Nelson Ruiz No Comments

The Invasive Robust Crazy Ant Is Expanding Its Habitat Range In Urban Areas Of Arizona

The Invasive Robust Crazy Ant Is Expanding Its Habitat Range In Urban Areas Of Arizona

While only a very small minority of all documented ant species are considered indoor pests, ants are the most commonly encountered, and the most commonly managed insect pests within homes and buildings throughout the US. A significant proportion of ant pests in the US are non-native species that have established invasive populations throughout the world. Ants that are capable of surviving all types of international travel, and can readily establish invasive populations in numerous urban environments outside of their native range are aptly referred to as “tramp ants.”

Tramp ants generally inhabit large colonies that contain multiple queens that can leave at any time to establish new colonies of their own. This makes tramp ants exceptionally difficult to eliminate from structures, as infestations require pest control professionals to locate and destroy all colony nesting sites. Tramp ant pest species found in the US include Pharaoh ants, Argentine ants, Tawny crazy ants, odorous house ants, ghost ants, and more. Nylanderia bourbonica, or the “robust crazy ant,” is a little-known tramp ant species of increasing importance in Arizona.

The robust crazy ant has long been known as a tramp ant, but they are not well documented in the US because specimens are hard to distinguish from other closely related species in the country. Also, most descriptions of robust crazy ants in the US were documented only recently, and most sources state that this species is becoming more common in the southeastern states. However, these ants are now more prevalent in Arizona than they are in Louisiana and Mississippi, and their habitat range is currently expanding throughout the southern states. Robust crazy ants are heavily dependent on moist conditions in order to thrive, and despite the arid climate in southern Arizona, these ants are expected to become more prevalent in the Sonoran Desert region in the coming years.

Have you ever struggled to control an infestation of raspberry crazy ants?

 

 

 

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

The High Noon Ant Is One Of The Most Common Ant Pests Of Homes In Arizona Where They Seek Out Sweet Foods Within Homes And Occasionally Inflict Bites

The High Noon Ant Is One Of The Most Common Ant Pests Of Homes In Arizona Where They Seek Out Sweet Foods Within Homes And Occasionally Inflict Bites

Forelius pruinosus is an ant species that is known to be a common pest of homes in southern Arizona. A study carried out by university entomologists found that F. pruinosus was the second most common ant pest of homes in Phoenix and the fourth most common ant pest of homes in Tucson. Workers of this species made up 18 percent of the ants collected by pest control professionals during service calls in Phoenix. Unlike virtually all insect pests, F. pruinosus did not have a common name until somewhat recently.

Back in 2013, entomologists allowed the public to submit potential common names for F. pruinosus through Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Only names that reflected the species’ appearance, habits, or overall nature were considered. Entomologists eventually settled on the “high noon ant” as the common name for F. pruinosus, as this heat-loving species is unique for foraging in the desert at noon when the sun is at its highest.

The high noon ant is active in both natural and disturbed environments, and infestations typically see foraging workers enter homes from outside nests, but they are capable of nesting indoors as well. Workers are aggressive and will readily bite humans, but they do not possess a stinger. Workers are relatively small, as they measure between 1.8 and 2.5 mm in body length and their color varies from light brown to dark brown. Workers naturally feed on honeydew, and they invade homes to seek out food sources, especially sweets, and sometimes meats.

Colonies contain multiple queens which are 5 to 6 mm in body length. Queens frequently leave nests in order to establish their own colonies elsewhere, but these ants also establish new colonies by swarming during the summer months. These ants nest in soil beneath wood piles and rocks, and they are often found nesting within tree stumps and logs. All nests that are associated with infestations must be located and treated in order to fully eliminate workers from homes and prevent reinfestations. Luckily, workers of this species follow fixed foraging trails, which allows humans to easily follow these ant pests back to their nesting sites.

Have you ever experienced an ant infestation that required pinpointing and destroying multiple nests?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Thief Ants Are Common Indoor Pests That Are Known To Contaminate Stored Foods Within Homes

Solenopsis molesta, more commonly known as the “thief ant,” is one of the most commonly managed fly pests of homes, and they can be found in every state. A few ants that belong to the Solenopsis genus are the most venomous and medically significant ant species in the US. These dangerous ants include red-imported fire ants, black-imported fire ants, southern fire ants, and tropical fire ants. Although thief ants also belong to the Solenopsis genus, they are not considered dangerous, but they are a tremendous nuisance when they invade homes. Thief ant workers often invade homes to seek out food sources, particularly meat products.

In the natural environment, thief ants live in fields and meadows, but colonies are quite common in urban and suburban areas as well. Thief ants build nests in the ground soil, and one colony can establish several nesting sites that are interconnected by tunnels excavated by workers. Unfortunately, these ants can also establish nests within homes, usually in wall voids, base­ments, under base­boards, or in foun­da­tions. Thief ants feed on insects, honeydew, and seeds, but in urban and suburban areas, these ants regularly seek out food sources within homes. In homes, thief ants consume a variety of human foods, such as meats, vegetables, fruits, breads, sweets, an­i­mal fat, and dairy prod­ucts. Thief ants are commonly referred to as “grease ants” due to their habit of feeding on grease within homes.

Thief ants invade homes at a consistent rate throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons in Arizona, and they can be hard to keep out due to their excessively small size. Thief ant workers that forage within homes are between 1 ½ mm to 2 mm in size, and they have a yellow body with a brown colored head. Their small size allows them to invade stored food products within pantries and kitchen cupboards where they contaminate food with pathogens. In fact, the thief ant is on the “dirty 22” list of insect species that are known to spread pathogens to human food sources. The dirty 22 list was compiled by the Food and Drug Administration to raise awareness about the disease threat posed by common insect pests of homes.

Have you ever found ants in your stored food products?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

The Brown Rover Ant Is An Invasive Pest Species That Is Becoming More Abundant In Residential Areas

The Brown Rover Ant Is An Invasive Pest Species That Is Becoming More Abundant In Residential Areas

Ants that belong to the Brachymyrmex genus are commonly referred to as rover ants, and many species can be found in Arizona including B. patagonicus (formerly known as B. musculus), which is one of the most commonly encountered ant pest of homes in the state. These ant pests are extremely difficult to control due to their habit of invading homes in enormous numbers where they often establish multiple nests within areas that cannot be easily inspected, such as wall voids, ceiling voids, crowded storage rooms and tight attic spaces. The dark rover ant is also difficult to control because it’s an invasive species that was only recently introduced into the United States less than two decades ago. Pest control professionals must understand the biology, foraging habits, and nesting behaviors of the ant pests that they aim to control, which makes controlling the unfamiliar dark rover ant species a particularly challenging task. Unfortunately, another largely unknown non-native rover ant species has become a very common pest in Arizona homes, and its nearly identical in appearance to its dark rover ant relative. This species, B. obsurior, forages in homes where they are also able to establish nests within inaccessible areas.

obsurior, is commonly referred to as the brown rover ant, and like most other rover ant species, workers of the dark rover ant species are exceedingly small at only 1 to 2 mm in length. Workers vary in color from pale yellow to brown, and they nest within soil and moist wood. Workers often invade homes from multiple colony nests located in the surrounding property, and they prefer to feed on sweet-tasting foods. Brown rover ants also seem to thrive in moist conditions, and indoor nests have been found in boxes situated near water heaters and sinks. It has recently been learned that these ants can be transported onto properties within store-bought bags of mulch, and into homes within potted plants.

Have you ever experienced an indoor pest problem that originated from indoor potted plants?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Which Ant Pests Are Able To Establish Colonies Within Arizona Homes?

Several insect species in Arizona are considered pests within human dwellings, but not all insect pest species in the state are able to survive and reproduce within homes for indefinite periods of time. This is the case when it comes to seasonal insect house pests, such as boxelder bugs, elm leaf beetles, and cluster flies. These insect pests invade homes in large numbers during the fall in order to overwinter, but they are unable to reproduce indoors, and unless they eventually re-establish an outdoor presence, they will perish within homes. However, the most common and pestiferous insect pests commonly found in Arizona homes, like cockroaches, termites, house flies, bed bugs, carpet beetles, and many ant species, establish reproductive populations indoors. These insect pests are able to establish lasting indoor infestations that can be difficult to eradicate.

Some of the most common ant pests in Arizona that are able to establish indoor nests that contain reproductive queens include southern fire ants, thief ants and carpenter ants. Most indoor nesting ant pests species, such as southern fire ants and carpenter ants, can only establish thriving indoor colonies if they establish nests within moist areas. Unlike southern fire ants, carpenter ants establish nests within moist structural wood within homes, but just like southern fire ants, carpenter ants usually establish nests outside of wood within moist wall voids in bathrooms, around plumbing and near water heaters. These two pests also feed on indoor food sources. Of course, indoor thief ants must also be well hydrated in order to thrive within homes, but these pests tend to nest indoors in order to regularly feed on a variety of human food sources. These food sources include meats, cheeses and grease. While all these ant pests, and the majority of others, are able to nest indoors, they may also nest within soil and damp tree hollows located near the foundation of homes. In these cases, ant pests enter homes from outside nests solely to seek water and human food sources.

Have you ever experienced pest issues with southern fire ants?

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

How Often Do Arizona Pest Control Professionals Address Harvester Ant Infestations That Pose A Medical Threat To The Occupants Of Infested Homes?

How Often Do Arizona Pest Control Professionals Address Harvester Ant Infestations That Pose A Medical Threat To The Occupants Of Infested Homes?

It is probably safe to say that most Arizona residents are aware that numerous venomous and medically threatening animals inhabit their home state, including snakes, spiders, scorpions, ants, wasps, bees, and even lizards. It is also common knowledge that virtually all spiders in the state, while venomous and intimidating to look at, are harmless to humans. Of course, the western black widow and a few recluse spider species are exceptions in this regard. In Arizona, bees are more deadly than snakes, and this is due to the abundance of Africanized honey bees (killer bees) in the state. The Arizona bark scorpion has the potential to inflict deadly bites, but quality medical care makes fatal scorpion stings unheard of in the southwest US. Many Arizona residents are under the impression that red-imported fire ants can be found near their homes, but these hazardous ants were actually eradicated from the state years ago. However, extremely venomous harvester ants are abundant around Arizona homes.

The stings inflicted by harvester ants are considered to be among the most painful, and the venom produced by these ants is more toxic than that of all other insect species documented. A little more than 24 harvester ant species have been documented in North America, most of which can be found in Arizona. Studies have shown that southern fire ants and multiple harvester ant species are responsible for the vast majority of medically significant ant stings that occur in Arizona. The three harvester ant species considered to be a public health threat in Arizona are commonly known as rough, red and Maricopa harvester ants. The red harvester ant has caused two documented deaths. In one case, a Tucson man went into anaphylactic shock after one single red harvester ant stung his upper thigh. Apparently, the ant crawled into the man’s shorts while he had been sitting on a sidewalk.

Harvester ants are considered medically threatening pests due to their abundance in urban and suburban areas of Arizona, particularly Phoenix and Tucson. Luckily, harvester ants are not likely to invade homes, but one study found that Arizona pest control companies address harvester ant infestations frequently. In fact, harvester ant infestations around Arizona homes are becoming increasingly common due to the rate at which new homes are being built in their desert habitat.

Have you ever had an encounter with harvester ants?

 

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

The Little-Known Ant Pests That Commonly Nest In Woodwork And Inflict Painful Bites

The Little-Known Ant Pests That Commonly Nest In Woodwork And Inflict Painful Bites

The Crematogaster genus is comprised of numerous ant species, many of which are considered biting and wood-damaging structural pests. Worker ants from this genus vary from 2.5 mm to 4 mm, and their unusually large heads make them somewhat recognizable. Their heads range in color from reddish-brown to black, and most species possess dark or black colored bodies. Crematogaster ants rarely nest in soil below the ground; instead, these ants prefer to establish nests in moisture-damaged wood sources above the ground, most notably within tree stumps, logs, posts, and at the base of dead and decaying trees. Occasionally, these establish nests in moist structural wood within homes, and they are particularly abundant in urban and suburban habitats where multiple Crematogaster species are known pests that are commonly referred to as “acrobat ants,” and “cocktail ants.” These common names derive from their strange habit of raising or “cocking” their gaster (bulbous rear body segment) above their head when they become threatened.

Due to their need for moisture, Crematogaster ants are most abundant in the humid southeast, but several Crematogaster species can be found throughout Arizona, including the two most pestiferous species, C. cerasi and C. lineolata. C. cerasi workers are reddish-brown and they frequently nest within wood on roofs, wood siding, structural wood in ceiling and wall voids, door and window frames, and wooden porches. Workers are known for being aggressive and they emit an unpleasant odor when disturbed. C. lineolata workers are the same color as C. cerasi workers, with the exception of some yellowish colored individuals. Like most species in this genus, C. lineolata workers emit a foul odor when disturbed, but unlike many of their close relatives, C. lineolata workers aggressively bite humans. While C. cerasi prefers to feed on live and dead insects, C. lineolata workers seek out human food sources, especially sweets and meat, making them common within pantries and kitchen cupboards. Both species tend to establish nests within existing cavities in wood that had already been excavated by other insect species, such as termites and carpenter ants.

Have you ever sustained ant bites within your home?

 

 

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

The Very Common Indoor Ant Pest That Is Often Mistaken For The Argentine Ant

The Very Common Indoor Ant Pest That Is Often Mistaken For The Argentine Ant

One of the most common ant pest species in southern Arizona, Iridomyrmex pruinosus, or Forelius pruinosus, as the species is known today, is often mistaken for the highly pestiferous Argentine ant species. Argentine ants are common ant pests in most southern states, but they are relatively less abundant in Arizona. F. pruinosus, on the other hand, is consistently the first or second most commonly encountered ant species by pest control professionals in residential areas of Phoenix. This pest species is also among the top 5 most commonly encountered ant pest species in residential areas of Tucson. While this ant pest does not inflict venomous stings to humans, F. pruinosus workers invade homes in large numbers, and eradicating infestations is exceedingly difficult, even for professionals.

DYI pest control techniques will usually not suffice to eliminate F. pruinosus infestations, and most infestation victims do not bother with such techniques after seeing the overwhelming number of ants an infestation entails. Although F. pruinosus colonies are not as large as Argentine ant colonies, the former occasionally nests within houses, while the latter sees workers invade homes from outside nests. In most F. pruinosus infestation cases, the workers invade homes from nests located near the foundation and at the surface of soil beneath concrete slabs. Nests are also frequently found in exposed soil and obscured beneath objects like stones, leaf litter, patios, wood piles, logs, and around stumps. This species is abundant throughout the southeast and in much of the southwest, but specimens collected from these two areas look markedly different from one another. Southeastern species are usually dark, while southwestern species see workers come in a variety of shades and colors, but most are light in color. Workers are relatively small at only around 1.8 to 2 mm in length regardless of their geographic location, and they form uniform foraging trails that lead into homes from outside nests. When crushed, F. pruinosus secrete a fluid that smells strongly of rotten coconut, not unlike the odor produced by the aptly named odorous house ant species.

Have you ever experienced an infestation that consisted of an unusually large number of ant pests?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Velvety Tree Ants Are Nuisance Pests That May Damage A Home’s Structural Wood And Inflict Bites

The velvety tree ant is one of many nuisance ant pest species commonly found around and within Arizona homes. These ants establish nests within dead wood sources that have become decayed or waterlogged. This species’ most common nesting sites are located within tree stumps, dead trees, isolated logs, beneath the bark of living trees, and within soil located beneath dead wood. These ants have also been known to nest within structural and cosmetic wood sources, especially in damaged structural wood that makes contact with the ground soil. While velvety tree ants do not feed on structural wood like termites do, they can cause further damage to structural and cosmetic wood sources that have already become compromised by rainwater, plumbing leaks or lawn irrigation. Velvety tree ants may also infest yards where they build an extensive network of foraging trails below and above the ground. Although these ants do not sting, they may bite when disturbed.

In addition to nesting within damaged structural and cosmetic wood sources, velvety tree ants may also establish centralized nesting sites within decayed natural wood sources located on residential lawns. These ants sometimes become abundant near or alongside structural foundations where the pests can easily invade indoor areas in large numbers. Reproductive swarmers emerge from colony nesting sites every summer, and these swarms have been known to emerge from infested structural wood within homes. The nests that these ant pests excavate within wood resembles a honeycomb, and workers venture back and forth between the nest and the outside environment where they prey upon honeydew-rich aphids and other insects. Velvety tree ants feed on a variety of human foods as well, which may attract large numbers of worker ants into indoor living areas, particularly kitchens and pantries.

Black to brown colored velvety tree ant workers range from ⅛ to ¼ of an inch in length, and they are often confused with odorous house ants due to their similar indoor foraging habits, appearance and for the unpleasant odor that workers emit when they become threatened or crushed. Velvety tree ants are also frequently confused with carpenter ants due to their habit of nesting within decayed structural and cosmetic wood within homes.

Have you ever found ants congregating in your cupboard or pantry?

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

The Native Southern Fire Ant Is An Aggressive Species That Inflicts Painful Stings And Infests Homes, And At Least One Envenomation Incident Resulted In Death

The Native Southern Fire Ant Is An Aggressive Species That Inflicts Painful Stings And Infests Homes, And At Least One Envenomation Incident Resulted In Death

The S. xyloni ant species is one of three fire ant species found in Arizona, the others being S. aureus and S. amblychila. The red-imported fire ant is the most well known fire ant species in the United States, and while this species is invasive in the US, many people are surprised to learn that some fire ants are native to the US, one of which is the S. xyloni species. The S. xyloni fire ant species is commonly referred to as the “southern fire ant,” and this species can be recognized by their dark reddish-brown exterior that is covered in golden hairs.

Like other fire ant species, the southern fire ant often inflicts damage to lawns which can sometimes be costly for homeowners. When fire ants infest a lawn their unsightly dirt mounds become a conspicuous part of the landscape, and southern fire ant nests can also become established indoors. Much like red imported fire ants, southern fire ants will emerge out of their nests in large numbers if they become distrubed. These ants will not hesitate to climb onto a person’s body before inflicting numerous stings, which can be fatal to those with an allergy to arthropod venoms. These ants can also establish indoor infestations that can pose both a medical risk to a home’s inhabitants as well as a nuisance. The southern fire ant prefers to establish colonies within lawns where grass is stressed and dry, making them a prominent species in southern Arizona. This species can also establish nests within wall-voids, below carpeting, and in crawl spaces, and colonies can grow to contain 10,000 individual ants. While anaphylaxis does not often occur in response to southern fire ant stings, this species was believed to have caused the death of a three month old baby after the ant pests invaded a day care center.

Have you ever experienced a fire ant infestation either indoors or outdoors?