Just as you know you are going to see tourists swarming Hole in the Rock and other popular rock formations around Phoenix, you can count on ants swarming sweets in and around your home. Although the desert is inhospitable to many animal species, ants thrive in the sans of the greater Phoenix metro area.
Each species poses a different threat to structures, landscapes, and some to human health. Understanding their biology, where they come from, where they nest, and where they go is key to keeping them in their place and in non-threatening numbers.
Basic Colony Setup
Ants are social insects that work together to achieve complex hunting, gathering, food storing, and brood rearing. Some ant species have just one queen per colony, but others may have 10’s or 100’s of queens. Colony populations also vary in ranges from thousands to hundreds of thousands depending on species. Workers carry out the tasks of hunting and/or gathering and defending the colony. Adults feed larvae by regurgitating liquid food that is gathered.
Local Ant Celebrities
- Honey Pot Ants – these ants have specialized adult workers called repletes which swell up into spheres of honey storage to sustain the colony during the lean seasons. The flavor of the stored honey stays true to the taste of whatever the ants were foraging.
- Desert Fire Ants – the bad news is these pack a powerful sting if you cross them. The good news is the AZ department of Agriculture is winning the battle of keeping the red imported fire ant out of the state.
- Slave Maker Ants – other species of ants are on the defense against this cunning Arizona ant species. If a newly mated queen makes it past the defenses of another ant species, she kills their queen, rubs her scent on her, and tricks the colony into raising her brood. When her eggs reach maturity, they head off and raid other colonies of their eggs to keep supplying their queen with new batches of slaves.
- Army Ants – similar to the offspring slave maker ants, Army ants raid other colonies. Instead of bringing back eggs to raise as slaves, army ants are out to eat the other ants. Nearly blind, they rely on raiding column formations consuming whatever insects end up in their path. They don’t have a permanent home, but live like traveling hikers and climbers that frequent the rock formations around Phoenix.
- Carpenter Ants – as their name suggests, they are master wood workers that excavate moist, softened, or rotted wood to create their living galleries. They do not consume the wood as termites do, but they are quick to find and take advantage of wood that has been softened by moisture or other rot.
- Pharaoh Ants – these pale menaces are notorious for scattering into small pods in wall voids. Tracking and controlling these ants becomes quite difficult. Their lack of trailing and continuity from one group to the next makes baiting an essential element of Pharaol ant control in Phoenix homes and apartments.
- Pavement Ants – these thrive in the typical landscape surrounding Phoenix structures. Expect to find them underneath pavers, coming out between pavement blocks, and seeking sweet liquids to consume.
- Harvester Ants – Appropriately named, these ants aren’t likely to be joining you inside your home, but can be a threat to vegetable and flower gardens.
- Odorous House Ants – These ants have an off-putting smell of rotten coconut when crushed. In addition to their nasal threat, they are pros at pointing out missed spills, crumbs, etc. inside of your home. If there is even traces of food hanging out down in the seams of your home, they will show you the way to it quickly.
- Argentine Ants – while many ants are seen trailing, the Argentine ant is best known for its neat trails. They will nest in a variety of situations such as soil, logs, shrubs, mulch, trees, etc.
Ant control can be complex, but is always simplified by starting earlier rather than later. The components of successful Phoenix ant control include:
- Monitoring & early detection
- Bait control measures
- Liquid barriers
- Dust applications
Ants are quick to pick up on the presence of most chemicals. The wrong choice can lead to ant colonies subdividing in a process called budding. In other situations, the ants will simply be able to avoid the chemical molecules and set their path in the safe zone. Proper selection of baits and other control products leads to quicker control at greater levels of success.
Whether you are dealing with ants in your yard, home, business, or just want to avoid having to worry about them, call our Phoenix ant experts at 602-962-2345.