Ants live in colonies and have a large social network. Ants are an important part of the ecosystem in their natural environment, as scavengers and predators and they add important nutrients to the soil through recycling. Unfortunately they are not so welcome in gardens and homes across the country and can become problematic. Ant colonies are an active super cell that can grow to an extremely large size in a short amount of time.
An ant colony has its own infrastructure including a queen, the worker ants and the soldier ants. The queen is in control of the colony and lays all of the eggs. The worker ants take care of the eggs as well as the cleaning and maintenance of the nest. They also do all of the foraging for food. It is the job of the soldier ants to protect the colony. Worker ants travel some fairly long distances from the nest when they are foraging. As they travel from the nest they leave chemical secretions along the pathways that they travel. These pheromones are a communication tool and they use it to communicate food sources. Once a food source has been discovered, a large number of worker ants will start to multiply.
Adult ants feed on liquids that are transported to the nest internally in other ants. Once worker ants find a food source, they consume it and return to the nest to regurgitate it. This food is shared or stored and any solid food materials collected by workers are fed to the growing and developing larvae. Every different ant species eats a different type of food. Some eat other insects or feed on meat or fat. Some prefer sweet foods like nectar or fruit and others eat just about anything they can find. When you know what kind of ant infestation you are dealing with, one very efficient way of achieving ant control is to remove a known food source.
In their natural environment many ant species will nest in decayed timber, in the soil and in amongst rocks. Larger nests have interconnecting chambers and tunnels under the surface of the ground. There are also several entrances to the nest which can often be recognized by a distinct mount around the hole. There are certain types of ant species that sting or bite any intruders.
How do you know if you have an ant problem?
Ants leave small signs everywhere that they are present. The most notable signs are the small mounds around their entrance holes. You may also notice small piles of material that is gritty and is found around window frames, trim and doors. This material includes wood fragments, fibres, dust and faecal pellets that are produced by ants.