How Destructive Are Ants?

How destructive ants are? What species is the most destructive? In this article, we will be discussing the different species of ants, the damages ants can cause to your home and what things you can do to get rid of them.

People generally consider ants as simply a nuisance pest. Unlike rodents and cockroaches, they are not carriers of diseases that can be transmitted to humans and animals. And it’s so hard to imagine that such a small insect can cause damage.

However, the reality is ants are a pest that can cause serious damage to wooden structures, including your home.

In this article, we will discuss how ants can damage your home and what you can do to prevent ants from infesting your home.

How can ants damage your home?

Some ants are more destructive than others. The Carpenter Ants, the largest species of ants in North America, have strong jaws that enable them to penetrate solid, undamaged wood – the type of wood that are chosen for houses.

Aside from Carpenter Ants, Fire Ants are also a problem in Australia. These ants prefer to stay outdoors, but when they successfully get inside a building, they will build colonies that may ultimately cause damage.

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Other common ant species in Australia

There are roughly 1,300 species of ants in Australia. Fortunately, there are only a few that we commonly encounter as pests. Each species varies in appearance, habits and behaviours. Knowing how to identify ants will help you in implementing preventive and control solutions, if you ever face an ant infestation.

Here are the common types of ants that pest control experts normally encounter in the course of their work.

Black House Ant. A cousin of the Coastal Brown Ant, it has a smooth, dark body and six spindly legs. It can usually be found in the kitchen, garage and sometimes dog poo. Black House Ant feed on sweet foods, breadcrumbs, meat products and grease.

Argentine Ant. One of the species that bites, Argentine Ants are light to dark brown in colour. They are an invasive species, driving away other ants from an area where they want to build a nest. They can be found either in dry or moist locations and build their nest in wood, mulch, old shrubs and tree cavities. Argentine Ants love sweets, live and dead bugs, cereals and rotting fruits and meat products.

Bull Ant. These ants are characterised with a large stinger that delivers a painful bite. They come in red or black colour. Bull Ants can be found in areas with large bush generally, with their nests built under logs or rocks.

Fire Ant. Aside from their unique antennae club, Fire Ants can be identified by their light copper head and dark brown body. They form self-contained nest mounds above their underground chambers. Their food sources include dead bugs, earthworms as well as sweet foods, proteins and fats.

Garden Ant. With no stinger and a tiny pedicel, Garden Ants are characterised by their dark brown or black colour. For the location of their colony, they favour the sunny side of buildings. They feed on high protein food and sweets.

Green Ant. As its name implies, these ants have a metallic green head and a black body. Their nests are small, built between path cracks and rocks as well as thick undergrowth and urban gardens. Their preferred foods include insects and animal materials.

Pavement Ant. Often misidentified as termites, Pavement Ants are blackish to dark brown in colour and have two dorsal spines with segmented antennae. They build their nest near water, beneath rocks or against building foundations. Pavement Ants love human and pet foods, sweet stuffs, etc.

Carpenter Ant. These ants can cause significant damage to wooden items, including house frames. Because of the extent of damages they can cause, Carpenter Ants are the ants to watch out for by property owners.

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What are carpenter ants?

Carpenter Ants (scientific name: Componotus spp.) are large ants that vary in colour from black to dark brown to brownish orange. They are characterised by a glossy, evenly rounded thorax with one unique node on pedicel. Their mandibles comprise 5-8 teeth.

Being polymorphic, a colony can have worker ants in varying sizes. Their nest is generally located in moist wood, including the bark of a rotting tree, decaying wood because they thrive in moist and humid environment.

Despite what their name implies, Carpenter Ants don’t feed on wood. It was named because of its habit of boring into wood when building their colony.

They love sugary foods like honeydew and the saccharine secretion of aphids and other insects. Carpenter Ants will also congregate on dead bugs to harvest their fluids and body parts for food.

Once Carpenter Ants invade, they become pervasive as they like to nest in satellites. This means that even if you discover an active colony, it will not be the only one in the vicinity.

How to get rid of carpenter ants?

Carpenter Ants have a habit of chewing and expelling wood in order to make a path as they search for the perfect location for their nest. Thus, if you see random mounds of wood shavings, or frass, in certain places around your home, that indicates the presence of Carpenter Ants.

Moisture is essential for them. If there is a leaky area in your house, it can serve as a beacon for Carpenter Ants. It’s not only moisture that attracts Carpenter Ants. They can even use any crack or small hole to gain access into your home. It doesn’t matter if it’s high above the ground as they can use any branch, pipes or wires to climb.

Knowing their habits will give you an idea on how to keep them away or to get rid of them, if they manage to get inside your home.

Find their nest with bait. Pest specialists suggest using bait that the ants will transport back to their nest. Use the bait to find where their colony is located. For bait, use jam, jelly or anything sweet and add baking soda. The latter is a natural pest killer.

Get rid of scent trails. Carpenter Ants search for food and travel using pheromone trails. Wipe surfaces where ants have travelled with essential oils to destroy this trail. This will prevent other ants from finding the food source or returning to their nest.

Tear down their nest. When you have discovered their nest, which is usually within walls, destroy it. Puncture holes around the area where you suspect where the nest is and blast boric acid through the holes. It may take a few blasts before the nest is destroyed.

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When do you need the help of professional pest experts?

If it feels like the work is too much for you, or you don’t have the time or inclination to deal with an ant problem, then it’s time to call a professional ant specialist. Likewise, if you see lots of ants around your home, but can’t find the nest.

Even if you manage to discover and destroy an active nest, there might still be more in your home. A reliable pest exterminator will make sure the ant nest is destroyed and will search around your property to check if there is more.

It is important to keep an eye on ants, regardless of how innocuous they appear to be. They can be causing damage without you noticing it for a long time. This is because the signs of infestation are subtle that they can easily be ignored as you go about your daily life.

Just remember that ants are hard workers, toiling night and day to forage for food and carve out tunnels in wooden structure to create a sanctuary for their eggs. If this is ignored, ants can make a dent in timber beams that can comprise the foundations of your home.

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