inside the main colony.
- Juveniles – Once hatched from their eggs, ants in their juvenile larvae form are practically immobile and continue to be kept within the colony to be passed around and fed, as with human children. The larvae then become pupae, the phase during which metamorphosis occurs. Their role in the hive will be figured out in this stage.
- Mature Bugs – Mature worker ants emerge from the pupae fully formed and ready for duty. The full grown worker ant is smaller than the queen (common garden ants are 3–5 mm in length, while the queen is 7–9 mm long and has wings).
Ant Habitats and Habits
The common black garden ant (Lasius niger) mainly nests underground, and within rotting wood, as do black carpenter ants (Camponotus pennsylvanicus), which are also common in many parts of the world.
Ants eat all kinds of foods, depending on their type. There are plant-eating ants, seed-storing ants, sugar-seeking ants, and ants that consume mainly protein– usually dead animals or bugs. Many ants are partial to sugar, as sugar provides them with energy.
How to Recognize and Get Rid of Ant Infestations
If your house is full of ants, or your property is being damaged by ant activity, you may have an ant infestation. Windex can be used to kill ants inside of your home, and sugar traps made with Borax, sugar, and water can sometimes be effective. But keep in mind that the best way to kill ants is to close off their entrances and remove their outdoor nests. Some insects, like carpenter ants, also need immediate attention.