Ants are tiny insects that come in various colors but most species are black, brown, red, or yellow. They have 6 legs, their body is divided into 3 segments, and they have antennae. Almost every household in Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky has dealt with ants because of warmer temperatures.
The most common ant species include acrobat, allegheny mound, argentine, bigheaded, carpenter, citronella, field, fire, ghost, harvester, moisture, odorous, pavement, pharaoh and thief. They can contaminate food and even cause property damage. Carpenter ants, for example are wood destroying insects, just like termites.
Tiny cracks are sufficient for ants to enter a home looking for food and water sources. Ants are searching for greasy or sweet residues in the kitchen or pantry. Once an ant found food a pheromone scent trail will lead others to it. Ants nest inside and outside of the house, common locations include grass, walls, tree stumps and sometimes they settle down under foundations. Ant colonies count between 300000 and 500000 individuals but show great flexibility when threatened by being able to uproot and relocate fast. While the worker’s lifespan amounts to only 7 years, the queen can grow 15 years old.
Egg, larvae, pupae, and adult are the stages of an ant’s life cycle, which is a complete metamorphosis. Environmental factors and species influence the time it takes for an ant to go through the development phases. The entire cycle can last between a few weeks and a few months. After mating, a female ant will turn into a queen, start a nest and lay eggs to grow a colony. The white or transparent oval eggs only measure about ½ mm. It takes between 1 and 2 weeks for the larvae to hatch. Larvae require a great amount of nutrition and water to grow into the next stage. Molting and shedding skin is followed by the pupae stage in which antennae and legs are tucked away close to the body. The color is generally white but become darker with age. Certain species develop inside of a cocoon. Adults are fully grown and dark in color, they can be classified as queen, worker or male. The queens’ task is to reproduce, the occupation of workers, which are all female, includes food gathering and colony protection. They take care of the nest and the offspring. Male ants have wings and their sole purpose is to mate with the queens.