Authors: Myles Bader
ANTS & THEIR RELATIVES
ANTS & THEIR RELATIVES
There are literally thousands of methods of controlling and killing ants. However, there are only a handful of methods that are really effective. Ants can be viewed as a well-organized military unit that is trained to find food and water at all costs. They are tenacious and if there is any food or water to be located they will find it. There are over 12,000 species of ants in the world with California having over 200 species.
The average life expectancy of an ant is only 45-60 days. An ant brain has about 250,000 brain cells. The human brain has about 10,000 million brain cells; however, a colony of 40,000 ants has the same brain capacity as a human.
There are fewer ants running around when there is a lot of rain. When there is a dry weather period they multiply very quickly. Ants can be both a help to and a real pest. When they are just in the soil, they will aerate the soil and will even kill other pests like termites and other insects.
Ants are found everywhere in the world and number more than any other land creature. Their societies are well organized and revolve around a queen and males with neuter workers and females doing the day-to-day chores. They know who is a member of a particular colony and will not allow an outsider to enter their nest. They protect the colony by squirting formic acid at predators and can spray up to 1-foot away.
A colony is capable of having as many as 250,000 ants with the queen being imprisoned for life in a special chamber. In large number, they are capable of killing a baby chick or small bird. Ants that win a battle with another colony may even bring back workers as slaves to work for their colony.
Ants are not all bad and if they are not pestering us in our homes should probably be left alone to assist us in reducing the number of other pests that are on our property such as cockroaches, larvae of the filth fly, scale insects, mealybugs and some beetles.
Ants are very close relatives of wasps and bees and are easily recognizable. Their wingless adult form is known as “workers.” The winged variety is often confused with winged termites, especially when they leave their nest to mate and for a new colony.
There are 3 characteristics that will help to determine the difference between ants and termites:
The hind wings of ants are smaller than its front wings; the termite’s front and hind wings are approximately the same size. Both termites and ants will lose their wings after a short flight.
The ant has a thin waist and the termite does not, it is about the same thickness.
The female and worker ants have a bent or elbowed antennae; the termite’s antennae are not relatively straight and not elbowed.
Ants undergo a complete change, called a metamorphosis, which includes passing through stages such as egg, larval, pupae and adult. The larval are relatively immobile and resemble a worm and look nothing like the adult. Ants are also very social insects and they have their own duties, which are divided among the various types of adults.
The queen is responsible for all the reproductive functions of her colony and she is much larger than the other adult ants. They lay eggs and will sometimes take part in the feeding and grooming of the larvae. The female workers are all sterile and are involved in the gathering of food, taking care of the larvae, build tunnels and defend the colony. The females take up the bulk of the colony since males do not take part in colony activities only mate with the queen. The males are fed and cared for by the female workers.
One of the best methods of keeping ants out of the house is to regularly spray an all-natural deterrent solution around the outside of the home. If you have any bushes or trees that touch the house, remove the problem.
The following are identifying features of common household ants:
There are specific characteristics when identifying ants and you will need a magnifying glass to determine the number of nodes at the back of their abdomen. By counting the number of nodes you can determine the identity of the ant.
One-node ants are the Argentine ant, carpenter ant, common house ant and the velvety tree ant.
Two-node ants are the pavement ant, pharaoh ant, red imported fire ant, southern fire ant and thief ant.
Ants also hate termites and will kill and eliminate their nest when they can find one.
PREVENTION INSTEAD OF POISONS
Be sure and keep all tree branches and bushes away from the house, which makes it easier for them to reach the windows and cracks.
If you find cracks, best to patch them.
Never leave any traces of foodstuffs around, they will find even the smallest trace. Not even on dishes.
Standing water near the house will also invite ants.
Foods left in containers or packages that have been opened and left in the cupboard need to be sealed
Rinse off and wipe dry and medicine bottles, syrups and jelly jars.
Be sure and clean your kitchen floor every day.
OLD COFFEE GROUNDS SPREAD AROUND THE OUTSIDE OF THE HOME WILL NATURALLY REPEL ANTS…………………………………………..
GENERAL ANT REMEDIES
OLD TIME REPELLANTS
There are many herbs that will repel ants naturally and these will be recommended as ant repellants. One of the best natural ones is fresh mint. If you have an ant invasion, just place some fresh mint (if you have a plant) anywhere they are congregating and they will all pack their bags and leave, very fast!
GET OUT THE MAGNIFYING GLASS
If you have an ant problem, one way to eliminate the problem is to follow them back to where they made their entrance into your home and seal it up tight. Killing them before you find out where they are coming from will not eliminate the problem, just make them mad.
WATER TORTURE MAY NOT WORK
If you are lucky enough to locate the nest, this will be the best way to eliminate the entire colony. Pouring cold water into the colony nest will not work since ant can survive a long time under cold water. You must use either boiling water or hot paraffin to do the trick.
GIVING THE QUEEN HEARTBURN
This concoction is a treat for the queen and when left for the workers they will bring the treat home to their queen as a present. The queen gets excited and quickly gobbles up the goody and within a few hours dies of heartburn. Make sure this treat is out of reach of children and animals that you wish to have around for a while. If they do ingest it the boric acid may make them very sick. However, it doesn’t take very much to do the job and eliminate the queen so don’t make it too toxic. A little boric acid goes a long way.