Ants

The two species of ants that are common in the UK are the Garden Ant and the Pharoah's Ant. Garden ants are a nuisance but Pharoah's ants carry harmful germs and can be difficult to eradicate. We can treat ant infestations with a pesticide.
 
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Ants

Types of Ants

Description

Family: Formicidae Scientific Name: Linepithema humile Special characteristics:

Invasive species favouring warm climates or heated environments. Not frost hardy. Description Family: Formicidae Scientific Name: Linepithema humile.


Habitat

Prefer a sweet food source such as honeydew, but will also forage on proteins such as meat, insects, eggs and fat.


Biology and Behaviour

Argentine Ants are typically brown/light brown, with an uneven thorax, 12-segmented antennae, no stinger, the workers are 3-3.5mm long. In a single colony there may be multiple queens (polygenic), and the workers interact between nests, which enables them to form ‘super colonies’. The queens can be replaced so colonies survive indefinitely. New colonies may be encouraged by disturbing the nests.

Description Family: Formicaide Scientific Name: Lasius niger Special characteristics:

Nests outdoors and enters houses regularly in search of food, preferably sweet foods.


Habitat An active insect, it nests outside in grass and walls and under paving. It will forage widely in search of food, which is how it comes to enter domestic premises.


Biology and Behaviour

Workers dark brown-black, queens mid brown. Workers 3-5mm long, queens (characterised by 2 pairs of membranous wings, fore and hind wings hooked together) 15mm long. Individual ants are responsible for specialised duties within their community.

The worker ants (sterile females) build the nest, look after larvae, and forage for food. The queens (fertile females) remain mainly in the nest, mating with fertile males. Swarms involve large numbers of ants but only tend to persist for 2-3 hours. The males die after mating, but the females shed their wings and burrow in the ground where they overwinter.


Description Family: Formicidae Scientific Name: Tapinoma melanocephalum Special characteristics:

Invasive species which tend to prefer warmer wet habitats, and forage on all kinds of nutrients but favours sweet food.


Habitat

Indoor ghost ants nest in Europe and prefer warmer habitats due to their high moisture needs, and often trails can lead to sinks, baths, toilets and showers. The nests are often located within wall voids, behind skirting boards, or in potted plant soil. Workers run rapidly and erratically, trailing along edges and corners.

Biology and Behaviour

Very small ants, the workers are 2mm long, with a pale abdomen hence the name. Ghost ants have polygyne colonies (multiple queens in a single colony) with individual nests containing between 100-1000 workers. One colony may consist of several nests which readily exchange workers.

Description Family: Formicidae Scientific Name: Monomorium Pharaonis Special characteristics:

Widely distributed, and their need for warm humid conditions means that in temperate lands they are confined to buildings. They forage on meat, cheese, fat, sugar, honey, jam etc. In hospital they will feed on blood, intravenous diet fluids. Dead insects, mice and droppings can also provide a food source.


Habitat

Infestations can be found in a wide variety of locations including residential blocks, hotels, hospitals, zoos and on board ships. In warmer climates infestations can be found outside. The insects are located in the fabric of buildings (wall voids, windows etc.), plants and sterile supplies. Infestations may be spread by way of service ducts (e.g. heating and electrical conduits). The ants forage for water around sinks and areas of condensation.


Biology and Behaviour

Workers 1.5-2mm long, yellow-brown with well-developed black eyes. Males 3mm long, black and winged. Queens 3.6-5mm long, dark red and winged. Winged Pharaoh ants do not fly. The queens can be replaced so colonies survive indefinitely. New colonies may be encouraged by disturbing the nests. These social insects live in colonies from a few dozen to 300,000 ants.

The ants can survive low temperatures for prolonged periods where the works continue to forage for food. Materials may be damaged by chewing and the ants may bite children. Can penetrate plastic bags containing sterile dressings/instruments. Pharaoh ants pose a risk to health as pathogenic organisms may be transmitted as the ants feed in unhygienic places including drains, bins and wound dressings.

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