Ants are small but mighty insects. Not only are ants responsible for assisting in the decomposition of organic waste, as they gather their food they turn and aerate the earth’s soil, which allows water and oxygen to reach plant roots. Entomologists and ecologists agree that we literally could not survive without ants!
Even though they are obviously important members of the ecosystems they reside in and the world at-large, ants can be a nuisance when they begin to enter human territory. Ants are also difficult pests to treat. More than half of pest professionals even claim that ant infestations are on the rise.
In order to prevent and treat your home or landscape for ants, you have to know what species of ant you are dealing with. The most common ants in Middle Tennessee include fire ants, black ants, and carpenter ants. Keep reading to learn more about these pests and how to deal with them uniquely.
In need of ant pest control services in Nashville, TN or surrounding areas? Contact Certified Pest Control today.
While not native to the United States, fire ants are very common in Tennessee. Some may not realize that there are two species of fire ants: red fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) and black fire ants (Solenopsis richteri). You can best recognize if it is a fire ant colony making a home in your yard if you do not see a center hole; they instead use various underground tunnels to enter and exit the mound. They can also significantly harm your lawn’s ecosystem if left to their own devices.
Their name and bad reputation comes from the burning sensation their venom causes when they sting. Within the hour, a fire ant sting causes itchy bumps or blisters to form, but more serious reactions can occur. Local reactions on the skin tend to fade after several days, but systematic reactions are more serious and can include swelling, stomach cramps, and even trouble breathing.
Treat mild fire ant stings at home by washing the affected area gently with soap and cold water, taking an oral antihistamine (e.g. Benadryl), and applying hydrocortisone cream. For more serious reactions, seek medical attention or try prescription-strength ointments.
Preventative Tips for Fire Ants:
- Put out fire ant bait (hydramethylnon, indoxacarb, spinosad) instead of treating mounds individually.
- Hire a pest control service to administer a long-residual contact insecticide.
Black ants (Monomorium minimum), on the other hand, are natives to the northern and eastern U.S. and generally not as aggressive as the fire ant. While they do possess a stinger, it is rather small and shouldn’t cause much more than a minor irritation or bump on the skin.
Black ants are very adaptive and may build their nests in a variety of places. It is common to see black ant mounds in open areas of your yard as well as under wood, logs, and stones. Unfortunately, they are known to also nest in crevices of homes and buildings – in woodwork, holes in the wall, and even carpet.
Even though they are small, black ants can invade your yard or home very quickly. They like to set up camp where they have frequent access to food, such as your garden or pantry.
Preventative Tips for Black Ants:
- Use a compressed sprayer to drench outdoor nests with a residual insecticide.
- Remove litter, debris, and food items (including crumbs) that may attract the ants.
- Seal cracks in your foundation, doorways, and window sills to prevent the ants from coming inside.
Not to be confused with black ants, carpenter ants belong to the Camponotus genus. The carpenter ant is twice if not three times bigger than the black ant (6-12 mm), features a heart-shaped head, and can be brown, black, or even red in color.
Carpenter ants’ behavior is also unique and differs from black ants. Just like fire ants, carpenter ants earned their name; their destructive nature makes them a close equivalent to termites! Rather than searching for food crumbs in your home, carpenter ants simply want to live in the wood. They build extensive tunnels and nests in the walls, which makes them difficult to detect until you find yourself with an infestation – or severe damages – on your hands.
One way to determine if you should treat your yard or home for carpenter ants is if you begin to see flying black ants. Mature carpenter ants actually have wings, and once a nest has matured and become overpopulated, these ants will fly away to build a new colony.
Preventative Tips for Carpenter Ants:
- Keep firewood, fallen limbs, and decaying wood away from your home.
- Trim-back tree branches that touch, or even extend toward, your house.
- Replace damaged wood such as water-damaged baseboards, which are an easy target for carpenter ants.
Ants, along with many other bugs, are covered under our Yearly Protection Plan at Certified Pest Control. Learn more.