Carpenters – the ants that don’t fix your home
Besides the obvious property damage concerns termite cause, carpenter ants produce the second highest amount of property damage. Carpenter ants will make their nest in wood. To do so they must first hollow the wood out, much like termites, causing severe damage.
Carpenter ants can be difficult to detect, despite the fact that their colonies can reach up to ten thousand workers. If you don’t actually see the ants, one indication of an infestation comes after it is already too late. You may see small holes and shavings from the wood they have hollowed.
Carpenter ants are known to attack damn or decaying wood. One of the easiest ways to prevent an infestation is to remove any decaying wood from the perimeter of your home and keep your firewood away from your home. To avoid issues, some other tips include keeping the wood to dirt ratio near your home very low and look in crawl spaces and other small areas regularly.
If you think you might have a carpenter ant issue, call your local pest control company so that they may formulate a proper plan to control the issue before any major damage is done.
For more information on carpenter ants, click here
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Crazy ants. Named one of the most invasive species of bugs, their sudden explosion in population has brought a large amount of attention to southern states such as Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi and Florida. Named for their psychotic behavior, crazy ants often try to get into any space that they’re able to fit. Although the ants do not have a harmful bite to humans, they still cause many problems for homeowners or farmers who often find their homes, appliances or even their bodies to be covered in the small insects. Ants even crowd around animals such as cows or chickens, leading to asphyxiation. This large amount of small bugs is quickly becoming a problem. And so far, there hasn’t been a method found which stops them.
Originally found in Texas in 2002, crazy ants are descendants of Nylanderia pubens, a species of ant which has been in Florida since the 1950s. However, those ants are much more relaxed and less invasive – many scientists at first doubted that such insane ants could be relatives of this calm species. But as the number of ants quickly multiplied, people knew something must be done. In 1999, the National Invasive Species Council was founded in order to combat the effects that intrusive species. This included 13 federal agencies and departments. Groups such as the Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service all combined in order to work together against these up and coming menaces. As the amount of crazy ants rapidly grew, the attention to the NISC did as well. They summoned a committee of different educational entomologists and state representatives to pool their information. Most concluded that to begin to combat these invaders, a great amount of funding would be needed. But this meeting took place in 2008, when the American economy began to fall. Money would be short on hand, especially for such a minor issue as this. Even now, the government spends over $120 billion a year on intrusive species that take over different environments. The imported red fire ant costs over $1 billion a year – to Texas alone. Crazy ants, which are spreading much faster than fire ants, could quickly become an expensive problem.
What can homeowners do to prevent infestations?
- Seal points of entry around the house including small openings and cracks around doors and windows.
- Clean up food spills, keep honeydew in closed containers in the fridge and remove other potential attractants as soon as possible.
- Remove potential nest sites/debris from around the exterior of the home
- If you suspect an infestation, call a professional to evaluate the best course of treatment.
Homeowners must pay close attention to signs of an infestation and take action if ants are found. The first step to eliminating an infestation is to identify the ant species, which will help determine the necessary course of treatment. However, this can be a challenge for someone without proper training.
Experts from Hulett Environmental Services recommend the following steps that homeowners can do today to thwart an ant infestation.
- Block off access points. Take time to inspect the outside of your home for cracks and crevices, paying special attention to areas where utility pipes enter. Seal any small holes or gaps with a silicone-based caulk. Keep tree branches and other shrubbery well trimmed and away from the structure.
- Eliminate sources of water in and around the home. Indoors, routinely check under sinks for areas of moisture and repair any leaky pipes. Consider using a dehumidifier in damp basements, crawl spaces or attics. Outside, ensure that downspouts and gutters are functioning properly so that water flows away from the home’s foundation.
- Keep a clean kitchen. Wipe down counter tops and sweep floors to remove crumbs and residue from spills. Store food in sealed containers, and keep ripe fruit in the refrigerator. Also, make sure to dispose of garbage regularly.
- Don’t forget about the pets. After mealtime, keep pet bowls clean and wipe up any spilled food or water around them promptly. Store dry pet food in a sealed plastic container rather than the paper bags they often come in, which can be easily accessed by ants, rodents and other pests.
Someone captured footage recently of an ant colony working together to haul off an enormous dinner. Some ants crawl under and support the meal, while others form a chain to pull it away. Together, the ants are able to move something hundreds of thousands of times their weight.
The footage was posted to LiveLeak. Check it out: