In a previous blog, pharmacy we looked at the two most common pest ants found in New Jersey, viagra Pavement Ants and Carpenter Ants. While these two species are most frequently encountered there are a host of other ant species that homeowners may come in contact with, some native to New Jersey and others imported to the area or moving into human environments only recently. As I’ve mentioned before, the overwhelming majority of ants are not pests and are hugely beneficial. Here’s a short list of the creepy crawly, not-so-usual suspects.
New Jersey residents can expect to encounter the Odorous House Ant (Tapinoma sessile) at some point. Odorous House Ants got their name from the odor emitted by individuals when crushed, a sweet “rotten-coconut” like smell. This particular species of ant is a rising star among structurally infesting and species in the Northeast and have been seen more and more often in structures. This ant, although closely related to Argentine Ants is native to the US and can most commonly be found nesting outdoors, beneath a large stone or within a rotting log.
Odorous House Ants have a colony structure similar to Carpenter Ants in that they have several nest locations. Larger colonies of OHAs will actually have several queens. One of the biggest problems Pest Control Professionals or Do-It-Yourselfers have in dealing with this multiple nest/ multiple queen species of Ant is how the ants respond to treatment attempts or changes in the environment. Colonies have been known to separate and relocate when treated with repellents or liquid sprays. OHAs have a high affinity for moisture and will very easily set themselves up behind a moist wall in a bathroom. Odorous House Ants have a small, efficient and mobile colony structure that allows them to stay one step ahead of treatment efforts.
A find more rare in New Jersey than a Odorous House Ant would be the Pharaoh Ant (Monomorium pharaonis). As the name might indicate, Pharaoh ants were first described in Egypt and were found within ancient burial structures. Ever since the original identification of the species, pharaoh ants have been introduced globally, with specimens recorded on every continent. There was a Pharaoh ant infestation reported on McMurdo Sound, Antarctica several years ago, making the Pharaoh Ant the first pest insect to successfully invade Antarctica.
Pharaoh Ants have a very unique colony structure. While it has some elements in common with Odorous House Ants, like multiple Queens, but to a drastic extreme. While other ant species might have a single queen, or maybe a handful, a healthy Pharaoh Ant colony may have hundreds of queens! Most ant colonies will have thousands of workers per queen, Pharaoh Ants have less than 15 workers per queen. Not only is the reproductive potential of a Pharaoh ant colony enormous, its mobility and versatility means it is very hard to control. Pharaoh Ant colonies reproduce themselves through a phenomena known as budding. If a colony is under duress or faces harsh conditions they will simply split up and move to another area. This behavior allows an existing ant colony to relocate into a new area without having to wait for a colony to grow from scratch, almost like a turnkey Ant Franchise!
While there are no major ant invasions in our immediate future, residents of southern New Jersey may be dealing with Imported Fire Ants in a few decades. Red Imported Fire Ants (Solenopsis invicta) are known for their burning sting and strong jaws which they use in conjunction to inflict thousands of bites/stings to anyone unlucky enough to disturb a nest. Although Fire Ants are confined to the southern half of the US, they have been spreading north and east for decades, current rate of spread would have the Red Imported Fire Ant entering southern New Jersey within the next 25 to 30 years. The high sand content of the soil and the similarity of the environment to areas where Fire Ants already inhabit like Virginia and the Carolinas would make infesting New Jersey almost a certainty over time.
While residents of New Jersey can rest easy in the knowledge that Red Imported Fire Ants have not arrived yet, they are not completely free from the threat of stinging ants. All ants will work in conjunction should the nest be threatened and some of our native breeds are capable of easily stinging or biting. Fortunately, a few pavement ant stings might be a painful reminder of the close relationship of ants to wasps, New Jersey residents can rest easy. The more notable, and more scary ants like the Bullet Ant from Australia, the South American Army Ant or the dreaded African Siafu Ant are residents of different countries and can only be seen on television here in the US.
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