Ant Colonies & Societies | Keeping Them Out of Your Home

By Bridget Ambrose

Did you know that ant colonies have a highly complex social structure? Within each ant colony, there is a hierarchy of roles and responsibilities that helps the colony function as a whole. This article will explore the different aspects of ant society, and how it relates to pest control strategies. Keep reading for useful advice on preventing ant infestations in your home!

How are Ant Societies Structured?

Ant societies are structured into a caste system, with physiological differences dictating which ant performs which job. The ant colony is made up of three main groups: the workers, the soldiers, and the reproductive caste.

The workers are responsible for gathering food and caring for the young. Worker ants also build and repair the nest, and defend the colony from enemies if there is a shortage of soldiers. Worker ants typically live for around two years.

The soldiers are responsible for protecting the colony from predators and other threats. They have large mandibles that they use to fight off intruders. Solider ants make up a small percentage of the colony, and they don’t live as long as workers or queens. However, when the colony is threatened, the reproductive caste can create more as needed. Soldiers and workers are almost exclusively female in most species, as males primarily exist for the sole purpose of fertilization.

The reproductive caste consists of the queen ant and the male ants (drones). The queen ant is responsible for laying eggs, and the drones are responsible for fertilizing the eggs and keeping the queen clean and well-fed. The queen is the most important member of the colony, as she is the single point of failure if she were to die.

The queen and drones of many species have wings, unlike the worker ants. The drone’s sole purpose is to reproduce as soon as possible, typically dying within a few hours after mating.

The hierarchy of ant society is essential to the survival of the colony. Each ant has its own role to play for the colony to function properly. This division of labor ensures that the colony can effectively gather food, care for the young, and protect itself from predators.

How do Ants Communicate?

One of the most important aspects of ant colonies is their ability to communicate. Ants use pheromones to communicate with each other. Pheromones are chemicals that allow ants to share information about food sources, danger, and other important topics. This form of communication is essential to the survival of the colony.

In addition to scent, ants also use touch to communicate, using their antennae to add further detail to their commands. While some ants use sound to communicate, this is somewhat uncommon. Occasionally, drones can use sound to look for potential mates that are out of distance, or even in different colonies all together. Interestingly, ants will sometimes raise their abdomen to effectively “thumbs-up” each other in a quick and easy way to confirm orders from a distance.

How Can I Keep Ants Out of my House?

Pest control strategies must take into account the hierarchy of ant society in order to be effective. If the queen is killed, the colony will eventually die out. However, if the workers are killed, the colony can still survive. This is because the soldiers can defend the colony and the reproductive caste can continue to produce new generations of ants.

When dealing with an ant infestation, it is important to identify the type of ant that is causing the problem. There are different pest control strategies for different species of ants. For example, carpenter ants and fire ants are more difficult to control than other types of ants, as they are more aggressive and damaging.

If you have an ant problem in your home, there are a few things you can do to prevent them from coming back. First and foremost, seal any cracks or holes in your home that ants could use to enter. This is the most permeant and proactive solution. Sealing cracks, especially in the home’s foundation, keeps pests of all kinds out. This can even protect your home from water damage and mold. However, this may not be a cost-effective or practical short term solution for some.

Second, remove food sources that might attract ants by thoroughly cleaning your kitchen, bathroom, and food storage. Pests of all kind will be less likely to invade a space if there are no resources for them there, and ant colonies won’t form in clean homes as easily. Ants especially love kitchen floors that are sticky with sugary spills from sauces or alcohol. Mopping regularly with soap and warm water can not only get rid of the food that attracts ants, but the cleaning materials themselves work as repellants.

Finally, use bait to lure the ants away from your home. Knowing that ant colonies revolve around the queen, permanently removing a colony from your home hinges on making sure she stops laying eggs. One of the best ways to kill ant colonies that have lodged in your home is to get the workers to feed her toxic food. Cornstarch is a cheap, environmentally friendly option here. Sprinkle it around problem areas, and workers will take it back to the colony and hopefully feed it to the queen. Cornstarch creates intense inflammation in ants and can usually kill most queens if they eat it. However, this may take longer than traditional poisons.

A solution that mixes sweet syrup or honey and chemicals like borax can work as well, but the critters may not take it back to their ant colonies if they sense too much poison. Check out this article for a proven recipe for a borax-sugar solution. Try dabbing cotton balls with the solution to keep it from washing away or evaporating if used outdoors. If sugar isn’t working, try peanut butter, as the oils may more effectively mask the scent of borax.

Ants of all kinds are fascinating creatures with complex social structures. By understanding the hierarchy of ant society, we can better control them and prevent them from causing problems in our homes. If you’re having trouble keeping these critters out of your home, proof. pest control is here to help. Contact us for a free consultation today.

Call proof. pest control at 888-291-5333, or send us a message online.

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