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Unseen Things: Ants

One day your break room is clean and spotless. The next day you walk in and see thousands of ants everywhere they weren’t yesterday. What happened? Did they appear out of nowhere? Not likely. You are observing the effect of the scout ants which often go unseen.

Unseen Scouts

Ant colonies may seem simple on the surface, but they have plenty of complexity built into their society. Some ants even have organized “burial” sites for disposing of their dead. Each colony is going to have the slacker ants who don’t contribute their fair share. The part you are most affected by is the scout ant. These ants go out in search for food or other resources the colony needs. When they find what they need, they send out signals through pheromone trails and trophallaxis to recruit the rest of the troops to gather what they can while the getting is good.

Unexpected bites – Structures

Most people think of ants seeking out the sugar dish, but some ants like to take a bite out of your structure. This may be a wall that collects moisture during certain parts of the year or simply the railing on your deck or patio. Ants do not consume the wood like termites, but the tough jawed carpenter ant will rip out chunks of softened wood. Initially this damage is simply cosmetic, but as galleries expand, structural integrity can be compromised.

Plant Munchers

Some ants like leaf cutter ants and harvester ants may take bites out of the plants on your property. Harvester ants are well known for hauling away seeds as well as clearing all vegetation from around their nests. Leaf cutting ants chew off large chunks of leaves.

Surprise Bites of Flesh

When it comes to physical pain inflicted by ants, the most salient causes are the stings of fire ants or bullet ants. In addition to ants that can sting or release noxious fumes, most ants have the ability to simply bite into a chunk of flesh if forced into that situation. Two entertaining stories from Rove’s Associate Entomologist involve unfortunate ant bites.

The first happened as a child when he had been playing in a sandbox that some ants thought was a great place to hang out as well. One ant found its way down his pants. As he moved around, he struck fear into the poor ant which was lost in some soft skin folds. This ant naturally defended itself with a hardy bite. The child’s reaction to the bite was to swat at it causing even more pain as he smacked himself in the crotch. The child’s refrain about ants in your pants making you do the boogey dance has had special meaning for him since.

The second occurred in a multi-pitch climb in Mazama. During a belay break, a large carpenter ant crawled into his climbing shoe. When it was his turn to climb, he stuffed his foot into his shoe severely threatening the poor ant. The ant spitefully waited until he had started up the cliff face to try and chew his way out of the compressed space biting into his toe. It was a long climb to the next belay station where he could release the ant from the shoe in exchange for the ant releasing his toe from her mandibles.

Figuratively, Ants Bite

Regardless of whether ants bit your deck, your plants, your food, or your person, having ants bites. They have their place in nature, but this is not where it interferes with the flow of your life. Just like ants send out their scouts, keep the Rove Pest Control Ant Scouts on your team to keep you ahead of the ants and the ants out of your life. Set up your Rove Ant Alliance today!


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