Ants in Florida
There is a large number of ant species that call Florida their home. However, residents of the state are fortunate since most of them don't bother homeowners or business owners. Therefore, we will only focus on species that are the most likely to become pests or bite and sting. The most commonly encountered pest ants are:
Red Imported Fire Ants
Tawny Crazy Ants
Ants become problems around buildings and homes in many different ways. They can:
- Feed upon and contaminate food
- Invade and infest buildings by constructing nests in wall voids or under structures
- Build colonies and ant mounds in lawns and gardens
- Inflict painful, venomous bites and stings
- Build nests inside structural wood
In general, the most common ants can be grouped as:
- House-infesting ants
- Yard-infesting ants
- Carpenter ants
Florida Ant Reproduction
Ants establish new colonies by two primary methods: swarming and budding.
- Most common method of reproduction.
- Males and females leave the nest during spring, usually a few days after rainfall.
- One or more queens leave the nest to begin a new colony.
- Ants that reproduce by budding are the most challenging to control.
- Ghost ants, pharaoh ants & Argentine ants are the most common ants that reproduce by budding.
The pests' food preferences are quite variable but typically include sweets, honeydew from plants, seeds, oily substances, and insects.
Identify Ant Swarmers in FL
Ants and termite swarmers are often confused with each other. However, it's easy to tell the difference because:
- Ant swarmers have L-shaped or “elbowed” antennae, while termite antennae are straight
- Ant swarmers have narrow, constricted portions of their bodies called thread waists, while termites have broad waists without any constriction.
- The hind pair of wings are smaller than the front pair for ant swarmers, while both pairs of wings are about the same size on termite swarmers.
However, the best advice is to check with your pest management professional if you are not sure whether the specimen is a termite or ant swarmer.