Foraging worker ants cause a nuisance as they travel widely in search of food, following well-defined trails and clustering around the food source. They are attracted to sweet or fatty substances in kitchens, pantries, storerooms and warehouses. In hospitals they have been found feeding on septic dressings, soiled linen and excrement.
They are obviously an unpleasant sight in food areas and may damage or taint food intended for human consumption.
Ants are the most prolific and successful group of insects. Their nests can be found almost anywhere, in lawns, under stones or wood, in decaying trees, under buildings, in cavity wall and roof voids. Anywhere that affords them protection.
Ants are quite common in Australia and there are many species all with different habits and feeding preferences. You cannot live in Australia without having some sort of contact with one ant species or another. Some of the most common ones are:
Bull ants are large and they have a nasty sting, they use their large straight jaws to deliver the bite. Many species of bull ants have bright red or orange colours on the head or abdomen. There are about 90 species of bull ants in Australia with diverse behaviours and life cycles. Nine bull ant species have been recorded in Sydney, Some of the smaller species are known as jumper ants after their habit of aggressively jumping toward intruders.
They are found throughout Australia and range from 8-10mm in length. They will feed on animal prey and will also feed on plant material and nectar.
When their nest is under attack large aggressive ants will stream out of the nest which prompts a hasty retreat, they deliver a painful bite and will often bite multiple times.
Most species have no colony workers; instead the raiding queen will raid the nest of another species and kill the opposing queen. She will then take over the colony.
BLACK HOUSE ANTS
Black Ants are small and black, usually no more than 3 or 4mm. The males have wings. Females have wings until after mating, when she becomes the reproductive queen ant. Worker ants are sterile and their role is to maintain the nest, gather food and feed the larvae. Soldiers are also from the worker caste. Black Ants can be a pest around homes, especially when they get into the kitchen. They make long trails from the nest to food sources and can come in to the house under doors, or through cracks round windows. When they are nesting in the house they can sometimes be detected by the mess of black droppings (frass) on floors or window sills.
They generally eat sweet foods but will also eat plant materials, The queen black ant will lay small oval eggs which can be often seen being carried to higher ground during wetter periods. The larvae are then fed by the adults once they have hatched until they pupate.
Carpenter ants are quite large they range from 6-12mm in size. They prefer to nest in dead wood or damp wood although it must be noted they don’t eat it. They vary in colour, anywhere from orange brown to a dark black. They often enter buildings to nest creating smooth tunnels through excavation of any damaged or moist timber in wall cavities.
Carpenter ants have multiple queens and will often have ‘satellite’ nests in other areas nearby. Each nest could be as large as 100,000 workers and will take some years to reach full maturity. The workers will travel large distances for food. They eat anything sweet, but will also eat plant materials as well.
Coastal Brown Ant
Coastal brown ants have the ability to build massive colonies in an incredibly short amount of time. This has given them a reputation for being fast spreading invaders, capable of taking over homes before the occupants or owners even know what’s going on. They are, however, only really considered a nuisance, since their sting isn’t painful to humans.
Also known as big-headed ants due to their large cranium, coastal browns have a comparatively small body that can grow up to 2.5mm in size. Goldish brown in colour, they nest in dry soil and construct paths through gardens and on walls. Dirt mounds are a tell-tale sign that a coastal brown ant colony has been excavating nearby. If left untreated, there’s a chance they’ll invade and attack any food including meat, fruit, sugary sweets and greasy good that’s been left unattended.
In more bad news for homes, coastal brown ants hatch in 21 to 28 days, while the queen can lay almost 300 eggs in a one-month period and live 3-4 years. If you notice what you believe is a coastal brown ant infestation on your property, it’s imperative you act quickly before it gets out of hand.
Argentine Ants are an introduced species originally from the South American countries of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil. They are known to displace native Australian ants by expanding their colonies and then wiping out any local ant species. Argentine ant workers are light to dark brown in colour and around 2.5mm long, while the queens are slightly bigger than workers at roughly 4-6mm long. A distinctive odour is emitted from Argentine ants when they are squashed but they do not sting or bite.
The most common sign that you have an Argentine ant infestation is a trail of ants travelling up trees and buildings and into your home. These trails should be pretty obvious, given that they’re both wide and active during both the day and night. Tracing this trail back to the nest, however, can be more difficult since worker ants will follow food trails over long distances.
Due to the pervasiveness of Argentine ants, it’s recommended that you contact us immediately if you suspect your home is under attack. We can then inspect your property to determine the severity of your problem and come up with the best solution to eradicate your Argentine ant infestation.
A native Australian species, garden ants have no stinger but can form colonies up to 40,000 workers strong. In addition, some garden ants have been known to live for decades. Workers are 4-5mm long, queens are 15mm long and all garden ants are dark brown and black in colour with an overall appearance that resembles the Argentine ant.
Garden ants can cause damage when building their colonies, displacing pavers, digging up gardens and ruining turfed areas in the process. These colonies will most likely be located in sandy soil or around a structure’s foundations. As they are omnivores, they’ll eat protein for sustenance and sugar for the moisture component. They’re also known to roam indoors when looking for a water source, which can lead to them causing havoc in bathrooms and kitchens.
In regard to their queens, they’ll build a new nest almost immediately after mating and lay eggs in late spring. These eggs then take around 8 to 10 weeks to hatch. After a further 5 weeks these larvae will transform into adults and become sterile female workers.