Ants

Species category: Ant
Scientific Name: Paratrechina longicornis

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Description

A small ant species with an intensely-black colour. It has a prominent petiole which distinguishes it from the white-footed ant. This ant measures 2.5mm and is slightly smaller and stockier than the white-footed variety.

An Australasian native, they are found in rural and urban areas and are very prevalent in India.

They are often a pest of domestic environments and will build their nest in cracks or gaps, beside pathways. They generally enter the home in search of food.

Like other ant species, they will nest underground and also in voids, for e.g. roof voids or wall cavities.

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Behaviour

They have a preference for sugary liquids and will tend to aphids and other bugs on domestic plants in order to feed off their sweet secretions. However, this species also feed on seeds and plants so it can be a pest in stored food facilities.

They navigate away from and to the nest in trails. Follow the trail to find the nest. They will also swarm during the nuptial flight, which can be distressing for a building’s inhabitants.

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Risk

This ant is considered more of a nuisance than a very destructive pest. It can encourage aphid growth which leads to extensive plant damage.

It’s also an expert at creating nests in difficult to spot cracks and crevices, making colony elimination a tricky task. There can be more than one queen in the colony and reproduction is fast.

The Black Ant causes primary damage to foods. It also contaminates areas with faeces and when it disposes of ‘rubbish’ from the nest – this is typically body parts of dead colony members.

Species category: Ant
Scientific Name: Solenopsis geminata
Family: Formicidae
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Description

The Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) has a copper brown head and darker, reddish-brown body. The average worker ant reaches 2-6mm in length and it has strong mandibles with 4-5 distinct teeth. It has a distinguishing 2-part pedicel and its body is covered in numerous erect hairs.

A native of South America, the RIFA is also found in India and pose a threat to the environment.

Typically, they build their nest underground in mounds. The mounds are found in lawns or disrupting turf and have no obvious opening at the top. The RIFA is often discovered when someone inadvertently steps on a mound and they launch an attack.

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Behaviour

Often congregating in massive colonies, this pest is small but incredibly aggressive and considered one of the most hostile of all ant species. Under threat of attack, they will launch a coordinated attack on their victim.

Colonies can have single or multiple queens and they can reproduce at a very fast rate. Their diet is generally organic matter but they will also invade the home looking for sweet products or other protein-rich foods.

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Risk

Most feared for the painful attack launched when threatened, the RIFA has a persistent sting that leaves a white pustule. Even though they bite, it’s the venom of the sting that causes the residual pain and pustule.

Under attack, they emit pheromones which prompt other members of the colony to launch a synchronized attack. A multiple attack is incredibly painful and some victims can suffer an allergic reaction.

The mounds can also be a nuisance, disrupting root growth and disturbing plant formation which can result in lower yield crops and patchy turf growth.

Species category: Ant
Scientific Name: Tapinoma melanocephalum
Family: Formicidae
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Description

Very small ants, the workers are 2mm long and have a pale, almost translucent abdomen and legs, hence the name. The head and thorax are a deep brown colour. The almost transparent body makes these tiny ants look even smaller again.

Found all across the world, they are one of the most widely distributed ant species.

Ghost Ants tend to prefer warmer, wet habitats. Colonies are generally located outside but there are also colonies that set up home inside. Indoor Ghost Ants select their habitats based on their preference for warmth and high moisture requirements. Their trails often lead to sinks, baths, toilets and showers.

The nests are frequently located within wall voids, behind skirting boards, or in potted plant soil. Workers run rapidly and erratically, trailing along edges and corners.

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Behaviour

It’s an invasive species that forages for all kinds of nutrients and will live on grease and other insects but favours sweet foods. Ghost ants have polygene 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.
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Risk

This ant’s love of sugary substances attracts them to the sweet secretions of aphids, which they protect and in doing so, allow the aphids to continue to destroy the plants they inhabit.

Indoors, they contaminate household foods by attacking any sugary items such as cakes, chocolate, sugar etc…

Species category: Ant
Scientific Name: Iridomyrmex spp.
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Description

Black in colour, this ant species produces a distinctive and pungent odour when crushed. Typically, an adult will reach 4mm in length. They have compound eyes placed relatively high on the head away from the mandible.

They are sometimes confused with the Argentine ants but differ in colour and odour when crushed.

A native Australian species, they are now widely distributed across all states.

They can build their nests outside under stones but can also be found in wall cavities, they often only come indoors in search of a water source.

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Behaviour

Typically omnivores, they can eat proteins and will occasionally eat sugars from natural sources, particularly for the moisture component. This species can be aggressive and are excellent scavengers.
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Risk

More of a nuisance than a pest, they can create large colonies in the soil which can displace turf and destabilize paving.
Species category: Ant
Scientific Name: Monomorium pharaonis
Family: Formicidae
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Description

This small ant is yellow-brown in colour with well-developed black eyes. Workers tend to be 1.5-2mm long, while the male is slightly larger at 3mm long and is a darker black colour with wings. The Queen is 3.6-5mm long, she is dark red and winged.

Widely distributed across Australia, they need warm, humid conditions which mean that in temperate lands they are confined to buildings and often found infesting hospitals.

Infestations are discovered in a wide variety of locations including residential blocks, hotels, hospitals, zoos and on board ships. In warmer climates, infestations can even be found outside.

The insects locate themselves in the fabric of buildings (wall voids, windows etc.) or in plants and sterile supplies. They can spread through service ducts (e.g. heating and electrical conduits). The ants forage for water around sinks and areas of condensation.

Ants forage for meat, cheese, fat, sugar, honey, jam etc. In hospital, they will feed on blood and intravenous diet fluids. Dead insects, mice and droppings can also provide a food source.

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Behaviour

There are several queens in one nest (polygenic). Winged Pharaoh ants do not fly. The queens are interchangeable, so colonies survive indefinitely. Disturb, rather than destroy the nest, and there is a strong likelihood that you will encourage a new colony.

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 workers continue to forage for food.

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Risk

Materials are often damaged by the ant’s constant chewing with their strong mandibles. They can even penetrate the plastic bags containing sterile dressings and instruments.

Pharaoh ants pose a risk to health as pathogenic organisms can be transmitted when the ants feed in unhygienic places including drains, bins or even wound dressings.

Species category: Ant
Scientific Name: Technomyrmex albipes
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Description

A small, dull, and cloudy-black coloured ant which can reach up to 3mm in length during adulthood. It is distinguished by the pale colouration on all of its tarsi and antennae which are a whitish-yellow colour. Unlike the Common Black Ant, it features a single petiolar node which is hidden and has 12 antennal segments.

Present all across India and in many parts of the world, these ants are native to tropical Asia.

Nests are more commonly located outdoors and there are often additional nests in close proximity. These new nests are created by the process of budding, where a selection of male and female ants leave the original nest and start a new colony.

Nests can be found in trees, shrubs or anywhere that will accommodate a group of ants including brick voids and behind fascias.

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Behaviour

These social ants are known to create incredibly large colonies that have a range of queens. Their reproduction potential is phenomenal due to the multiple fertile members of the colony. Some colony sizes are estimated at tens, even hundreds of thousands.

The White-Footed Ant is not a biting insect and primarily exists on sugary foods, particularly honeydew and occasionally proteins. Workers from this trailing species are very prevalent when foraging, as they can exist in large numbers.

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Risk

Seen more as a nuisance rather than a pest, these ants are troublesome because of their large colonies and constant foraging in kitchens, bathrooms and the exteriors of buildings.

Agricultural and crop damage is often worse in the presence of White-footed ants as they protect aphids and other bugs in order to feast on their sweet secretions. Protecting these bugs, allows them to destroy the plants they inhabit.