1,300 ant species currently call Australia home, with over 15,000 species and subspecies existing worldwide occupying every continent including Antarctica, but being especially common within tropical forests where they can make up more than half the total insect population.
Ants look suspiciously like termites and are often confused for termites by nervous homeowners, however ants have thinner waists between the thorax and abdomen, large heads, powerful jaws and elbowed antennae. Ants belong to the Hymenoptera classification which includes bees and wasps were as termites belong to the Blattoidea classification, which includes cockroaches. Therefore termites are actually more closely related to cockroaches than they are to ants.
The most common and well-known species of ants that we regularly come into contact with, within Australia include:
Ants are notoriously social insects, typically living in structured nest communities, these nests can be located underground, in trees or be ground level mounds. Carpenter ants nest in wood which can be extremely destructive to buildings. Some species, such as army ants, do not have permanent homes and seek food within periods of migration.
Ant colonies usually nest outside, setting up in wall cavities, roofs, under houses, in lawns and tree stumps. Potential entry points include windows, doors, cracks in foundations and holes in external walls. Ants will travel large distances in search of food, usually following trails that have been pre-established and congregating around any potential food source which they than slowly pull apart or join forces to carry back to the nest.
A queen or queens head the ant communities and their only function is to lay thousands of eggs to ensure the survival of the colony. Male ants usually only have one role, which is to mate with the queen, this sometime results in their death. Sterile females are generally the lifeblood of the colony as they are the workers and soldiers they forage for food, work on the nest, care for the young, protect the colony and perform many other duties necessary for the colony to survive.
Different factors determine the gender of each different ant species for example, almost every bulldog ant is born female with only one or two at a time being male whereas fertilised Black House ants become female and unfertilised ants become male.
Ants communicate by utilising chemicals which alert others to danger or lead them towards a promising food source. Ants typically eat nectar, fungus, insects and seeds, but some species, such as the army ants, may prey on small mammals, reptiles and birds. Bulldog ant is very aggressive and attack anything that comes near their nests, Argentine ants are also aggressive but generally only attack other ant species and driving them from their nesting areas.
The Black House/Garden ant is most common ant species, they salvage through anything and are therefore are potentially dangerous, with the most likelihood of any ant species of spreading diseases, such as salmonella, due to their foraging nature. Some ant species such as the Ghost ant can occupy several different nesting sites, whereas other stick together in one large nest. Some ant colonies can reach an astonishing one million plus.
Generally ants don’t live inside your house and occupy your same living space, they may use your skirting boards window frames and kitchen bench as a highway to get to some food, but it is more often than not a passing event during the rainy seasons that they come inside your house. Commonly people think that if the ants are seen inside their space, treatment needs to be done inside that area to keep them away, but more often than not chemical treatment is better suited to the outers of the property because ants will just find a way to walkaround your small area treatment. Spraying walls and deeply treating around the gardens and grassed areas is what we believe brings the best success rate. chemical sprays, gels, dusts, and baits can be used for ants, but we find the most successful treatment to spray and chemical dust. Many pest management companies wont guarantee ant issues because ants are so intelligent , but if a client is willing to pay for our services to treat for ants we will gladly guarantee a return services for minimum of 3 months and even more so if we find you are not living in a heavly bushed setting. We often find that our treatment have lasted well over a year, and we rarely eva get a call back reguarding our treatment.