As a homeowner in Florida, you realize that you share your property with a number of ant species. Ranging from the ghost ant to the carpenter ant to the red fire ant, there are more than 50 ant species living in the Sunshine State. Our subtropical climate provides a home to 65 exotic species as well, the largest exotic ant fauna, or wildlife, in the country.
Included in that list of species are many different types of tiny ants, with a list that includes the pharaoh ant, sugar ant, black ant, and, most recently, the little yellow ant. While their size might make them seem harmless, some tiny ant species can cause notable damage or even leave us with painful bites.
If you’re curious to learn more about a few species of tiny ants in Florida, including what attracts them and what impact it can have, keep reading—this blog post is for you.
While other species, like the black ant or carpenter ant, have been known to live in Florida for quite some time now, the yellow ant is a new, unwelcome neighbor for most Floridians. According to researchers at the University of Florida, this species of ant arrived in Florida just before the winter season in 2017. Native to Madagascar, these small, yellow ants had never been seen in the U.S., outside of Hawaii. The researchers believe Hurricane Irma could have been a factor in bringing the species from the Caribbean or South America.
The yellow ant is incredibly small in size, measuring just 1/16th of an inch. Its natural foods include flower nectar and honeydew discharged by sap-sucking insects.
The yellow ant doesn’t bite or sting, but it is difficult to control. Their incredibly small size enables the species to grow, colonize and spread without being noticed. As such, once spotted, it’s likely your home is already infested with the tiny yellow ants. Another factor to note is this ant’s potential to negatively impact the state’s agriculture. While the researchers at the University of Florida are still unsure the extent of the damage the ants can cause, they do know the ant is associated with aphids, mealy bugs and scale insects, which can all potentially harm crops and ornamental plants. These ants don’t necessarily eat the plants, though. Instead, they protect the insects that do.
Yellow ants are typically found in areas of high moisture. That means that in your home they can typically be found living in wood. Outside nests are usually situated in soil next to structures, along foundation walls or under rotting wooden logs. So, if you do find yourself with a yellow ant infestation, there’s likely a moisture problem in your home, too. If inside, you can remove yellow ants with a vacuum cleaner. If outdoors, however, you’ll want to focus on locating the ants’ nest to address your yellow ant population.
Ghost Ants In Florida
Measuring just 1/8 inch long, the ghost ant is part of a larger group of ants known as tramp ants, which are widely distributed in tropical and subtropical latitudes worldwide. In Florida, though, they are mostly found from Sarasota to Orlando and southward. Though the ghost ant prefers tropical climates, this type of ant is highly adaptable in its nesting habits, able to make a home both indoors and out. Indoors, the ant species colonizes wall voids or spaces between cabinets and baseboards; ghost ants can also be found nesting in potted plants. Outside, however, these ants tend to colonize moist grass, plant stems and cavities in open, rapidly changing habitats.
Despite its ability to nest outdoors, the ghost ant is still considered a household pest because it has been found to feed upon many household foods, especially sweets. These ants have been observed feeding on sugar, cakes and syrups, too. If outdoors, worker ants scour for dead insects and tend sap-sucking insects, collecting honeydew.
Once in your home, the ghost ant is easily recognized and typically found in kitchens and bathrooms, and on sinks, counters and floors. Your best bet to control ghost ants already in your home is to maintain a clean home. Store foods in tight containers, ensure countertops are clear of any food particles and reduce moisture sources, like leaks or excess condensation around fridges, for example.
Pharaoh Ants In Florida
Dubbed one of the most difficult household ants to control, the Pharaoh ant is distributed worldwide, but its origins are traced back to Africa. While the Pharaoh ant does not nest outdoors, except in southern latitudes, it has successfully adapted to conditions in southern Florida.
The Pharaoh ant ranges in size, but typically measures around 1/16 inch in length. The antenna of this species of ant has 12 segments of the 3-segmented antennal clubs, which increase in size toward the apex of the club. This species’ body color ranges from yellow to light brown.
As we mentioned above, the Pharaoh ant is considered a major indoor pest in the United States. This species is able to survive most household pest control treatments and is known to occupy large parts of a building, especially where food is handled. In fact, the pharaoh ant enjoys a wide variety of food types, including sweet, fatty or oily foods, which is one reason this type of ant is considered such a problem. As a result, many homeowners are forced to discard foods that have been contaminated by the ant workers. Despite their appetite for destruction, the Pharaoh ant can also inhabit areas where food is not typically found, such as in between sheets of stationery, in bed linens and clothes, in appliances and sometimes in trash.
Because of the ant’s ability to nest in often unseen or inaccessible areas, Pharaoh ants are hard to control once an infestation is detected. To treat a Pharaoh ant infestation, treatment solutions must be applied to every possible nesting area, including walls, ceilings, floor voids and electrical wall outlets.
If using pest control solutions to eliminate your Pharaoh ant population, be sure to locate baits property to ensure their effectiveness. Place the bait in corners and along edges of door moldings or baseboards, as Pharaoh ants tend to be more concentrated in these areas. Furthermore, opt for non-repellent baits opposed to repellent baits, as the latter can worsen the infestation by causing the colony to split into two or more new colonies. This splitting and reforming of new colonies is referred to as budding. Other options include an insect growth regulator, or IGR. Used as bait, the IGR prevents the production of worker ants and sterilizes the queen.
How To Get Rid Of Ants
No matter the species, an ant’s motivation for entering your home is similar: to find food. Shelter and protection from other predators are other motivating factors, too. Once they make a home in yours, it’s highly unlikely they’ll decide to leave on their own accord. Luckily, there are a few techniques you can use to help rid ants from your home.
The first plan of action is to identify the ant species. Then, you’ll want to find where the colony is nesting. Pinpointing the location of the nest will lead you to the queen. Removing the queen will result in a halt in ant reproduction. One way you can find the colony is to follow the trail created by the ants that enter and leave your home. In leaving your home, worker ants leave a scent trail for other worker ants to follow and gather food. Instead of spraying the worker ants seen on the trail, though, use them to your advantage. Place bait stations along the trail the ants have created, prompting the worker ants to carry the bait back to the nest to feed the queen, eventually killing her.
Before removing the trail of ants, you’ll also want to watch if it leads you outdoors. Often, another colony is nesting there as well. If the trail does lead you to a belowground nest, use approved insecticide spray to eliminate the entire nest.
How To Keep Ants Out
Like we’ve mentioned before, ants enter your home in search of food, water and protection, sneaking in through cracks and crevices in the walls and around windows and doors. To help keep ants out, be sure to seal all spaces around windows and doors, and all cable, pipe and wire entry points, too.
Inside, be sure to keep your home clean to prevent attracting ants. After meals, wipe down countertops to ensure no crumbs are left behind and keep packaged foods sealed or in airtight containers. Also, take the time to sweep your floors for any fallen crumbs as well.
ABC Can Solve Your Ant Problems
While there are many at-home remedies you can use to rid your home of an ant infestation, some species are hard to fully eliminate. Our team at ABC Home & Commercial Services understands the headache that an ant infestation can cause. We have the tools and knowledge needed to develop a customized plan to address the different ant species living on your property and to devise effective methods to handle your ant problem—for good.