Army Ant Facts & Information

Protect your home or business from army ants by learning techniques for identification and control.

Ecitoninae spp.
Oval-shaped abdomen
2 scissor-like mandibles

Treatment

How do I get rid of army ants?

What Orkin Does

If you suspect army ants have invaded your property, do not delay in calling your pest management professional for advice and assistance. In addition to performing the direct pest control work needed, your pest management professional will also provide some preventive control tips for excluding ants from your home, including:

  • Cleanliness: Regularly clean and remove potential food sources.

  • Exclusion: Keep out ant foragers by sealing and screening places where ants can get inside to establish a new colony or forage for food. Exclusion is especially important on the foundation of your home.

  • Landscaping: Keep mulch away from the foundation and never let your landscaping plants contact the side of the house.

Your local Orkin technician is trained to help manage army ants and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique ant treatment program for your situation. Orkin can provide the right solution to keep army ants in their place…out of your home, or business.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Understanding Army Ants

Appearance

  • Abdomen: Their abdomens are oval-shaped, and the stinger is located in this body segment.

  • Head: Army ant heads consist of eyes, mouthparts, and antennae. They use their antennae to smell, touch, and communicate with each other.

  • Mouth: Mouths consist of two jaws, or mandibles, which resemble scissors.

  • Thorax: An army ant's thorax is located between the head and abdomen, and is connected to the abdomen by joints known as nodes.

Behavior

Army ants are carnivorous, nomadic, and aggressive. They attack freely, eat without discrimination, migrate to locate food sources, and maintain a complex social hierarchy.

Diet

Their primary food source is other species of ants. Adult army ants are unable to eat solid items and ingest only liquids.

Colonies

Colonies of army ants consist of a queen, workers, and soldiers. Workers are infertile females and are unable to establish their own colonies. Instead, they forage for food, bringing prey into their nests. Smaller army ant workers also tend to the queen’s eggs, while the soldier ants defend the nest. A single colony can contain up to 24 million individual ants.

Nests

Army ants typically nest in trees above the ground but also can form a bivouac, creating a nest from the bodies of the ants themselves. During this process, they use their claws and mandibles to attach themselves to one another, forming protecting walls to safeguard their queen and larvae. This structure is temporary and disassembles when the army ants mobilize.

Habitat

Unlike other ant species, army ants are known to be nomadic, making temporary nests while traveling from one location to the next. During the nomadic stage, they march at night and stop to rest in daylight. This nomadic stage may last several days.

Geographic Range

There are over 200 species of army ants that exist worldwide. They are found in the southern United States, but are more common in Central America, South America, Africa, and parts of Asia. Army ants thrive primarily in tropical areas and are common in:

  • Deserts

  • Mountain heights

  • Lowland tropical forests

  • Rainforests

  • Scrub forests

  • Swamp areas

  • Volcanic islands

Reproduction

Queen's Role

Reproduction is the role of the colony’s queen who produces a cyclic brood of immatures. Queens are large, without wings, and never leave the colony. Queen army ants will mate with multiple males and may produce up to 4 million eggs per month in a healthy colony

Egg Laying

The queen’s reproductive cycle controls both migratory and stationary stages of the army ants. When they have collected enough food, they begin their stationary phase and create temporary nests. They remain stationary for two to four weeks, during which time the fertilized queen lays up to 30,000 eggs each day.

Larvae

At this point, larvae from the previous stationary stage begin to spin cocoons, becoming pupae, and then adults. As the population of the colony increases, army ants once again enter the migratory stage.

Lifespan

The army ant queen and her colony can survive up to 20 years. However, male drones will die soon after mating with the queen, and workers survive only one year.

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