The Common Ants That Are Most Active Around Homes During The Cold Winter Season

Prenolepis imparis, or the small honey ant, is a common ant pest in houses throughout much of the United States, and like most ant species, honey ants are most abundant in the southern states. Generally, ants are most active during the warmer months before entering into a dormant state during the winter season. However, small honey ants are unique in that they are most active during the winter when temperatures are between 35 and 55 degrees in Texas. Amazingly, these ants have been found emerging from their underground nests when temperatures are in the single digits.

Small honey ants usually infest homes by entering in large numbers from outside nests, but they also establish indoor nesting sites on occasion. It is not uncommon for reproductive alates of this species to swarm indoors during the colder months, particularly from January through March, but seasonal mating flights are most frequent during the spring. Foraging worker ants of this species are determined home invaders where they seek out a variety of human food sources such as grains, meats, fruits, vegetables, and especially sugars. Foraging workers gain access indoors with ease due to this species’ habit of nesting within expansion joints where concrete slabs make contact with foundations. Small honey ants also eat away at garden flowers and landscaping plants, and entirely colonies have been found infesting both indoor and outdoor potted plants.

Small honey ants workers can be recognized by their dark brown to black exterior and relatively small 2 to 4 mm body length. Queens of this species resemble workers, only they are around twice their size. Homes that become infested with small honey ants should be inspected thoroughly, especially around the foundation. Indoor infestations usually see multiple outdoor nests that each contain multiple queens. Luckily, pest control professionals can destroy nests with relative ease by injecting insecticide into their small nesting chambers, which contain hundreds or a couple thousand individual ants.

Have you ever found ant pests feeding on your indoor food items?





Dreaded Pharaoh Ants Establish Nests Within Hard-To-Access Areas Within Homes Where Colonies Can Develop Rapidly

Getting an infestation of the household pests Pharaoh ants is a nightmare that is, unfortunately, all too common, as they are prevalent all over the planet and the most difficult ants to control. This ant species does not nest outdoors except for in the warmest regions, making them the ant scourge of many households. They do not exactly stand apart in the looks department either, which makes them difficult to distinguish from many other ant species. Like most other ants you come across, they are small and range in color from a yellowish, light brown to red. One of the major reasons they are so difficult to control is their prolific breeding habits. They also will nest in areas that are difficult to access and establish colonies throughout an entire building. Needless to say, they are considered one of the worst indoor pests in the country.

Pharaoh ants are a major indoor pest throughout Texas, and were even reported to have infested a seven story medical center, in which they were a particular danger to the burn victims and newborns, as they can transmit over a dozen pathogens. They were seen looking for moisture in the mouths of sleeping infants, as well as from IV bags that were in use at the time. So, these guys will go after any food or moisture source, no matter how out-in-the-open and risky the place might be.

Pharaoh ants build their nests in warm, moist, hard-to-access areas in your home that have nearby sources of food and water, such as inside wall voids. While the colonies tend to be large in size, they can contain anywhere from a few dozen to several thousand and sometimes several hundred thousand ants. The reason for this level of proliferation is the short amount of time needed for eggs to develop into adults, which is around 38 days for workers and 42 days for queens and males meant for mating purposes. Mating between the queens and males happens inside the nest, with no swarming occuring. The sheer number of eggs a queen can hatch in one go also doesn’t help, as she can produce over 400 eggs in batches of 10 to 12. The colonies also often split after growing larger, with numerous daughters branching off with a group of workers to create their own nest. This can obviously result in your entire home being infested with Pharaoh ants fairly quickly.

Have you ever had to deal with an infestation of Pharaoh ants?





Why Accurately Identifying Red Imported Fire Ants Can Be Relatively Difficult, And How They Can Be Differentiated From Similar Looking Ant Pest Species

The red-imported fire ant was first documented in the US back during the 1930s, and since then this species has spread to numerous southern states where they are considered a major public health threat. Red-imported fire ants are the most common ant pest species in central Texas where their dirt mounds have become a dreaded sight to residents. These invasive ants are known for rapidly colonizing residential yards and inflicting stings that cause tremendous pain and result in unsightly pustule wounds. A relatively high number of people are allergic to red-imported fire ant venom, and for these sensitive individuals, a fire ant attack can lead to anaphylactic shock and even death if treatment is not sought out in a timely manner. During periods of drought and/or exceptionally hot weather, red-imported fire ants may invade homes where they are likely to seek out human food sources. Despite the notoriety of red-imported fire ants, colony workers can be difficult to identify for several reasons.

One of the most significant difficulties when it comes to accurately identifying red-imported fire ant workers has to do with the wide variation in their body sizes. Workers range in size from 1/16 of an inch in body length to 1/4 of an inch in body length, and the largest workers can be 3 times as large as the smallest workers. Red-imported fire ant workers are nearly identical to workers of the native tropical fire ant species, but close detection will reveal that tropical fire ants are composed of a minority of relatively large sized workers with square-shaped heads. Generally, native fire ant workers are more uniform in size than red-imported fire workers, but unlike other mound-building ants, like harvester ants and leafcutter ants, both native and red-imported fire ants create dirt mounds with no central entry/exit hole. However, red-imported fire ant mounds are typically a bit larger in both height and circumference. When finding dirt mounds with no central entrance hole, residents should assume that the mounds belong to red-imported fire ants due to the species commonality in central Texas.

Have you ever stepped on a red-imported fire ant mound?



90% Of Central Texans Have Been Attacked By Red-Imported Fire Ants, Making The Region The Most Fire Ant-Heavy Region In Texas

Many of the most frequently encountered ant pests in the United States originate from other countries. Some of these common ant pests include Pharaoh ants, pavement ants and crazy ants. Although many non-native ant species in the US are well known house pests, some have inhabited the country for such a long time that they have adapted to the environment, and are not technically considered “invasive.” However, a large number of non-native ants that have invaded the country relatively recently have established an invasive habitat in Texas and other southern states where they inflict serious environmental damage in addition to being major household pests. These invasive ant pests include Argentine ants, longhorned crazy ants, and of course, red-imported fire ants. Red-imported fire ants have become established throughout the southern states, but they are particularly problematic in Texas. In fact, central Texas is the worst region in the state for red-imported fire ant pest issues, as 90 percent of the population has sustained fire ant stings.

Red-imported fire ants are well known for being one of the most dangerous insect pests inhabiting the US, and numerous people have died in response to their repeated stings since they were introduced into the country back in the 1930s. The vast majority of red-imported fire ant fatalities occur due to serious allergic reactions to their venom, and it is estimated that at least one percent of the population is allergic. Red-imported fire ants cannot be eradicated from areas of the natural environment where they have already become established, but in recent years, authorities have successfully contained wild populations, making it unlikely for the ant pests to continue expanding their habitat. While red-imported fire ants frequently establish lawn infestations, household infestations are not uncommon. In order to prevent red-imported fire ants from invading structures, the exterior cracks, crevices and other entry points on a home should be sealed. Anyone who sustains multiple stings should seek medical attention, even those who are not allergic.

Have you ever spotted red-imported fire ants within a home?


Why Numerous Crazy Ants Were Found In 90 Out Of 150 Air Conditioning Units Within A Waco Apartment Building

The past two decades have seen several invasive ant species make their way into Texas where they have caused extreme pest problems for homeowners as well as ecosystem upset by displacing native ant species. Argentine ants and Tawny crazy ants are the two most recent and notable of Texas’ invasive ant species, and both of these species are known for congregating in unusually large numbers within hard-to-access locations within homes, such as within wall voids, beneath baseboards, attic spaces, and in the case of Tawny crazy ants, both heavy and light electronic devices.

Many ant species, like the red-imported fire ant, have been described as being attracted to electronic machinery, and sometimes, ants pests damage wiring, but only Tawny crazy ants invade electronic devices in massive numbers where they cause internal damage in nearly every infestation case. These ants have caused refrigerators, air conditioning units, video game consoles, and even smartphones to stop working due to their habit of nesting within such electronic appliances and devices. In fact, an infestation of Tawny crazy ants in Waco saw more than half of all window-placed air conditioning units in an apartment building become infested with these ants in a matter of hours.

Tawny crazy ants were first discovered in the US back in 2002 when an exterminator gathered specimens that he had encountered in a Houston Neighborhood. Since then, these highly destructive ants have colonized much of eastern and Central Texas, and they have been a problem for homeowners in Waco for a decade. Tawny crazy ants have the peculiar habit of nesting within electronic devices because, unlike most ant species, they do not build their own nesting burrows. This is because the ant pests constantly roam in large masses where they seek out natural or manmade nesting cavities that are warm and dark, like inside of electronics. This species’ constant roaming is also why they are common home invaders and prefer to settle in dark wall voids. The massive size of these roaming colonies is the worst aspect of treating structures infested with Tawny crazy ants. For example, massive colonies in Waco saw millions of the ants invade an apartment building where thousands were found in 90 out of 150 air condition units. This infestation spread out of control quickly and took two months to control.

Have you ever found a roaming mass of Tawny crazy ants?




Argentine Ant Infestations

When it comes to insect pests, ants are generally recognized as being one of the most difficult insect groups to eradicate from infested houses. This is largely due to their highly evolved social behaviors, as well as their relatively small body sizes, which allows them to exploit numerous entry points that lead into homes. Invasive ant species are even more difficult to eradicate from infested homes, as any insect species that can thrive in a non-native habitat must be well adapted to survive environmental threats, including pest control professionals.

For those who do not already know, “invasive species,” are organisms that establish ecologically damaging habitats in regions where they are not native. The most well known invasive ant species in the United States is the red-imported fire ant, which can be found in most areas of Texas, including Waco. However, more than 75 invasive ant species have become established in the southern half of the US, and most of these exotic species have become particularly problematic within Texas.

One of the most recent non-native ant species to establish an invasive habitat in the US is the Argentine ant. These ants are largely a nuisance within homes in southeastern and Central Texas, but their large indoor congregations make these pests overwhelming to residents and extremely difficult to eradicate for pest control professionals. Argentine ants are difficult to control due to their habit of establishing multiple nesting sites within hard-to-access enclosed areas within homes. These areas include wall voids, under baseboards and storage areas. Argentine ants often establish nests near pipes and within bathroom wall voids in order to retain needed moisture.

Ant infestations can only be eradicated provided that the reproductive queen of a colony is killed or removed from a home, but this is hard to do when it comes to Argentine ants since they dwell within colonies that contain multiple queens. Argentine ants are also able to establish new satellite nests rapidly, and it only takes 10 workers and one queen to establish an entirely new parent colony, so removing one or several nests from a home hardly means that an infestation has been eliminated. Luckily, pest control professionals can effectively eliminate Argentine ant infestations by injecting aerosol dusts into wall voids where nests are usually located, and outdoor nests can be treated with a number of insecticide solutions.

Have you, or one of your neighbors ever fallen victim to an Argentine ant infestation?


How Often Do Carpenter Ants Infest Structural Wood Within Texas Homes?

Carpenter ants are well known for nesting within both natural and structural wood sources. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not consume wood; instead, they weaken structures by excavating nesting galleries within a home’s lumber components. Carpenter ants are not considered serious pests in yards, as they do not damage lawn grass, plants or create unsightly nesting mounds. In some cases, carpenter ants nest within dead trees in residential areas, sometimes causing tree branches to fall into yards. Carpenter ants will only nest within natural and finished woods that have become saturated with high amounts of moisture, and decaying wood sources are particularly attractive nesting sites to the ant pests.

In many parts of the country, especially in the east where the destructive black carpenter ant can be found, carpenter ants inflict a fair amount of damage to structural and/or cosmetic wood sources, but this is not necessarily the case in Texas. Although several carpenter ant species inhabit Texas, these species rarely infest the structural wood within homes, and when they do, the damage that they inflict is minimal. This is not to say that Texas carpenter ant species are not pests, as large numbers of carpenter ants enter Texas homes often in order to feed on human food sources, and these infestations start when ants in one large colony move into a house where they may establish a nest within an obscured location. Although carpenter ants do not infest structural wood often in Texas, homes with a history of infestations can be hard to sell due to the reputation these ants have for damaging indoor wood sources.

Carpenter ant colonies remain small for the first two to three years after a nest is established, but colonies begin to grow rapidly after three years. Within four to six years, nests can contain more than 3,000 ants, and these nests may be interconnected with other satellite nests, depending on the species. Carpenter ants enter homes through narrow foundation cracks, beneath doors, through windows, air conditioning ducts, and attic vents. In many cases, carpenter ants will establish a nest within moist wall voids or beneath baseboards located near tubs, sinks and any other dark area where moisture content is high. Carpenter ants may also nest within damp cosmetic or structural wood that makes contact with soil, and nests are often found within wall insulation, including foam board insulation.

Were you under the impression that carpenter ant infestations always see the pests nest within structural wood?


Red-Imported Fire Ant Sting Fatalities Are Disturbingly Common Within Texas

Numerous ant species are well known pests within homes located in every region of the United States. Some of the most commonly reported ant species found within Texas homes include pavement ants, carpenter ants, crazy ants, and worst of all, red-imported fire ants. Texas is obviously a large state in terms of area, and due to its southern location bordering Mexico, several ant species that are native the South America have journeyed into the state where they quickly established an invasive habitat. One of these species, the crazy ant, is becoming more well known among residents of the lone star state due to its rapidly expanding habitat. While the crazy ant has been documented as causing nuisance infestations that sometimes result in serious damage to appliances, televisions, video game consoles and numerous other electronic devices, the notorious red-imported fire ant remains the most widely feared invasive South American ant species within the state. This fear is well justified, as the red-imported fire ant has caused many deaths within Texas due to its venomous sting, which may trigger serious allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock. In fact, Texas is second only to Florida in terms of reported red-imported fire ant fatalities..

Unfortunately, the red-imported fire ant is extremely difficult, if not impossible to eradicate from areas where it has established an invasive habitat. This dangerous ant species does not often infest homes, but they frequently infest residential yards where many fatal attacks upon humans have occurred. The first red-imported fire ant sighting in Texas occurred during the 1930s, and since then, this species has spread to every county within the state. Back in 1989, the Fire Ant Subcommittee of the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology surveyed nearly 30,000 physicians in order to determine the total amount of fatal anaphylactic shock cases caused by red-imported fire ant stings. The study collected a total of 83 fatal anaphylactic shock deaths that resulted from red-imported fire ant stings, 22 of which occurred in Florida followed by 19 that occurred within Texas. This study was conducted 30 years ago, and since then, the red-imported fire ant has increased its habitat substantially within the US.

Have you ever encountered red-imported fire ants?

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Crazy Ants Have Terrorized School Children, Caused Power Outages In Homes, And Are Moving Into Houses, But Researchers May Be Able To End The Ant Scourge In Texas

The South American ant species known as N. fulva, or the crazy ant, was spotted for the first time on US soil in Houston back in 2002. Since then, this troublesome ant has established an invasive habitat in southeastern and parts of central Texas. These ants are unique for fitting just about every category of “pest” that has been established, as this species is an agricultural pest, yard pest, house pest, and a pest of medical significance to animals, including large livestock, like cows. Although the crazy ant does not infest structural wood like carpenter ants, swarms of these invasive ants do infest electrical devices like appliances, fuse boxes, electrical utility boxes, sewage pumps and power grids, making the insects “structural pests” as well. Basically, all types of electrical equipment can fail due to crazy ant infestations, and these types of infestations have been found within and near homes and buildings, sometimes causing power outages.

In 2014, crazy ants swarmed young school children that were on a field trip in Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco. It was during this time that park authorities discovered that crazy ants had killed off numerous insect and arachnid species within the park, including scorpions and tarantulas. The invasive ants even managed to blind rabbits and other animals by spraying their naturally occurring acid into their eyes. Enormous crazy ant nests had become established around the parks restrooms, posing a serious threat to visitors.

Unlike most ant species, crazy ants do not construct defined nests; instead, they simply gather in massive number over all types of natural and manmade surfaces. Residents living in areas of Texas where these ants have become established have found their homes inundated with these ants, causing widespread terror, but luckily, the bites these ants inflict to humans is not very painful.

In response to the crazy ant dispersal across southeastern Texas, a University of Texas researcher, Ed LeBraun, is determined to find a biological control method in the form of a crazy ant predator to control crazy ant populations before the insects make further advancements into urban and residential areas. Unfortunately, LeBraun claims that the insects probably cannot be eradicated from the state, but they can be controlled.

Have you ever encountered a swarm of crazy ants?



Why Are Pets Often Attacked By Red-Imported Fire Ants? And What To Do If Your Pet Sustains Stings

The presence of red-imported fire ants (RIFA) in Texas is well known to residents of the state, as this insect species’ sting transmits a dangerously potent venom into the bloodstream, making RIFA a public health concern. While most people likely associate RIFA with the painful and dangerous stings that they inflict on humans, pets and small animals are far more likely to sustain RIFA stings than humans. In fact, a survey conducted by veterinarians found that pets (mostly dogs) are treated for RIFA stings more often than any other type of animal.

There are several reasons as to why pets are particularly vulnerable to sustaining medically significant RIFA stings. Some of these reasons are obvious, while others would surprise most people. For example, it is not well known that RIFA are attracted to pet food. RIFA often blanket pet food bowls, covering the pet’s food source entirely. Not surprisingly, this ant behavior leads to many nasty and dangerous pet injuries inflicted by large numbers of RIFA. In addition to the pain and medical significance of RIFA stings inflicted around and inside of the nose and mouth of pets, these encounters can make pets avoid consuming their food in fear of a repeat attack. Owners have many options when it comes to soothing the pain from their pets, from CBD for Pets to painkillers prescribed by a veterinarian. Whilst it can be good to try the latter first to help make sure it is what is best for the injured animal, many have found that alternative medicine has done well with their furry friend. You could try CBD oil to relieve their pets of pain. It is sold by companies like cbd dog health and can be used for dogs, cats and other exotic pets.

Most pet owners are mindful about where they allow their pets to wonder, as disease-spreading ticks are abundant in many regions of the US, but most residents feel comfortable allowing their pets to run and play within the confines of their property. Unfortunately, RIFA are known for establishing habitats in a vast array of environments and landscapes, and the ants are by no means uncommon in residential yards in Texas. When RIFA are disturbed, thousands will emerge from their underground nesting galleries with the intention of stinging the source of the disturbance. The roughhousing and digging behaviors demonstrated by many dog breeds is more than enough to rally the ants from their nests. Given the much smaller size of pets compared to humans, RIFA venom has a far more dangerous effect on pets, and multiple stings are sufficient for delivering a lethal dose of venom into an animal’s bloodstream. Although RIFA habitats cannot be eradicated entirely, the ants can be controlled to the point where they no longer pose a threat to humans or pets. Simply keeping an eye out for RIFA specimens and nesting mounds on a property can prevent dangerous encounters between the ants and your pet/s. There are more manageable treatments for dogs that sustain stings from insects, including cbd tincture for dogs, but it’s still really important to ensure you manage where your dog digs to stop it from disturbing RIFA.

Has your pet ever sustained a medically significant insect or arachnid sting or bite?