🐜 What is the life cycle of ants like?
Like many insects we know, the life cycle of ants goes through a metamorphosis that goes from egg to adult. This ant metamorphosis lasts from 6 to 10 weeks and has four stages: egg, larva, chrysalis (or pupa) and adult. Ants are social insects and organize themselves in colonies. In ant colonies there are several queens, responsible for the reproduction and expansion of the colony, and worker ants, responsible for food. But that's not all. Each ant has a specific task. Foraging for food is one of them, but there are others such as ensuring the security of the colony, creating tunnels to the outside and caring for the larvae. The way these functions are delegated depends on the age of each ants. Younger ants take care of the queen and the colony, and the older ones are left with the most risky tasks: looking for food outside. Ants communicate through pheromones, leaving a trail for those that follow. And when they feel attacked? Well, in that case most ants sting and release formic acid to defend themselves against the enemy, but the consequences of the sting vary according to the ant species.
What types of ants are there?
Currently, around 18,000 species of ants are registered, spread across the various regions of the globe. In Portugal, there are at least 163 species, but not all of them are pests. When we talk about plague of ants, these are the most common in Portugal.
➡️ Black Ant:
With a length of between 3 to 5 millimeters, the black ant is everywhere — especially if there are sweet foods, proteins and fats. It is considered omnivorous, since it feeds on animal and vegetable products. In most cases, the anthills of this species are housed in gardens, but it is possible to find them inside houses, in damp and dark places.
➡️ Ant Pharaoh
The pharaoh ant (known as the sugar ant) is brown, sometimes slightly yellowish, and about 2 millimeters long. Unlike the black ant, this species prefers to build the anthill inside rather than outside, being common to find them near windows, in electronic equipment or at the bottom of household appliances. This proximity to humans, combined with the speed of reproduction, makes this type of ant one of the most harmful to our health. We often find this pest in hospitals, nursing homes, apartments, hotels and supermarkets.
➡️ Ant Argentina
The color of the Argentine ant varies between light and dark brown and can reach 6 millimeters in length. As a rule, this species of ant looks for water and sweet food, and is often confused with the pharaoh ant. Argentine ant colonies have several queens, which makes them very difficult to exterminate without the right products.
What attracts ants?
Where there is food, there are likely to be ants. Ants look for food through olfactory receptors, which means they mostly appear in the kitchen or garden. They are attracted by sugars and meats, but also by flowers and leaves, which makes this a very common pest and difficult to avoid. The plague of ants is more evident in summer and, despite being apparently harmless, these little animals are capable of destroying agricultural production and contaminating food with microbes, fungi, germs or bacteria.
How to deal with the ant pest at home and in the garden?
The first step in starting an ant disinfestation is to discover the source of the problem. Anthills live on all types of surfaces. Find the ant trail but don't eliminate it: follow it. Eliminating the trail will not solve the problem with the colony and the ants will reappear.
🏡 Keep ants away at home:
Some common places are carpets (between the carpet and the floor), sockets, window openings and all damp areas of the house. It is possible that there is more than one colony and many times we manage to find the small holes that constitute the entrance and exit of the anthill.
🪴 Keep ants away from the garden:
The process is similar, but identifying an outdoor ant pest can be more difficult. Look for ant trails near your pots or crops and follow them to find out where they come from. If you have an irrigation source in your garden, ants are likely to choose that area for their colony. Outdoors, it is common for ants to appear during the night.
Once you've identified the source of the pest, the next step is disinfestation. There are several disinfestation companies that you can turn to, but there are also ways to deal with the problem by your own hands. With the right products, you can prevent the appearance of this pest or eliminate it if it is already too late for prevention. Discover the best ant disinfestation solution here .