Ants are in the hymenopteran family. Hymenoptera are insects with two pairs of membranous wings with the fore wings much larger than the hind wings. However, in ants only reproductive forms may have wings. Ants along with honey bees, yellow jackets and some paper wasps are social insects that produce a colony made of various specialized types of individuals. Ants feed on a variety of foods, therefore making them carnivorous, herbivorous and/or omnivorous. Sugary materials are preferred by some species; others mostly feed on fatty or protein-rich foods. Some ants are important predators of spiders and insect pests. Ants can be aggressive, stinging and biting to protect assets. In addition, carpenter ants can cause structural damage and house infesting species such as the pharaoh ant can mechanically move disease organisms around. The following are descriptions of some common species of ants found in Northern Nevada.
Carpenter And Velvety Ants – See Wood Destroying Insect for more information
Harvester ants(Pogonomymex, sp) Two Species are primarily in Nevada:
California (P. californicus) are 5 -6mm long with a rusty red color.
Western harvester (P. occodentalis) – 10mm in length with a dark red to reddish brown color.
Nest of the harvester ants are very conspicuous since they often produce large mounds. They are fairly large, red or dark brown in color. They are herbivorous, primarily feeding on seeds. They rarely enter homes. Both species will bite, hang on and sting. Unlike other ant stingers, the California species stinger detaches easily and remains in the wound. Reaction to the sting is in the lymph channels and symptoms may persist for as long as 37 days.
Pavement ants (Tetramorium caespitum) – Can be a frequent nuisance in areas of the state where they have become established (Carson City, Clark, Elko and Washoe Counties). They are small (3 to 4 mm in length), hairy blackish-brown ants with pale legs and antennae. As the name might suggest, they commonly nest under pavement slabs, especially next to lawn areas. Rocks and areas under slab-construction homes are common nest sites. Foraging indoors is most common in the summer. They are omnivorous eating dead and live insects, honeydew, meats, grease, young plants and planted seeds. They seem to prefer areas where grease or oily substances can be found.
Pharaoh ants (Monomorium pharaonis) are some of the most persistently annoying and hard to control ants in homes. They are very small and yellow or pale red. Unlike most other ants, pharaoh ants have adapted well to nesting indoors and colonies may spread throughout a building. In addition, pharaoh ant colonies readily spilt into smaller colonies when disturbed. They feed on a wide range of foods that include syrups, jellies, grease, cake and pet foods.
Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) is about 1/8 inch long, light to dark brown in color, with one node. The workers are all one size. This ant was introduced into Nevada, and has become one of the most common ants in Nevada, infesting landscapes and households. It is a strong forager with long visible trails. The Argentine ant prefers sweets, but will feed on a variety of foods. It protects homopterous insects such as aphids and mealybugs so that it can feed on the honeydew they produce. Its strong preference for nectar and honeydew available in the warmer months makes control with baits more difficult. The Argentine ant is very competitive and often becomes the predominant ant species. Their colonies can become very large and have multitude queens. Colonies can become interconnected, forming “super colonies.” Colonies can also expand by “budding”. Budding occurs when one or more queens, each accompanied by workers, move to a new site. Their colonies with multiple of queens make it very difficult to control. Nesting sites are varied, and include open ground, under objects such as boards and potted plants and along walkways and building foundations. Nest can be found in structural voids.
General Ant Control – Sanitation is an important aspect of any ant-control program indoors or out. Crumbs, grease, food scraps, pet food and other foods attractive to foraging worker ants should be eliminated. Perimeter treatments with residual sprays applied around foundations and to trails (sometimes located in crawl spaces) can prevent many ants from foraging indoors. Ant baiting is another control method that is often very effective in controlling most ants. Effective bait contains food ingredients on which the ants will feed. The active ingredient must kill slowly enough to allow the ant to return to the colony and feed the bait to all other members of the colony. The acceptable treatment where ant mounds are found outside in lawns and landscape would be a residual insecticide. For control of ants indoors, several techniques may be involved. Control of some ants such as carpenter ants, fire ants and pharaoh ants requires more specialized treatment. Carpenter ant treatment is discussed on the page titled Wood Destroying pest.
Last Updated (Tuesday, 15 June 2010 12:59)