Types of Ants in Virginia
Ants are a type of social insect and are commonly found living in and around Virginia homes. Ants live together in large colonies and sometimes have multiple nesting sites; making them a very difficult pest to eliminate. Along with being a nuisance, many species of ants can be destructive and dangerous. Protecting your Virginia home from common invading ants is important for the health and safety of your family, and in some cases for the structure of your home. Common species of ants found living in our area include the carpenter ant, pavement ant, pharaoh ant, odorous house ant, acrobat ant, little black ant, and Argentine ant.
The carpenter ant is known for being a wood-destroying insect and for being one of the largest species of ant to live in the United States. These ants are typically black in color, but depending on the exact species they may also be yellowish, red, or a combination of the three colors. Carpenter ants cause damage to the structures that they are invading, not because they are eating the wood, but rather because they are creating tunnels and nesting galleries inside of it. These tunnels and galleries can eventually affect the wood’s structural integrity.
The pavement ant is a super common home invader and looks like your run of the mill small black ant. However, if you look closely at this ant, you can see some distinguishing features including that their head, body, and thorax are covered in grooved parallel lines and their thorax has a small pair of spines extending from the back of it. Pavement ants are also typically identified by their nesting sites; as their name suggests these ants generally choose to nest in and under the cracks and crevices that are found in pavement and cement.
The pharaoh ant is small species of ant that once was believed to be part of the plagues of ancient Egypt (they weren’t). Pharaoh ants have pale yellow to red colored bodies and abdomens that are almost black in color. These ants commonly invade homes and hospitals.
Odorous House Ants
As you can imagine the odorous house ant is associated with a very unpleasant smell. When the odorous house ant is crushed they emit a foul odor that is likened to the smell of a rotting coconut. These very small, yet very smelly ants range in color from dark brown to black.
The acrobat ant is average in size and most easily identified by its distinct ability to hold their entire abdomen up over the rest of their body; typically doing so when they are being disturbed. In addition to showing off their physical strength, when acrobat ants are disturbed they emit a very unpleasant smelling odor. Adult acrobat ants range in color from light yellowish-brown to black and some are multi-colored; they also have a unique “heart-shaped” abdomen.
Little Black Ants
The little black ant is very small in size and is dark brown to jet black in color. They have a two-segmented waist and when looking at this ant from the side you can see that they appear unevenly rounded.
Argentine ants are many times identified not by their appearance, but by the extremely large size of their colonies. A single colony can have several thousand workers and hundreds of queens living and working together. Argentine Ants are a small ants that are usually either shiny dark brown or shiny black in color.
Are ants dangerous?
Ants while typically thought of as nuisance pests they have the potential to cause many more serious consequences than just being an annoyance. When ants are living and traveling throughout a home they have the potential to spread bacteria and contaminate food sources with diseases that can make people ill. Remember the Pharaoh ant from above? Pharaoh ants are a common household invader, they have the potential to transmit salmonella and streptococcus, and have been found inside of hospitals where they can even invade and contaminate patient IV’s and wounds. In addition to causing health concerns for people and contaminating food sources, there are ants that can cause structural damages to homes. The carpenter ant is a wood-destroying insect that invades a home’s structural wood in order to create tunnels and nesting galleries. If left to their own devices and not completely eliminated, the damage that carpenter ants can cause to a home can become quite extensive and costly to repair.
Why do I have an ant problem?
Like most other types of insects and pests, ants are attracted to properties that offer them the things that they need to survive- food, water, and shelter. Things that initially attract ants to a property often include open trash cans, garden areas, compost piles, pet food, and areas of excess moisture. Once on your property, the foraging ants will eventually make their way into your home through cracks and crevices found in the foundation and exterior walls, through spaces found around windows and doors, and by traveling along pipes and wires that are entering into your home. Once inside they will happily feed on any spills, crumbs and other morsels of food that they come across, sip water from leaky faucets and pipes, and even create satellite nests behind your home’s walls or underneath of its floors.
How do I get rid of ants?
While ants tend to look pretty similar, each species has their own unique wants, needs, and likes; knowing the exact species that has entered into your home can help to ensure the infestation is completely eliminated. At RichPro Pest Management, Inc. our professionals can provide you with the accurate identification and treatment services needed to completely eliminate an ant infestation from your home and property. Our professionals understand ants and how to get rid of them, protecting your family and property from their potential dangers. To learn more about controlling and eliminating ants through our Home Defender™ Pest Control services, contact us today at RichPro Pest Management.
How do I prevent ants?
The pros at RichPro Pest Management suggest the following interior and exterior prevention tips to help keep ants off of your property, out of your home, and away from your family.
Outside of your home, it is very helpful to make sure that trash cans are being stored up off of the ground, away from the exterior of your home, and that they are equipped with locking lids. To give ants fewer places to hide around your property it is a good idea to remove piles of organic debris that have built up, to trim back overgrown bushes and trees away from the exterior of your home, and place woodpiles up off of the ground and away from your home. Garden areas and compost piles should also be placed a good distance away from the outside of your home. Inspect the exterior of your home and its foundation, sealing any cracks and crevices that are found, making sure that weather stripping is placed around all windows and doors, sealing gaps around utilities that are entering into your home, and inspecting screens found in windows and doors to make sure that they are intact.
Things that you can do inside of your home to prevent problems with ants include storing all food either inside of the refrigerator or in glass or plastic air-tight containers. Store pet food in air-tight containers, routinely vacuum your home’s floors, wash dishes daily, remove trash from your home daily, and quickly clean up crumbs and spills. To deter moisture seeking ants like carpenter ants it is a good idea to install de-humidifiers to reduce moisture levels in your home and to remove any wood from your home that has been damaged by water.
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