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I bring up the topic of our little six-legged pest-friends commonly known as ants. The most common ant specie encountered in Gauteng and South Africa is the Argentine ant, because I myself, as a pest control professional have seen an increase in their numbers even in my own property due to the lack of rainfall experienced over this dry season, and this has also been a trend we have seen with our own customers on a daily basis with enquiries about clients having been engaged in their own  lengthy battle to try maintain and deter ants successfully themselves, but most have failed and have contacted us for assistance.

The drought situation and battle with ants is not only restricted to Gauteng or South Africa for that matter, but has even been seen and further studies have taken place in California in the USA against the same species of ant- The Argentinian ant.

The study was undertaken by a well know University in California over a drought they experienced in the San Francisco and the Bay area last year, extending along the west coast from Oregon all the way down to Mexico- and it appears that they were studying the growth of colonies of ants moving up the west coast to San Francisco with super colonies invading various suburbs in urban areas which has been going on for the last 50 years, and the conclusion was that what brought the ants in and what took the ants out of dwellings was the weather itself and no other external factors.

These ants don’t have a liking for wet, cold and extremely dry hot weather conditions, where they take opportunities in both winter and summer months to invade dwellings or buildings in search of water and nourishment.

What I have found here in Gauteng is that we have had an increase in ant numbers in different areas across the province, and it goes back to how little rainfall we got from winter, through spring and now into the warmer summer months. This lack of rain means the ant eggs have not been kept in check and destroyed by heavy rains, as ants relocate their colonies during really wet times when a lot of rainfall is encountered which can destroy ant eggs and thus reduce their numbers.

The opposite is occurring where ants are actively searching for water and are going indoors more and thus their colonies are on the increase and when our first proper rains arrive in Gauteng, this will cause a hive of ant activity


Unusual ant biology

Ants are social insects and have an unusual biology, and thus are another reason why the Argentine ant populations are so difficult to control is because of their unusual biology.

“Unlike other species, Argentine ants have many queens, and the workers can go back to any nest, so it’s impossible to kill off a colony by killing off one queen,”

Good housekeeping practises along with introducing and effective control programme will aid to control marauding ants during cycles of rain and also drought- which Gauteng is currently facing.

Conventional proofing solutions go hand in hand with a control programme- this includes plugging up holes in walls where ants might enter to prevent an ant trails once they arrive. We also recommend building water moats around pet food. If you put your cat bowl on a plate with soapy water, the ants won’t be able to get across it.

Natural remedies don’t work to control ants effectively as ants are mostly blind and the reason they’re following each other into your premises in the commonly seen ant trail is because other ants have left behind a trail of a pheromone-like substance that tells them there may be food ahead. The more ants that follow the trail, the stronger the “scent” becomes and you end up with a hundred of them gnawing at a grain of rice that fell on the floor.

Therefore cleanliness and good hygiene practises do assist at the end of the day with Argentine ant invasions. The insects might go after leftovers on your dining room table, but it’s the weather — not only the food — that brings them into your home or building in the first place.

In closing, the good news about ants is that they don’t carry diseases, and even if they are ugly or nuisance and seem “gross” to look at, they do not actually contaminate your kitchen counter or dining table as they traipse across it.

Author: Stuart Steele

Drought Problems: Have You Seen A Major increase In Ants?

“Remember One Flick and they are gone”