Ants are one of the most successful groups of insects. They are social insects that live in colonies which are usually located in the ground, but they may enter buildings for shelter and/or food.
Ants feed on practically every kind of food, but those entering homes are looking for sweets and/or protein-containing substances. About 700 species of ants occur in the United States and Canada. Of these, only about 25 species commonly infest homes. The biology and habits of each ant species are different, so a detailed knowledge of these for each species is necessary for effective control.
- More than 20 varieties of ants invade homes throughout the United States during the warm months of the year. Worldwide, there are more than 12,000 species, but only a small number cause problems.
- Destructive ants include fire and carpenter ants. Others ant types include the honey, Pharaoh, house, Argentine, and the thief ant.
- All ants share one trait: They’re unsightly and contaminate food.
- Ants range in color from red to black.
- Fire ants are vicious, unrelenting predators with a powerful, painful sting.
- At least 32 deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to severe allergic reactions to fire ant stings.
- Millions of dollars are spent each year eradicating fire ants alone.
- Carpenter ants range in size from one-quarter inch for a worker ant to up to three-quarters inch for a queen.
- A carpenter ant colony can have a long life span. Each colony is founded by a single fertilized queen that establishes a nesting site in a cavity in wood.
- A carpenter ant colony does not reach maturity until it contains 2,000 or more workers, which can take three to six years.