Ant species come in a wide range of colors (black, brown, red, yellowish and combinations of these), and sizes (1/16 to 1 inch in length). All species of ants have a larger and wider forewing and a smaller hindwing. This characteristic makes it easy to distinguish an ant from other species such as termites (both the front and hind termite wings are even in length).
Ants are social insects and live in colonies which may have as many as 100,000 individuals. They live in colonies in underground tunnels or in galleries in dead wood.
Adults are unable to digest hard, solid food. They ingest only liquids which are sucked from the food material. Young larvae must feed on liquids. Most species and there colony feed on different types of food during the spring to fall seasons. Generally most species collect carbohydrate rich foods in early spring while changing there diet to protein based foods up to and through the cooler fall months.
Complete metamorphosis (egg; larvae; pupa; adult)
1. Eggs are microscopic and are carried about the colony by the workers.
2. Larvae are usually very soft, pear shaped, legless, and off-white.
3. Pupa are naked or are enclosed in a silken tube, depending on the species.
Pupa resemble adults except are white and do not move about or feed.
4. Six to eight weeks to maturity from egg to adult.
Ant colonies normally have three distinct adult members:
a. Workers-sterile females, all vary in size.
b. Queens-generally the largest of a colony. Unmated queens usually retain there wings until mated.
c. Males-they do nothing but mate with the queen. The male dies after mating.
Ants communicate by touch and smell. They lay down chemical trails and constantly touch each other to pass on their nest odor. Ants use there antennae to pick up the sent. When some species bite, they are able to squirt formic acid from the end of their abdomen into the wound — making it even more painful. When ants find food, they lay down a chemical trail, called a pheromone, so that other ants can find their way from the nest to the food source. The scent trail is long lasting and invisible to our sight. Foraging ants pass food by a mouth-to-mouth process called trophallaxis.
Colony eradication provides permanent relief, so it is important to remember that the first priority of an ant management job is to locate the nest or nests and treat them with a baits, granules, or liquid.