Ants belong to the family Formicidae, which forms part of the order Hymenoptera. This order of insects also includes bees and wasps.
Ants are ubiquitous. In fact around 15 000 species and subspecies of ants have been described world wide, with just over 1 300 known from Australia so far. Most Australians are familiar with ants be they:
Are they pests?
Some ants, such as bull dog or bull ants, are troublesome because they give painful stings, while the venom of jack-jumper or jumper ants can cause severe allergic reactions. Unlike bees that can only sting once, ants can sting multiple times.
Others, such as meat ants and green tree ants, don’t sting but bite and then spray formic acid into the wound.
Some ants are nuisance pests when they make mounds, disturb paving or invade buildings.
Some introduced species are both nuisance and environmental pests, including:
- Argentine ant (Linepithema humile)
- red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta)
- crazy ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes)
- electric ant (Wasmannia auropunctatata)
- big headed ant or coastal brown ant (Pheidole megacephala).
It is important to remember that native ant species play an important part in natural food webs.
Which four main four species of ants invade our homes and our outdoor living areas?
- Brown Ants which invade kitchen and bathroom areas and are usually found in pantries.
- Black Ants which are often found scavenging inside homes, mainly in kitchen areas, and are attracted usually to sweet foods.
- Coastal Brown Ants are a species that nests within buildings and garden areas and are a major pest species throughout Melbourne suburban areas.
- Argentine Ants are a small brown ant that is an invasive and usually nest and invade homes and buildings in cooler months.
- Effective ants control relies on knowing their foraging and nesting habits.
Effective control of ants lies on knowledge of their foraging and nesting habits, cleaning and
keeping areas free of food scraps will help deter infestations.
- Keep cupboards and counter tops free of crumbs and food matter.
- Wipe clean and dry jars before storing.
- Keep opened food stuffs in sealed containers.
- Place open food in the refrigerator.
- Dirty crockery, cutlery and cooking utensils should be washed and stored away as soon as
possible after use.
- Garbage should be placed in bins with close-sealing lids.
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