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Ants, how well do you know them?

How well do you know your ants?

I think everybody should study ants. They have an amazing four-part philosophy. Never give up, look ahead, stay positive and do all you can.

Jim Rohn

By BRADLEY HIKEY

Social Habits

Ant colonies consist of three Castes (types) of ants: a queen, female workers and males. Queen spends her entire life mating with male ants and laying eggs. Ant colonies are founded by a single fertilized queen ant, who lays her eggs in a nest and feeds them with her own saliva. The population of a colony may range from as little as 2000 to over a million. The largest Super colony in the world is considered to be that of the Argentine Ant, one of which stretches over 6000kms along the Mediterranean coast containing millions of interconnected nests and billions of workers.

Ant societies have division of labour, communication between individuals, and an ability to solve complex problems. These parallels with human societies have long been an inspiration and subject of study

Diet

Ants can eat almost anything, using their jaws to squeeze juice from dead insects or plants. House ants love sugary foods and are especially melons. In addition to sweets many ants enjoy a protein based diet feeding on meats and oils. When they leave the colony to forage for food, ants leave a pheromone trail that lets other ants know not to visit the same area twice. Some ants will even “farm” populations of aphids protecting them from other insects whilst feeding on the honeydew they leave behind.

Habitat

Ants look for colony sites near moisture and food. They often colonize tree stumps, firewood, cracks in the sidewalk or under rocks, mulch or timber. In the home, they may nest in wall cavities, in wood or in moist areas near leaky bathrooms. They are also common under the house and under decks.

Prevention

Ants can be frustrating to have in the house. Black house ants release a unique smell when squished, and carpenter ants can cause damage to your home. To prevent ants, eliminate standing water and seal cracks and openings inside the house. Stack firewood away from your house, and cut any tree or plant branches back so that they are not touching the walls and providing a path for the ants.

Treatment

Enticing ants to eat a prepared bait is the most effective way of eliminating the entire colony. The type of bait used needs to match prefered diet for example a protein based bait for protein feeders and a sugar based bait for sugar feeders. Once the ant brings the bait into the nest it then gets passed around the colony and will eliminate the queen over time. Barrier treatments can also be effective in reducing ant ingress into the home.

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