TampaPest Control – Super Colony Ants: Argentine & White-Footed Ants
These ants have become a major household pest in TampaBay. This fact sheet provides information on the habits of these pests. We also describe ways to reduce the Super Colony Ant problems in your home or building.
How Does It Spread From Place To Place?
Like many other pests, ants have been spread worldwide by human activities such as travel and the shipment of cargo and other materials. In Florida, transportation of infested home landscape plants and materials appears to be the most common way it is spreading.
Are Super Colony Ants Harmful?
No, these ants don’t bite or sting nor do they cause damage to structures. However, these ants are a major pest because they have huge colonies and are impossible to get rid of. Large numbers of these ants are mostly found outside of buildings. Researchers estimate there can be eight thousand to three million ants in a colony.
Why Do They Sometimes Go Inside Buildings?
Since they have such big colonies and many young to feed, large numbers of ant workers leave the nest to search for food. The inside of a home or business is a great place to find nest sites and food.
What Do These Ants Look Like?
The white-footed ant is a 1/10 to 1/8 inch long, black to brownish-black ant. It is called the white-footed ant because the “foot” is yellowish-white. The white-footed ant does not have a stinger. The white-footed ant looks a lot like the Argentine ant but the argentine ant lacks the whitish feet.
Super Colony Ant Life Cycle
These ant colonies can become quite large. Winged males and winged females emerge every year from the colony. They mate while flying and once on the ground females start a new nest. The new queen lays eggs that hatch into larvae. The larvae grow and become pupae. As pupae, final development occurs to produce the adult ants. In ant colonies the eggs, larvae, and pupae are known as the brood. The new queen takes care of the brood and colony and over time the number of ants in the colony increases. Eventually, the workers replace the wingless queen. The worker also can form more colonies by budding. In this process, they leave the old colony with some of their nestmates and brood to create a new nest.
What Do They Eat?
These ants are often found foraging along branches and trunks of trees and shrubs. They feed on plant nectars and honeydew, a sweet substance produced by insects such as aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects. Ants are known to protect honeydew-producing insects from attack by other insects. Also, the argentine ant and white-footed ants are strongly attracted to sweet foods. They also eat dead insects and other types of protein.
Nestmates are brought to food sources by foragers who lay chemical trails.. In and on structures, foragers tend to follow lines such as an edge of an outside wall panel. Frequently, they find their way inside wall voids where they follow electrical cables and emerge into various rooms, especially kitchens and bathrooms. In these places the ants find liquid and solid foods resulting in heavy trailing activity.
Where Do They Nest?
Nest are at or above ground level. They do not nest in soil. A single colony may have nests in many locations. It is almost impossible to tell one colony from another because different colonies will be connected to each other. These ants prefer nest sites that are near moisture and food sources, and protected from predators and extreme heat. Nests tend to be found outside of structures more than inside.
Outdoor nests are often found
• in tree holes or on the underside of leaves
• on bushes
• under palm fronds and old leaf boots
• in loose mulch
• under debris such as newspaper, fallen coconuts, scrap wood, etc.
• in leaf-litter on the ground and in rain gutters.
How Is Treatment Provided?
These ants are impossible to control because they have such large colonies. An integrated approach using the following practices will provide the best results in reducing there numbers. Be aware that in most cases the colonies will not be eliminated. Instead, they will be brought to a manageable level to minimize there presence indoors. As of today, no control exists.
To aid in the suppression of the super ant colony, baits should be placed for these sweet-feeding ants to eat and bring back to their nests. Additionally, liquid applications should be provided as well to aid in the reduction of these pests. Whenever baits are used, there will be more ants availing themselves as they trail to and from the bait. Also, once a liquid application has been used, there may be an influx of the ants inside as they move from the treated area.
What Is My Responsibility?
1) Trim trees and shrubs next to the structure to prevent ants from “bridging” (crawling from the vegetation onto the structure). It is best not to have any plants touching outside walls.
2) Be sure to trim back from structures any overhanging branches of large trees.
3) Keep gutters clean and functioning properly.
4) Remove debris from yard such as fire wood, flower pots, etc.
5) Please adhere to maintenance requests by our service technician to reduce harborage areas and competing food sources.
6) Have the shrubs treated routinely by a professional lawn company to reduce plant pests that feed these ants
7) Remember that control outside will not be obtain. Instead the ants will be brought to a manageable level to reduce their likelihood of entering the structure.