Ants are a very serious problem in South Florida. There are 10 most commonly seen types of ants, they are Acrobat Ants, Big Headed Ants, Crazy Ants, Florida Carpenter Ants, Florida Harvester Ants, Ghost Ants, Little Fire Ants, Pharaoh’s Ants, Pyramid Ants and White Footed Ants. Ants are very hard to control, mainly because every type of ant is different. They eat different things, Live in different places and are controlled by different products and methods. So, let’s get to it. We will discuss the most common ants in South Florida, where to find them, what they eat and how to control them.
All About Ants
Acrobat Ants- These ants are know to bend their heart shaped abdomen over the thorax when they are disturbed. They’re much slower than White Footed Ants, although they forage in much the same way. One colony may have several nesting sites, although they will only have one queen per colony. Acrobat Ants are uncommon inside the home, they like to nest in rotting wood or trees. The best method to control these ants is to limit the access they have to the structure.
Big Headed Ants- One in twenty of these ants have a “big head” which is very disproportionately larger than the body, while all of the other ones have “normal size heads”. These are slow moving ants that nest in soil or under debris with multiple queens per nest. These are particularly outside ants, however, they will make their way inside to forage for sweets, fats and proteins. You may notice sand or other debris that these guys are bringing inside. The best method of control is to restrict access to the home.
Crazy Ants- These ants get their name exactly how you think… they are crazy. They have no set pattern like most ants, they run very quickly in a crazy or erratic pattern. They nest in soil or in things resting on the ground (potted plants, bags of soil, toys, etc.) These ants have transitory nests, they may be seen moving their brood several times. They have a seasonal diet; eating proteins in summer and sweets & fats in spring and fall. These are probably the most difficult ants to control. They may be seen inside homes looking for food, the best method of control is baiting indoors and restricting access.
Florida Carpenter Ants- These ants are pale amber in color, and follow loose foraging trails. They have one queen per nest and like to nest in dead wood or inside homes in hollow voids. When seen in the home, they will be foraging for sweets and proteins. Insecticides will control colonies and nests, however, since these ants are nocturnal, bait may be effective in controlling them if the bait is placed near trails at night.
Florida Harvester Ant- These little guys have a very painful sting, although they are not aggressive. These are outside ants, as they forage for seeds and dead insects. You will see large obvious nests in the yard centered in the sun, they will often relocate due to the shade. Their nests may resemble charcoal or a pebble. Chemical control is usually unwarranted since these are outside pests.
Ghost Ants- These little ones get their name just how you would imagine… they look like ghosts. They are clear to whitish in color, with a dark head. The workers may emit a coconut like odor when disturbed. They run in an erratic fashion as do the crazy ants. This is one of the most common pests inside homes, they will nest inside wall voids, between books, or in cracks; outside they may hide in flower pots, under loose bark or on the underside of palm fronds. Inside these pests will most likely be seen in kitchens, bathrooms, on sinks, counters or floors. They can be easily controlled with bait. A barrier spray will be best for preventing them from coming inside.
Little Fire Ants- These guys pack a nasty little sting. They nest in exposed soil, flower pots or things left on the ground. They may forage in fruit trees in between the fruit where the 2 pieces touch. Control inside is easily accomplished with baits, however, outdoor control is very tough and research is being done on the subject now.
Pharaoh’s Ants- These ants are also very common indoors, they will gnaw their way into packaged food. You may see them on counters, or floors, however, they are easily controlled with bait. Nest inside buildings (homes and greenhouses) and in cracks and crevices. Can also nest between sheets of paper or layers of linens inside houses. Pest in hospitals and nursing homes and may act as mechanical vectors of pathogenic bacteria. Foragers can also be found outside or near structures.
Pyramid Ants- These ants get their name from the way they build their nest… like a pyramid or cone. These ants are not aggressive and do not sting. These ants are not commonly found inside the home, so chemical control is usually unwarranted. Pyramid ants have only one queen per nest and one entrance to the nest. The best method of control is to restrict access to the home.
White Footed Ants- You will see these ants on walls and vegetation, foragers will run in erratically when disturbed much like crazy ants. They will have numerous nests on the ground outside or in trees, shrubs or vegetation. Nests will be quickly abandoned when disturbed and may have hundreds of queens per nest. Control by dilute sugar baits, chemical barriers to prevent structural access, and spraying landscape to control aphids and scales and to contaminate nest sites.
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