When Marching Ants Attack

October 31, 2019

“The Ants Go Marching” may be a simple kiddie song, but as homeowners, we would not want ants to go marching towards - or inside - the house.  For what’s next would surely be disastrous.

 According to the ant exterminator in North Carolina, most of us would probably agree that ants are among the most revered insects on earth. Ants symbolize hard work and working as a team. Ants are best left alone in the forest, where they thrive and act as beneficial insects. 

But what happens when ants get past their borders and get near human dwellings. What if these ants go marching towards your home, right in your personal space? Will you still appreciate their hard work, getting as much food as they can from your table?


There are more than 10,000 species of ants, and they can be found all throughout the world, except in Antarctica. Ants belong to the insect order Hymenoptera with Formicidae is their scientific name, and are close relatives of the bees and wasps - not the termites as people confuse them with. Their size range from .08 to 1 inch and are omnivores, meaning they can eat a wide variety of foods. Most of their species are actually found in the tropical forests, where they make up around half of the insect population. The seemingly millions you see in your house is just seeing the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

All through their lives, ants go through a complete metamorphosis. The ant eggs are tiny and oval in shape. After the eggs hatch, they become larvae, which do not look like their adult counterparts at all.  Larvae are not mobile and they look like worms. They have no eyes and no legs. They eat regurgitated food coming from adults. When the larvae reach a certain size, they spin a cocoon around themselves and pupates. They would then emerge as adults. 

Ants are notable for their social behavior. No single ant lives for itself but works to ensure that its colony survives.  This is their most endearing quality, something that humans continually study.

The Makeup Of The Ant Colony

In an ant colony, there is no such thing as a "king". A colony is led by a queen. The queen ant’s role is to lay as many eggs as she can. Some species can lay millions. The queen has wings, which she would eventually shed when they find a suitable site to start a new colony.  A colony may have one or more queens, depending on the species of ants. A queen can live for years and can have millions of offspring.  If a queen dies, the colony can survive for only a few months, unless there are other queens in the colony. The rest of the female ants in the colony are sterile so they are not capable of laying eggs. The end of the colony is when the queen and the rest of the ants die off. 

The male ants are the queen’s partners. They only need to fulfill a single role, which is to mate with the queen. After mating, they die soon after.

The worker ants are female sterile ants. They are almost similar to the queen physically, only smaller. Among their various roles include protecting the colony, foraging for food, feeding the colony, keeping the nest clean, caring for the newly hatched ants, protecting the nest, and attacking other colonies to get food. They also ten to kidnap the eggs of the other ant colonies to be raised as their own. Once these captured eggs hatch, they will eventually become slave ants for the colony.  

Ant colonies can last as long as there are queens.  At times, when ants feel there is a threat, they vacate their current spot and relocate to a safer place. They also relocate when they can longer find any more food sources in the area to go find a new food source. As household pests, this is certainly troublesome for homeowners because that makes it difficult to control them.

Ants Are Pests When They Get Near Human Dwellings

How many times have you had to worry about food being placed on top of the dining table because ants may soon find their way there?  We always worry about a piece of cake, or a slice of apple pie, being swarmed by hundreds of ants, thus making them not fit for eating. Ants send out patrollers to look for food. Once the patroller finds a food source, it sends out pheromones that would signal to the other ants that food has been found and that they should come. It is like a human sending a text blast to his friends. It seems like we always have to play tug of war with these ants over food that is actually ours, inside our own house! 

Another thing that is worrying about ants crawling on our food is that they might be carrying several bacteria and viruses because they crawl all over the place. You would not know if the ants crawling on your food just came from the garbage bin outside.

There is also the problem of ant bites. Ants bite even without provocation, and these bites are painful. Some bites can even kill, like those of the dreaded fire ants.

One surprising fact about ants is that they are capable of inflicting more structural damage than termites.  

Common Types Of Ants 

1. Carpenter ants - Since their choice of a nesting site is wood, carpenter ants are considered very destructive. They build nests inside damp and deadwood. This makes the wood in homes and buildings very attractive to them. That is also why they can cause huge structural damages, and can even beat the termites in terms of most damages caused. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat wood.They just boreholes on it, building tunnels. Look for them in certain parts of the house, like the area around the windows, roof eaves, and porches.These areas are damp and are the most exposed to moisture. In the forests, they are ecologically helpful because they have this capacity to excavate wood.This helps in the decomposition of organic matter in the forests. 

2. Crazy ants -  They are called crazy ants because they will move around crazily without direction when disturbed. Though they do not bite, they are considered. Crazy ants can crawl long distances in search of food. They can live both indoors and outdoors, building nests in either place. They can choose from dry or damp sites for their nests. You can usually find them in hollow trees, rotten wood, under stones, under logs, among the rubbish, and in debris

3. Argentine ants - Argentine ants enter a house in search of food and water, making them a real nuisance. These ants will set up their nests on the ground, in cracks on the wall, and in holes in the house. Outdoors, they live under rocks, or among leaf litter. Argentine ants are not capable of digging deep in the ground to build nests.  However, they are opportunistic and will dwell in abandoned ants’ nests.  

4. European fire ants - European fire ants are one of the world’s most invasive ant species. They nest in gardens, lawns, under the rock, or wood debris. Inside the house, during the cold months, they are found in the bathroom, under the bathtubs, or in the heaters.They sting when disturbed and their stings are very painful. Inside their colony, there are multiple queens.

5. Field ants -  Field ants build their nests in yards, wooded areas, and fields. A sign that you may have field ants in the yard is the presence of a mound that is about 12 inches in diameter. They also nest under stones, logs, under timber, and porch slabs. They are 4 to 8 mm long and come in black, brown, or red colors. They are usually found outdoors and rarely invade homes.

How To Get Rid Of These Pests

When ants get inside your home, they can really be annoying. You must always be on the alert because they can act swiftly when there is food. There are several effective ways to get rid of ants. Here are some of the things you can do:  

1. Practice good housekeeping. Wipe off food residue and drink spills, especially those that are sweet.

2. Seal off cracks and openings by caulking. These could be used as possible entry points by the ants.  

3. Put leftover food inside sealed containers so as not to attract ants. 

4. Sprinkle some diatomaceous earth around areas where you usually see the ants.  Diatomaceous earth is made from fossilized remains of diatoms. They are like little shards of glass so it can cause several cuts on the ants body when they crawl on it, causing them to bleed to death. Choose food grade diatomaceous earth so that it will be safe around kids and pets. You can purchase this from a local gardening store near you.

If you have ant infestation problems that are too much to handle already, then call the exterminator with great reviews near Cary NC, Go-Forth Pest Control.

Residents and businesses alike in North Carolina trust only one name: Go-Forth Pest Control since they have been in this business for more than 50 years now.

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