Arizona has a wide range of ant species. The basic ant is small, less than ½ inch in length, and red, brown, or black. Pharaoh ants are more honey-colored. The antennas on ants are bent like an elbow. They have a head, thorax, and gaster. There is a waist between the thorax and gaster called the petiole. Although ants and termites are often confused, termites do not have a waist and their antennas are straight.
Common Arizona Ants
Most ants are nuisances but all are unwelcome inside homes. Here are the most common ants that get into homes and cause problems:
- Argentine Ant
- Carpenter Ant
- Desert Fire Ant
- Odorous House Ant
- Pavement Ant
- Pharaoh Ant
- Southern Fire Ant
Ants can cause medical problems in two ways. First, as they walk around on your food-preparation areas, utensils, and food, they can spread E.coli, shigella, and salmonellosis, which can make you sick. The Pharaoh ant can also spread staphylococcus, clostridium, and streptococcus.
In addition, some ants sting. The desert fire ant and southern fire ant are especially dangerous because they are very aggressive and tend to nest near homes or other buildings. They will sting someone that gets on their nest mound, with little provocation. Small children and the elderly can get a fatal dose of venom and die, especially if they fall on an ant mound and can’t move away quickly enough. If a person is allergic to ant stings, they can die from one sting. Fire ant stings form a pustule a day or so after the sting. People can get secondary infections when they scratch the stings.
Lifecycle Of An Ant
Ant nests may house many thousands of ants. Each nest starts with two reproductives, or swarmers. These ants fly from the nest to mate. The male goes off and dies after mating. The female, or queen, lands in a good place for a new colony. First, she twists off her wings and digs a chamber to lay eggs in. The queen ant takes care of the eggs that are born until they hatch into legless larvae. After more care, the larvae pupate. When they leave their pupa, they emerge as full-grown adults. Most of the eggs are barren females called workers. They care for the eggs, larvae, nest, find food, and feed the queen. The queen never leaves the nest once enough workers are alive to care for her. The queen spends the rest of her life laying eggs. The other caste of ants is the soldiers. They protect the workers while they forage. They also protect the nest. The soldiers have enlarged mandibles that help with that.
What Attracts Ants
Ants come into houses in search of food and water. They love sweets, fat, grease, and meat. If the ant finds food or water, it lays a chemical scent back to the nest so other ants can follow it to the food. This is why you suddenly have a long line of ants in the kitchen. Ants also like dog or cat food, so they can crawl all over that and keep your pets from eating.
Preventing Ants From Getting Inside
- Clean up food spills immediately.
- Put food in ant-proof containers.
- Pick up pet food until it is time for your pet to eat, then pick the food back up when they are through.
- Put pet food in ant-proof containers.
- Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink.
- Put your trash in a can with a tight lid.
- When you put your trash outside, make sure nothing spills out that might feed ants.
- Make sure your window and door screens don’t have any holes and fit tightly.
- Seal cracks in your foundation to prevent ants from getting inside.
Get Professional Help
Since ants are dangerous, it is not a good idea to try to get rid of them on your own. Scorpion Shield can help. We are family-owned and have the experience needed to get rid of ants. Call Scorpion Shield today. We can help!