Ants are six-legged insects belonging to the family Formicidae. To date, scientists have classified approximately 12,500 different types of ants, with an estimated 1,000 species found in the United States. Roughly one-tenth of these species can be found in the state of Pennsylvania. However, in the greater Philadelphia area, most ant problems involve one of five species:
Carpenter ants are black or dark brown in color and 5/8 to one inch in length, making them one of the largest species to be found near human habitations. They also have the potential to inflict the greatest property damage. Contrary to what some people believe, carpenter ants do not eat wood. Instead, they tunnel into wood to establish their colonies, removing wood as necessary to create nesting space. The process can weaken the structure's supports, including supports for the roof, floor or walls. Over time, carpenter ants can cause almost as much structural damage as termites. Although carpenter ants can inflict painful bites, it is the damage they cause that is typically of primary concern to property owners.
Carpenter ants can be extremely difficult to eradicate. They tend to establish a primary colony and then expand to a number of satellite colonies. Therefore, an infested structure could have multiple nests or colonies. These colonies could be located in the wall space or attic insulation as well as inside any wood beam or plank. Eliminating an infestation requires eradicating all colonies, including the primary colony. This usually requires the skills of an experienced pest control technician to locate all of the colonies. Furthermore, the most effective treatments for carpenter ants are not sold to the public and can only be applied by a qualified technician.
As the name implies, pavement ants prefer to live in the cracks around pavement. They can also be found underneath paving stones or infesting the concrete in buildings, such as slab foundations or basement walls. Most pavement ants are approximately one-eighth inch in length, and the predominant color is dark brown. They can be extremely aggressive, and like all ants, they are capable of inflicting a painful bite. The majority of the property damage caused by pavement ants is related to their digging. They remove soil beneath pavement to create their nests, and in the summer, they will remove additional soil to provide ventilation. As a result, the stable foundation required to support pavement or paving stones can be compromised. Pavement can become tilted or sunken, resulting in a surface that is no longer level.
Odorous House Ants
These tiny (1/16 to 1/8 inch) brown or black ants are sometimes called stink ants. When killed, they release a strong scent that has been compared to turpentine, coconut or bleu cheese. These are the most common type of ant found in kitchens as they prefer foods that are high in sugar or grease. When treatment is performed early in the invasion, this species can be eradicated with relative ease. However, the longer treatment is delayed, the more likely it will require additional time to eradicate the pests. It is also important to determine the access points being used to gain entry and seal or treat these areas to prevent repeated infestations.
Pharaoh ants are yellow to reddish-brown in color and average approximately one-eighth inch in length. They are commonly found in nursing homes, hospitals, apartment buildings and restaurants. Pharaoh ants have been linked to the spread of various bacterial diseases, including staph infections. When the colony is threatened, pharaoh ants have the ability to split into a number of "bud" colonies very quickly. Therefore, it is important to engage a qualified professional to locate the colony and destroy it before the ants can scatter and establish additional nests.
Red Imported Fire Ant
Although once confined to southern states, red imported fire ants have proved surprisingly adaptable and have been steadily moving into cooler locations. In 2013, physicians at two different emergency rooms in Northeast Pennsylvania reported cases of children who had been stung by fire ants. Fire ants account for the majority of U.S. deaths resulting from allergic reactions to ant venom. Even if no severe allergic reaction occurs, the bites can be extremely painful to both humans and pets, and because fire ants tend to swarm, a single encounter can result in dozens or even hundreds of stings. Colonies are difficult to destroy, and the best treatments cannot be purchased by the public. Fire ants are typically reddish in color and are seldom more than three-eighths inch in length.
Take Action Today
The longer an ant problem is allowed to continue, the longer it will take to control it. If your building or lawn has been invaded by ants, you should take prompt action and contact a qualified pest control service.
DB Pest Solutions has more than three decades of experience in pest control management. We offer a full range of services to residential, industrial and commercial clients. Contact us today to learn more.
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