In the classic movie "The Wizard of Oz", Dorothy — and her little dog, Toto — were frightened of lions, tigers and bears (oh my!). Well, when spring and summer arrive in Southwest Florida, folks around here have a different set of fearsome foes that are much smaller in size, but can unleash a massive amount of damage: ants.
There are many types of ants that annually swarm in this part of the country and lead to ant control problems — or make that, ant out of control problems. Below, we look at four common types that you should watch out for: ghost ants, bigheaded ants, Florida carpenter ants, and white-footed ants.
Ghost ants (Tapinoma melanocephalum) get their spooky name from the pale color of their legs and abdomen. Since these pests are a mere 1.3-1.5mm in length, they're hard to see and easily make their way through barely noticeable cracks and crevices — especially in kitchens, where they can feast on their favorite foods such as cereal, syrup, and food crumbs. They also enjoy congregating in greenhouses, potted plants, and even between books on a bookshelf. And to make things even worse, ghost ants typically have multiple nesting sites, as new queens vacate existing nests to build their own colonies.
It won't surprise you to learn that bigheaded ants (Pheidole spp.) do, indeed, have large heads relative to the size of their body. But what you may not know is that bigheaded ants are omnivores, which means they eat arthropods and other insects. What's the problem with this? Well, it's that if bigheaded ants show up on your property, then there is a very good chance that you have other types of ants squatting there as well. When there are no insects to munch on, bigheaded ants will also eat other foods as well, like sugar, seeds, and even grease. They can wreak havoc in pantries, devour houseplants, and while they don't typically go out of their way to bite, they can pack a painful punch if disturbed.
Florida Carpenter Ants
There are 13 species of Florida carpenter ant in the state. Two of the most common are Buckley (Camponotus floridanus) and Emery (Camponotus tortuganus). These bi-colored pests vary in size, with workers reaching up to 3/8th of an inch, and winged females reaching up to 3/4th of an inch. Because they can fly, many people mistake Florida carpenter ants for termites. However, winged termites have four wings of equal size, while Florida carpenter ants have a thin or pinched waist, and their hind wings are smaller than their front wings. From May to November, swarms of Florida carpenter ants leave their colonies from late afternoon through the night to mate and create new colonies. They prefer heading to empty spaces indoor or outdoors, but will also make their homes by excavating rotting or pithy wood, or even Styrofoam. As for gourmet choices, their favorites include syrup, honey, sugar, grease, and they'll also eat other insects and spiders (both living and dead). And as for weaponry, Florida carpenter ants don't sting, but they most certainly bite — so be careful!
Just as bigheaded ants have big heads, white-footed (Technomyrmex difficilis) ants have whitish tips on their legs. Other than their coloring, what sets them apart from other types of ants is how rapidly they reproduce. In a span of weeks, a new colony can generate millions — yes, that's right: millions! — of ants. It is also easy for these insects to find sources of food, because they eat all kinds of stuff such as proteins, sweets, plant secretions, and even dead insects. The good news is that white-footed ants typically don't cause structural damage. The bad news is that they can quickly become a major nuisance and, in some cases, a health risk as well.
Fight Back with Our Ant Control Solutions
Whether ghost ants, bigheaded ants, carpenter ants, white-footed ants, or any other uninvited pest has infiltrated your home, do not worry: the ant control experts at Hall's Termite & Pest Co. are here to help you fight back!
Our highly-effective and affordable residential and commercial ant control programs include:
Learn MoreTo learn more and for a free estimate, contact us today at 941-536-5848. Discover why homeowners and businesses trust our proven ant control solutions!