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South African Ants

This list is non-exhaustive

In South Africa, we have two common species of ants called the Pharaohs ant and the common black ant (The former Monomorium pharaonis, and the latter Lasius niger). Of the two species, the Pharaoh Ant is the species that do pose a risk to one’s health due to the habitat they can occur in which can be refuse areas, drains, and sewers which in turn is a high risk in transmitting various pathogens.
Black ants generally are of nuisance value to many residents and if not treated correctly can cause damage to ones paving, whereby they tunnel under the brickwork and deposit heaps of soil thus causing the paving to collapse. As well as being a nuisance value, in certain circumstances in their vast numbers and nesting habits can destroy plants and grass growth.

Ant, this is the common name for members of a family of hymenopteran insects known for highly organised social life ants a wingless caste. At least 8800 species exist, with most found in the tropics. Ants are found throughout the world except in the Polar Regions and at the very highest altitudes. True ants are entirely different from the so-called white ants or termites, which constitute a different order. These ants are commonly referred to as black or red ants in South Africa. Both species follow a similar life cycle and thus a similar control programme would be effective, this will follow under control measures.

Profile view of ant Monomorium pharaonis specimen.

A pharaoh ant worker near the tip of a ball point pen

Identification & Physical Description

Pharoah ants are small, approximately 2mm long. They are yellow to light brown in color. Pharoah ants have poor eyesight.

Life Cycle

The full life cycle of Pharoah ants takes about 42 days. Queens often lay 12 eggs at a time but can potentially lay as many as 400. Queens only live for 4-12 months. Workers live for a couple of months and usually die soon after mating.

Food & Water

Pharaoh ants eat food of all types, especially sweets. They will also eat other insects,baked goods, sugar, jellies, syrup, honey, fruit juice, soft drinks, grease, starch, dead insects and even shoe polish, silk, rayon and rubber

Social Behaviour

The Pharaoh ant colony consists of queens, males and workers.Pharaoh ants have large colonies and they are easy to spot but very difficult to locate their nests.

Nesting

Pharaoh Ants like to nest in warm areas. Their nests are usually hidden, and can forage far away from the nest with trails marked by trail pheromones.

Health Risks

Pharaoh ants spread pathogens which include salmonella and Streptococcus. Pharaoh ants are particularly dangerous in hospitals because they contaminate patient wounds.

Linepithema humilis, Argentine ant

Typical size of worker ants found in Southern California.

These markers can help identify Argentine ants.

Argentine ants on a dead horse-fly

Identification & Physical Description

Argentine ants are wingless worker ants, which are 1/12 to 1/8 cm long. They are light to dark brown in color with a single node in the waist. The Argentine queen ant is 1/6 to ¼ cm long. The colony tends to travel in trails.

Life Cycle

The entire life cycle of the Argentine ant from egg to adult takes 2 to 3 months. As adults, Workers live a month or more. Queens live up to 10 years. Larvae emerge approximately 28 days later. The larval stage lasts from 11 to 60 days, followed by a pupal stage of 10 to 25 days.

Food & Water

Argentine Ants prefer sweet foods and are often found tending aphids or scale insects on plants, using them as a source of honeydew. Even though worker ants eat sweet treats, they gather protein/grease-based foods to bring back to the queens and larvae.

Social Behaviour

Argentine ants are very dominant and can be very territorial which makes them take over areas driving out any other native species of ants.

Nesting

Argentine ants nest in cavities at the base of shrubs and trees. Their nests are shallow, measuring up to 20 cm in depth in open habitats.

Health Risks

The biggest health risk associated with an Argentine ant infestation is food contamination because they crawl over rubbish bins, dead animals, and sewage looking for food and can bring germs that cause diseases like dysentery.

Dorsal view of ant Coastal Brown Ant

Dorsal view of soldier bigheaded ant

Minor and major workers feeding on a crumb, indoors

Identification & Physical Description

The Coastal Brown Ant, is a small golden brown to brown in and typically measuring 1.5 -2.5mm. It is distinguished by two raised nodes on the pedicel. The Coastal Brown Ant has a spine on the thorax and 12 segmented antennae.

Life Cycle

Coastal brown ants have 4 life cycle stages: (egg – larva – pupa – adult).
The queen can potentially lay up to 290 eggs per month to hatch 2-4 weeks later.
Worker ants live for approx. 1 year
Queen ants live for several years

Food & Water

Coastal Brown Ants are both carbohydrates and protein eaters but do have a preference to oily proteins. They feed on sweet liquids.

Social Behaviour

These ants are a very invasive breed. They create super colonies and Multiply queens so they can reproduce rapidly

Nesting

Coastal brown ants are soil-nesting ants that displaces soil and leaves tell-tale mounds of soil next to the nest opening.

Health Risks

The coastal brown ant does not pose any health risks to humans nor does it cause structural damage. The ant can only bite when their nest had been distrurbed and the bite is not reported to poise any health hazards.

Fire ants

Fire ant mound

Detail of the head (Solenopsis geminata)

A fire ant worker, queen, and male (clockwise from bottom left)

Solenopsis winged reproductive females, queens and workers

Identification & Physical Description

Fire ants are reddish-brown with a darker abdomen. Fire ants can range in size from 1/16 – ¼ cm long depending on the species. Fire ants have noticeable waists with clubbed or bent antennae. They are known to have 6 legs and stingers.

Life Cycle

Workers may live 30 to 180 days depending on their size and work. Queens may live two to six years. The complete lifecycle from egg to adult takes between 22 and 38 days

Food & Water

Fire ants are omnivorous. They eat meats, greasy and sweet materials. The fire ant worker’s diet includes insects, earthworms, ticks, spiders, arthropod eggs, honeydew and other types of sweets.

Social Behaviour

The fire ants colonies are set up by single queens -the colony can expand to thousands of individuals. Queens are known to be very aggressive and can violently attack if their nests are disturbed. Fire ants can work together to kill any small animal by biting and spraying acid on the wounds.

Nesting

Fire ants are mostly found nesting near moist areas. Their nests are not easy to locate because it will be hidden under objects such as timber, rocks, logs, pavers, bricks, etc.

Health Risks

The fire ant sting injects toxic alkaloid venom called solenopsin. Humans, when bitten by fire ants, feel a sensation like when burned by fire. The sting can be deadly to sensitive individuals and small animals.

Black garden ant with a spider's mandibles

Lasius Niger (Black Garden Ant), This One A Queen Still With Its Wings. Shortly After This Photo Was Taken, The Queen Tore Off Its Wings
Lasius Niger (queen). Shortly Before Taking This Picture, She Tore Off Her Wings.

Lasius Niger (wingless queen)

Lasius Niger Nest
Lasius Niger (Black Garden Ant), This One A Queen Still With Its Wings. Shortly After This Photo Was Taken, The Queen Tore Off Its WingsLasius Niger (queen). Shortly Before Taking This Picture, She Tore Off Her Wings.Lasius Niger Nest

Identification & Physical Description

Queen phenotype 9 mm long, glossy black color but appears to have slight brown stripes on her abdomen. The queen can reach 6-9mm in length and is smaller than a new queen. After a queen mates, she removes her wings and digests her wing muscles as food over the winter.

Male phenotype 3.5–4.5 mm long, slim, colour black. Only produced by queens when the nuptial flights are approaching. They appear with a dark glossy body with a different shape from the workers, almost resembling a wasp in appearance. They have wing muscles which stand out from the rest of the body. They are 5-7mm long and have delicate wings.

Worker phenotype 3–5 mm long, workers are dark glossy black. As the colony gets older it has been known for workers to increase in size over generations.

Major phenotype Lasius niger do not create a major caste.

Life Cycle

Worker ants live for at least four years, queens can survive for almost 30 years.

Food & Water

Black garden ants are not picky eaters, they are known to eat anything from leftovers, soft fruits, seeds, to other small insects.

Social Behaviour

After emerging, the worker ants immediately begin to expand the nests and care for the queen.

Nesting

The garden ant is known to nest underground under stones, but also in rotten wood, and under roots.

Health Risks

Garden ants can carry bacteria and might transfer them to food or an open wound. Potential diseases include E. coli, Streptococcus, Shigella, Salmonella,and Staphylococcus

Profile View Of Ant Ochetellus Glaber
Profile View Of Ant Ochetellus Glaber
Mouthparts Of O. Glaber Worker
Mouthparts Of O. Glaber Worker
Profile View Of Ant Ochetellus GlaberMouthparts Of O. Glaber WorkerMouthparts Of O. Glaber Worker

Identification & Physical Description

Black house ants are Shiny and black in color and are about 2.5 – 3mm long. The antenna has 12 segments.

Life Cycle

Black ants have 4 stages of life (egg – larva – pupa – adult). There are 3 different castes of adults: Male: (has wings) the male’s job is to mate with the queen Female: (has wings) until mating. They are the largest in body size. Worker: (no wings) is sterile. Soldiers usually live for about 1 year.

Food & Water

Black ants are omnivores and will eat just about anything, including other insects, sweets, melons, vegetables, plant secretions, and grease.

Social Behaviour

These ants travel in trails in search of food. They live in large colonies but are very easy to eradicate, as you can follow the trail and destroy the nest.

Nesting

You will find them nesting underground or in gaps in walls and beside pathways.

Health Risks

Black ants crawl around a lot and could potentially pick up different types of germs germs including E. coli and deposit them on your food.

Profile View Of Pavement Ant
Profile View Of Pavement Ant
Battle Between Pavement Ant Colonies On Sidewalk
Profile View Of Pavement AntBattle Between Pavement Ant Colonies On Sidewalk

Identification & Physical Description

Pavement ants are dark brown to black in color and are about 1/8 inch long.

Life Cycle

Pavement ants live Up to 5 years.

Food & Water

Pavement ants feed on a wide variety of food including Sweets, nectar, fruits and syrups ,Grease and dead insects

Social Behaviour

The colonies are usually easy to find due to piles of displaced soil on top of pavement. When Indoors, pavement ants nest under the foundation.

Nesting

They usually nest in cracks in driveways and sidewalks.

Health Risks

These black pavement ants do not pose a public health risk, but they can contaminate food

Carpenter Ant, Camponotus Sp.
Carpenter Ant, Camponotus Sp.

Carpenter ant, Camponotus sp.

Carpenter Ant Cleaning Antennae
Carpenter Ants Carrying A Dead Bee
Camponotus_sp_Tanaemyrmex

A major worker of Camponotus sp.

Holes_in_a_tree_from_carpenter_ants

Holes in a tree from carpenter ants

Carpenter Ant, Camponotus Sp.Carpenter Ant Cleaning AntennaeCarpenter Ants Carrying A Dead BeeCamponotus_sp_TanaemyrmexHoles_in_a_tree_from_carpenter_ants

Identification & Physical Description

Carpenter ants are up to 1/2 cm in length. Most species are often black. They produce an unpleasant smell (formic acid) when disturbed.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of a carpenter ant is 6 to 12 weeks from egg to adult. however, Cold weather can stretch the development time of carpenter ants up to 10 months.

Food & Water

Carpenter ants feed on proteins such as meats and pet food. In Terms of sugary foods they are attracted to syrup, honey, granulated sugar and jelly

Social Behaviour

Carpenter ants feed their own by regurgitating food which could have antimicrobial activity which will later be spread among the members of the colony.

Nesting

They usually nest outside in dead, damp wood, building smooth, distinctive-looking nests.

Health Risks

Carpenter ants can damage wood which results in structural damage. They do not pose any health risk to humans.

How ant pest control works

Control  measures

Flick inspector/ technician will undertake a thorough inspection of the property during his routine service call to determine what control measures would be put in place that will control the ant infestation. The treatment would entail offering regular follow up services to the garden areas- which includes either a spray insecticide application to the garden, all lawn areas, flower beds and nests within the paved areas. Alternative application methods include a granular based application to high activity areas within the garden, along with a gel application in or around one’s home. These treatments are guaranteed between services, i.e. if there is re infestation between routine services, Flick would return at no extra charge to re treat all infested areas.

Nest holes will also be injected using this pesticide under high pressure. Due to the rapid breeding and movement of black ants, it is recommended that if one lives in a complex that the entire complex be treated simultaneously to avoid any possible cross infestation from occurring within the complex. It is essential that all residents participate and have their respective units treated when the service is due. This further will prevent black ants from cross infesting their units.

A gel application can also be used in highly infested areas or sensitive areas where spray applications cannot be undertaken. This works by way of the ants being attracted to the gel by the incorporated attractant within the gel, the ants then feed on this and further take the gel back to their nests.

All our chemicals are approved by the SABS and are applied by our service men that are registered with The Department of Agriculture.

Identifying ant infestations

ANT PATHWAYS – You may find trails of inside your home or workplace. Certain types of ants leave behind a trail of pheromones that help other ants find their way to the food or water source.

VISIBLE ANTS – You can see large numbers of ants in your home or workplace. If you spot them near food preparation areas the situation can escalate very quickly.

ANT NESTS – You find loose heaps of soil deposits.

The 3-step plan to avoiding ant infestations

Manage Access To Food & Water

Store food securely in airtight containers.

Clean up spills and debris

Clean up any spills or crumbs immediately after they occur.

Don't give them access

Fill up and seal any cracks in doors, window frames or walls.

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