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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 Pharaohs ant is the specie that does 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.
Ants are closely related to wasps, as can be seen in their similar body structures- the abdomen is joined to the thorax by a slender stalk, or pedicel. The pedicel may be enlarged into one or two knobs. The antennae are typically elbowed or jointed in the middle. Some species of ants possess a functional sting that the workers use to defend the colony or themselves. Many species secrete formic acid, a potent repellent. The jaws of worker ants are used for many tasks, including defence, nest building and larval care. The form of jaws is often very specific to the type of work done by the particular worker.
|Black Ant||Queen Ant|
The four life stages of an ant are egg, larva, pupa and adult. The minute white or yellowish eggs are laid by the queen they hatch in two to six weeks and develop into white larvae, or grubs. After feeding a few weeks to several months, larvae become pupae, commonly but incorrectly called ant eggs. In some species the pupae are naked; in others, they are covered with cocoons spun from a substance that they secrete at the end of the larval stage. Queens and workers of some species are known to live longer than 15 years. Most ants are much shorter lived, living for only a few months.
1. The queen lays eggs
2. The workers look after the larvae
3. The larvae become pupae
4. Adult ants emerge from the pupae
All ants are social, living together in extended families of a few individuals in primitive species to half a million or more in the army ants. Ant colonies are characterized by two classes of individuals, reproductive and non reproductive. The queen and the male ants are reproductive. They have wings and can fly, although males die shortly after mating and queens lose their wings when they begin their own colonies. As in other hymenopterans, males arise from unfertilized eggs. Fertilized eggs develop into females, most of which are workers; in many species, workers are wingless and do not reproduce. Workers gather food, care for the young and defend the colony. Division of labour may occur among workers, based on physical and behavioural differences. This is called polymorphism. In polymorphic species, the largest workers are usually soldiers; they may be equipped with oversized, muscular heads and swollen like jaws. Medium sized workers are foragers, and the smallest workers are nurse ants that tend to the young. In some species, certain workers are extremely specialized.
Many ants practice trophalaxis, which involves reciprocal feeding between individuals and the exchange of chemicals that trigger certain behavior. For example, larval ants secrete a substance that is highly attractive to nurse ants- this is thought to stimulate brood care and may be an important basis for colony unity. Other chemical signals, including pheromones, are very important in the social biology of ants. Ants that enter ones home are worker ants. They communicate with others by means of a pheromone, and a deposit of this pheromone is what leads the ants to form trails. Small ants have a wide variety of feeding habits. Some feed on sugar or starch substances, while others feed on grease or protein.
The nests of many species of ants commonly consists of chambers and galleries excavated under stones, logs or under ground; some species construct their nests in mounds of earth and vegetable matter or in decayed trees or hollow twigs or thorns. In an urban environment black ants will construct their nests in drive ways, flower beds, lawn areas and commonly against the walls of one’s house or garage.
The most common sighting is the ant trails they form when they are feeding and nesting. They are attracted to homes and buildings due to the presence of a water and food source. In summer when they are their most active, one will find loose heaps of soil deposits in or around the structure, which is a sign of them nesting. Their soil deposits do not look the same as subterranean termites, which are mud like tubes.
Black ants infest houses, buildings and any structure that has a potential food and water source, and are very common in kitchens and bathrooms.
They pose no threat to the structure of one’s home, but due to their nesting habits they can be quite destructive in ones paving, where they will nest and cause paving to be uneven or collapse in severe cases. Pharaoh’s ants further pose a threat to one’s health as they can harbour various pathogens due to the habitats they inhabit.
A 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
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