Compared to other common pests in Florida, ants may seem like small-time bugs, and are nothing to worry about. But ants can do more than just ruin a picnic. They can cause a lot of havoc for Florida business and homeowners.
Ants can damage structures by nesting in wall voids and underneath kitchen sinks, create mounds in lawns and other landscapes, and eat and contaminate human foods. Some ants even bite or sting. These painful inflictions can be dangerous for people with sensitivities.
Common Ant Species in Florida
Some of the species of ants you’re most likely to see in Florida are carpenter, Argentine, crazy, and red imported fire ants.
Carpenter ants are usually black in color and measure around ¼-½ inch in length. You can distinguish a winged carpenter ant from a termite by its larger size. Like termites, carpenter ants can damage buildings by hollowing out wood for nesting. Carpenter ants will create nests in both dry and moist wood, but they prefer moist wood as it’s easier to chew, making wood near water leaks especially vulnerable to nests. These nests are also common in spaces like hollow porch columns or gaps between the wall and the dishwasher.
A trick for locating nests is to use the blunt end of a screwdriver to tap wood surfaces like baseboards. If carpenter ants are in the area, they will respond with a rustling sound that sounds like crinkling cellophane. Shredded fragments of wood are another sign of a carpenter ant invasion.
Argentine ants are wingless, dark brown, and smaller than carpenter ants, ranging from 1⁄16 to 1⁄4 inch in size. But just like carpenter ants, Argentine ants love moist areas which is why they build their colonies in wet areas that are close to a food source. While these ants might seem too small to cause any problems, they excrete an unpleasant smell when crushed and can contaminate food.
It’s not hard to detect an invasion of Argentine ants. They travel in wide trails into trees and buildings.
Crazy ants are dark brown to black in color with a gray sheen and measure 1⁄16 –1⁄8 inch in length. They adapt well to both wet and dry habitats. Once cooler weather or rainfall reduces their primary food source, honeydew, they begin to enter homes in search of new food. There, they often build nests beneath carpeting and floors. Their outdoor nests are more shallow and often found in soil beside building foundations.
Crazy ants get their name from the furious movements they make while traveling. They’re drawn to electric circuits and can break into electronics, short-circuiting them.
Red Imported Fire Ants
No more than 3⁄8 inch long, red imported fire ants might not be Florida’s biggest ant, but they are definitely one of the fiercest. These reddish-brown critters give a painful sting when their nests are disturbed. The resulting raised welt turns into a white pustule. People with allergies to insect stings might have especially severe reactions.
Red imported fire ants create their mounded nests near structural foundations, making it easy for them to access a building through cracks and holes in structures.
Preventing Ant Infestations
Performing routine maintenance will go a long way toward keeping ants out of your home or business:
- Seal any holes around pipes and utility lines.
- Use a caulking gun to fill any holes around window frames.
- Store dog and cat food in sealed containers.
- Make a habit of wiping jars containing jelly, syrup, honey, or other sticky food or condiments.
- Take out the trash frequently, and keep your interior trash in a can with a secure lid.
You don’t have to put up with ant invasions. Let Hometown’s trained professionals kick these pests to the curb. Contact us today to get started.