Category Archives: Ant Control

The Ants Go Marching – How to Get Rid of Ants in the House

The warmer summer months bring with them South Florida summer rains and increased ant activity. You might have already seen ants marching into your South Florida home over the last several weeks. Although not all types of ants bite or sting, what you might not realize is that in addition to being a nuisance, certain types of ants can pose a risk to your health and property. Carpenter ants tunnel through wood to build nests and can cause severe property damage. Fire ants can bite or “sting” and cause severe allergic reactions in some. That’s why it’s important to address any potential ant infestation as soon as possible.

Ants or Termites?

It can be difficult to tell the difference between the flying forms of ants and termites. In warm weather, both species “swarm” and leave the nest in large numbers to mate and establish new colonies. To the untrained eye they can be very difficult to tell apart. There are three easy ways to tell flying ants and termites apart here is what to look for:

  • Wing size – Termite wings are all equal in length and extend well past the abdomen. Ants have wings which are unequal in length and generally end at the tip of the abdomen.
  • Antennae shape – Antennae on termites are straight and bead-like, but on ants they are elbowed.
  • Waist size – Ants have a pinched waist, but termites have no constriction in the body and are more streamlined.

Flying Ant or Termite?If you aren’t sure, call Hulett today to schedule your professional inspection.

Ants are typically found inside the home in areas with high moisture such as in kitchens, on counters, under sinks and in bathrooms. Dripping faucets and leaking pipes may also be important water sources that ants will use. So it is important to fix any leaks immediately.

Removal Tips

Most ants that are found in homes nest outdoors and enter homes only to search for food or water. The main tip to get rid of ants is to create a less inviting environment for them, including removing food and water sources.

The summer rains and warmer temperatures also make it easy for the plants in your yard to flourish. As your plants grow out and touch the side of your house, ants and other pests are able to use the tree branches as a little bridge right into your home. Trim shrubs and trees away from the home regularly to help prevent pest problems.

Inside the home, keep your kitchen clean. Seal food items properly, clean counters, fix leaky pipes and remove unnecessary clutter. Some species are particularly troublesome to get rid of. Just call Hulett at 1-866-611-2847 for the most effective targeted pest control treatments for your home, and schedule a free in home inspection and estimate.

Giant ants invade Florida Museum

Giant ants invade Florida Museum

On July 7, two six foot nine inch, 1100 pound ants titled “X” and “O”, were installed via crane and put on display in Gainesville at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Sculptor, Susan P. Cochran, of Palm Beach cast the giant, bronze eye catching pieces of art. “X” and “O” were installed outside of the museum with a reception following.  These large scale ant sculptures have received international acclaim.

The Florida Museum of Natural History will remain home to the ants for the next year for viewing, as part of The University of Florida’s Creative B summer Program. This program targets the University’s artistic students for a consolidated and collective resource for participants to enjoy a wide range of artistic and cultural events.

For more on the invasion of the ants please click here

Teamwork and Leadership Taught by Crazy Ants

Teamwork and Leadership Taught by Crazy Ants

A single species of ant, known as the longhorn crazy ant, was recently studied for a science journal, which led to some unique discoveries about ants and how they work together, as well as a system they use that humans don’t when it comes to leadership.

The study focused on looking at a group of ants that need to move a specific object that is too large for one ant. This led to a group of five to ten ants working together to move the object toward their nest. By observing this process the scientists were able to determine that it is unlikely ants have some kind of hive mind or collective intelligence, because not only did they change which worker was doing what, but they changed leaders based on whether the ant knew where to go next or not.

This suggests that ants aren’t actually some kind of conformist creature that can only act in a group, and that they each actually have individual personalities and knowledge. Ants have just evolves over millions of years to work together while still maintaining their individuality.

The most unique thing that these ants do comes with their leadership change. The ants would change up who was the leader of the group carrying the object based on when the previous ant ran out of knowledge about where to go next. This suggests the ants choose a leader solely based on knowledge and only knowledge in that moment. There wasn’t any one ant that had the status of leader who wasn’t leading in that moment. A process that humans don’t exemplify due to the power that often comes with leadership.

Maybe there are a few more things we can learn from ants.

Ant Slaves!

Ant Slaves

Scientists believed that the life of a Japanese oak blue butterfly caterpillar resembled that of a queen ant due to its loyal ant servants. A new paper, published in the journal Current Biology shows the Japanese species in a new light.  A three-member team at Japan’s Kobe University noticed that the ants who served a Japanese oak blue butterfly caterpillar did so constantly. They were pulled away from their daily duties even the search for food. Scientists assumed that they stayed with the caterpillar in some sort of symbiotic relationship for the sake of benefiting from a sugary syrup-like secretion from the caterpillar.

However, a free exchange would see lines of ants being pleased to serve the caterpillar for a time and then move on. The Japanese researchers showed that it was the same ants which constantly stood guard over the caterpillar.

With the help of both chemical and visual signals, scientists discovered that the caterpillar actually controls its “bodyguards.” The ants who sip its sugary secretions begin to take cues from the movement of the caterpillar’s ‘tentacles’ and abide by its instructions.

The caterpillar must secure safe transformation into a butterfly. During this metamorphosis, it needs protection from predators such as wasps and spiders. Its pheromones leave the vulnerable creature with an aggressive brigade of loyal ant bodyguards.

“There are glandular cells near the tentacles that could be secreting chemical signals,” researcher Masaru Hojo told New Scientist. “It is possible that both visual and chemical signals are stimulating the ant aggression.”

https://www.rt.com/news/311490-japanese-caterpillar-zombie-ants/

Sahara-Dwelling Ants Have Secret Heat Shield

Sahara-Dwelling Ants Have Secret Heat Shield

The silver ant stands out as it marches across the desert sands, appearing as a flash of metal.  They are only able to make forays outside their burrows lasting for ten minutes at a time in the midday heat, but that is enough to survive in this harsh environment.

Scientists have long wondered how this creature can withstand temperatures beyond 150 degrees, and thrive.  Recent research shows that it’s the ants coating of hairs that protect its body from both sun and heat.

Nature’s engineering has created a system of tubular hairs with a triangular shape, the bottom or flat part of the triangle facing down against the ant’s body.  Between that flat bottom is an air pocket.

The hairs have two functions that work to protect the creature from overheating.  Their triangular shape and color are anti-reflective, reducing the penetration of sunlight and therefore heat into the body.  At the same time, the hairs grow straight up but run parallel to the surface of the ants’ bodies, with an important air pocket that allows for cooling.  The two features work together in efficient combination.

The study’s conclusions have been published in the journal Science.  The researchers are now on the path to copying this amazing system to create a “metasurface” that could withstand very high temperatures.

The War Between Ants and Termites Is Ancient

The War Between Ants and Termites Is Ancient

Scientists who study insect behavior are well versed in ant and termite conflicts, which are common among known species of both types of bugs.  But a recent find shows these wars have been raging for millions of years.

In southern Mexico, in the state of Chiapas, a French research team has found evidence of ants and termites, encased in amber, and engaged in combat.  Insects in amber are not a common find, but to have discovered a moment of battle preserved in this substance is a rare and amazing phenomenon.

The piece of amber in question measures only 1.2 centimeters long, 1 centimeter wide, and 1.2 centimeters high and had to be examined in slices.  To do this, a CT scan was used to get fine resolution when viewing the slices.  The result showed a raid by ants on a termite colony.

This discovery confirms that ant and termite behavior is largely unchanged over a vast expanse of time. The only other amber to show similar behavior was documented in a specimen found Venezuela, circa 1850.  The recent piece of amber discovered in Chiapas is estimated to be between five and 20 million years old.

Ant Habits | Where Do Ants hide?

Where Do Ants hide?

Kitchen                    

It’s probably not a surprise the kitchen is considered a favorite ant hangout. In addition to food access, the sink provides a water source that ants need to survive. If you’re lax about immediately cleaning up crumbs and spills, you may be inviting ants in.  Here are a few tips to keep ants out of the kitchen:

  • Store sweet staples like sugar, syrup and honey in plastic containers that snap shut, and wipe them down to remove any sticky residue. You can also place a bay leaf inside canisters of dry goods like flour to keep the ants out. The herb’s pungent scent repels ants and other common pantry pests.
  • Clean up grease spills from countertops and floors as soon as they happen.
  • Any empty juice or soda containers should be rinsed out before recycling or throwing away. And, make sure to take the trash out regularly.
  • Check the fruit bowl – any over ripe fruit will attract ants.
  • Keep an eye out for water buildup in the sink and leaks around the faucet.
  • If you have pets, be sure to pick up any leftover food and wash the bowls regularly.

Bathroom

Areas around the house with excess moisture are known to attract ants, so bathrooms are highly susceptible to an infestation. Carpenter ants, for example, often build nests in damp areas like behind bathroom tiles or under sinks. To prevent an infestation in the bathroom, homeowners should:

  • Occasionally, inspect sinks, toilets and tubs for any leaks or drips.
  • Give the bathroom a thorough cleaning by scrubbing the floors with disinfectant cleaner, and wiping down the inside of drawers with warm soapy water.
  • Check to ensure shampoo, lotion and soap bottles are secured and no contents have spilled out of their containers.

Other Common Hideouts

Ants can easily find a way indoors through even the tiniest cracks, so other areas of the home are also common hideouts. The NPMA survey revealed ants are also found in the following areas:

  • Inside walls (73%)
  • Bedrooms (61%)
  • Living rooms (60%)
  • Basements (54%)
  • Air conditioning and heating units (37%)

Caribbean Crazy Ants

What are crazy, hairy ants? Are they referred to as Rasberry Crazy Ants or Caribbean Crazy Ants?

  • These are probably all one and the same species Nylanderia pubens with multiple common names.
  • Rasberry crazy ants were first found in Texas in 2002. They are believed to be related to a species from the Caribbean.
  • Caribbean crazy ants are found in Florida – have likely been there since the 1950’s but pest professionals have been receiving more and more reports since 2000.
  • The more common Crazy ant (Paratrechina longicornis) looks similar to the Rasberry and Caribbean crazy ants, but have marked differences. Their antennae and legs are significantly longer and their bodies are slightly larger. Their populations are also more spread out around the U.S.

Crazy ants get their common name from their habit of running in an erratic, jerky manner when searching for food.

Crazy, hairy ants are an invasive species by definition so are very good at invading new areas. Ants react to drought and rainfall in different ways so weather can play a role in their movement. Additionally, they  are very good hitchhikers and can be transported to new areas as stowaways in cargo.

In the U.S. these ants are found in South Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Houston and surrounding areas of coastal Texas.

Specifically for Texas, according to Texas A&M University’s Center for Urban & Structural Entomology, “high numbers of the ants have been found in localized spot infestations in southeast Houston (Harris County), including Houston, Pasadena, Deer Park, Friendswood, San Jacinto Port, Pearland, Seabrook and La Porte. Localized infestations have also been confirmed from areas in Bexar, Brazoria, Cameron, Fort Bend, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Hidalgo, Jefferson, Jim Hogg, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Nueces, Orange, Walker and Wharton counties. This ant has the potential to spread well beyond the current range in coastal Texas.”

These ants prefer tropical/semi-tropical climates.  Colonies typically grow in warmer months with populations peaking in August/September. Their numbers remain high through October and November.

Although these ants usually nest outside, they will forage indoors in large numbers in cooler temperatures or after rainfall. Inside, crazy ants usually nest underneath floors or carpeting, inside wall voids and soffits.

Crazy ants can become a problem when they infest a home or another structure for a couple of reasons:

  • Extremely large colonies resulting in massive infestations which can be difficult to treat, often requiring multiple treatments.  Colonies may grow to about 1 million.
  • These ants also have an odd propensity to nest in electrical boxes and around electrical equipment, causing short – outs and electrical equipment failure.