Ants are one of the most prevalent insects on the planet, outnumbering all other individual animals combined. Ants live in underground colonies (formacaries) and are extremely social, working in teams to forage for food to feed the colony queen and her immature offspring. Many species create single nests with one or more queens. Other species create multiple nests connected by underground passages. “Supercolonies” of millions of nests and billions of ants have been discovered in Japan, southern Europe and Australia.
Florida is home to billions of ants, nests of which occur in all areas of the state. Ant colonies bring environmental benefits to their neighborhoods. Their colonies are a puzzle of underground tunnels and voids that allow air and water to infiltrate beneath the soil surface. The vegetation brought into the nest for food decomposes into plant nutrients. Ants prey on insects that invade lawn and plant systems, and their activities above and below ground can assist with pollination and seed distribution.
However, ants can also threaten human health and homes. In Florida, two particular species are of special interest because of their potential for destruction:
The Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) is the most aggressive ant in the United States. Their workers ‘boil’ to the surface when their nest is disturbed and attack the nearest source of protein, including human tissue. Their bites cause pain, swelling and, in sufficient volume, even death.
Carpenter ants are the largest of all ants. They dine on sugars and protein, so they are attracted to areas where those substances are found. Despite their name, carpenter ants don’t actually eat wood; instead they tunnel through moist and decayed wood inside buildings. They have been found in insulation, doors, wall voids and curtain rods.
The best protection against any ant invasion is avoidance. A superior pest control service will search the exterior of any building to find and identify possible ant infestation. Using proper pesticides for the species will guarantee an abatement of interior ant problems, with the main goal to keep these invaders out of the home altogether.