Legend:

Good
Bad

Get to know the Argentine Ant

(Linepithema humile)

Appearance

  • Argentine Ant workers are small dark or medium brown ants with smooth shiny bodies.
  • The jaws have 5 – 8 large teeth and 5 – 13 smaller serrations.
  • The head is a droplet shape with the widest point above the eyes.
  • Argentine worker ants are about 2mm – 3mm.
  • The queen ants are about 6mm – 8mm.

Life cycle

  • Argentine ant colonies almost always have many reproductive queens, as many as 8 for every 1,000 workers.
  • The queens very rarely or never disperse in winged form, instead, colonies reproduce by budding off into new units.
  • As few as 10 workers and a single queen can establish a new colony, colonies are established late winter or early spring.
  • The eggs of Argentine ants are elliptical (oval) in outline (in shape), pearly-white in colour.
  • Argentine ants take from 12 days to almost 2 months to hatch. The larval stage may be completed in 11 – 60 days. The pupae period may be extended to over 10 – 25 days.
    The minimum period from egg to adult is around 1 month, but it may take up to 4 – 5 months.

Habitat

  • Argentine ants are found in many habitats including urban areas, forests, grasslands, river catchments, shrub lands, farmland, coastland and wetlands.
  • Argentine ant may consume a large amount of invertebrate prey, putting prey species at risk of population decline, and indirectly threatening native predatory insects (native invertebrate such as the native paper wasps and spiders) by using competitive pressures on them, this may also include native reptile species.
  • Argentine ants compete extremely well with all other ant species, both by fighting and by dominating all available food sources, almost all other ants are replaced by Argentine ants.
  • Argentine ants are typically found travelling in well-defined trails between nests and food sources.

Bad – Argentine ants are highly invasive and one of the world’s worst pest ant species. They will displace most native ants from their habitat. Argentine ants harm agricultural crops by protecting insect pests such as aphids and scale insects from predators. Argentine ants protect these pest insects to harvest the sugary honeydew they extract from plants and trees. Throughout this whole process, the plants or trees are being deprived of its nutrients which could lead to poor plant health.

Control

  • Most ants are scavengers, there are more likely to infest a house or property if hygiene is poor, sanitation is very important.
  • Keep inside and outside of properties food particles free.
  • Wash up and clean all areas where food is prepared or consumed, these areas may include kitchen benches, shelves, draws, floors, tables and chairs.
  • Outdoor areas should also be free of any types of food sources e.g. bones, left over pet food or BBQ.
  • Sap-sucking or pest insects on plants may aid to support and encourage a range of any ant species. Treating these pest insects will reduce the infestations of ants.

Chemical Control

Before using a chemical method, it is best that a thorough inspection be carried out by following trails, particularly where ants are carrying food back to the nest. Direct treatment of the nest, where possible, can provide the most effective long term control. Where a nest cannot be located, a residual barrier can be applied to cracks and crevices where the ants are traveling to the food source. These chemicals come in the forms of liquid or dust.

Always follow product labels to ensure appropriate use.

Get to know the Bull Ant

(Myrmecia Sp.)

Appearance

  • Bull ants are large, alert and can grow up to 40 mm in length.
  • They have large eyes and long, slender mandibles (jaws) and a potent venom-packed sting.
  • They have excellent vision, able to watch, track and follow any potential threat to their nest from a distance of 1 – 2 metres.
  • Many species of bull ants have bright red or orange colours on the head or abdomen.
  • Almost every bull ant is born female.

Life cycle

  • The bull ant’s life cycle is from egg – larva – pupa – adult.
  • Eggs take around three to four months to fully develop in to adult.
  • The eggs hatch into small grubs which grow into a respective caste, most are workers and/or soldiers and will stay in that role their entire lives.
  • A queen bull ant may live for several years.

Habitat

  • Bull ants are found throughout Australia.
  • Bull ants live in urban areas, nature reserves and parks.
  • Like most ants, bull ants live in colonies. Nests are generally found in the ground or under a rock.
  • Bull ants collect nectar and plant sap. They also collect insect prey which are carried back to the nest for food.
  • Bull ant nests are generally underground and often have small and/or hidden entrances. The nests can extend several metres below the ground.
  • The bull ant will defend their nest by attacking intruders of any size. Bull ants also have excellent vision and will follow or chase an intruder a good distance from the nest.

Good – The bull ant is native to Australia. They are beneficial to the environment as they control pest insects e.g. cockroaches, some beetle species, earwigs and aphids.

Danger to humans and first aid

These ants can deliver painful stings and are aggressive. An ice pack or commercially available spray may be used to relieve the pain of the sting. If there is evidence of an allergic reaction, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Control

  • Most ants are scavengers, there are more likely to infest a house or property if hygiene is poor, sanitation is very important.
  • Keep inside and outside of properties food particles free.
  • wash up and clean all areas where food is prepared or consumed, these areas may include kitchen benches, shelves, draws, floors, tables and chairs.
  • Outdoor areas should also be free of any types of food sources e.g. bones, left over pet food or BBQ.
  • Sap-sucking or pest insects on plants may aid to support and encourage a range of any ant species. Treating these pest insects will reduce the infestations of ants.

Chemical Control

If the control measures above are unsuccessful and the ants are becoming a nuisance, then a chemical method can be applied.

Before using a chemical method, it is best that a thorough inspection be carried out by following trails, particularly where ants are carrying food back to the nest. Direct treatment of the nest, where possible, can provide the most effective long term control. Where a nest cannot be located, a residual barrier can be applied to cracks and crevices where the ants are traveling to the food source. These chemicals come in the forms of liquid or dust.

Always follow product labels to ensure appropriate use.

 

Get to know the Fire Ant

(Solenopsis invicta)

Appearance

  • The Fire ant is a small ant, between 2-6mm long (each nest contains various sizes of ants’ dependent on their role in the nest).
  • The head and body of a fire ant is a coppery to reddish brown in colour and the abdomen is darker.
  • In NSW, the fire ant can be confused with the common coastal brown ant but can be distinguished by the fire ant’s aggressive behaviour.

Life cycle

  • New colonies start when alate queens and drones commence mating flights, after this time, the male dies and the queen goes on to start a new colony.
  • Queen lays between 10-20 eggs within the first 24 hours.
  • The eggs hatch in 6-10 days and then more eggs are laid by the queen.
  • Within 1 month, first workers’ hatch, forage for food and tend to the queen and larvae. (The Queens only purpose is to continue laying eggs)
  • The fire ant’s life cycle is from egg-larva-pupa-adult. Fire ants have four larvae stages before they develop into adults.
  • Eggs take around 3-5 months to fully develop into adult.
  • The eggs hatch into small grubs and then become adult worker ants. As the workers age, their role changes to that of colony maintenance, sanitation and defence.
  • The average life span of a worker ant is 5 weeks.
  • A mature colony will produce alates within 6-12 months.
  • In ideal conditions, queens have been known to live up to 7 years.

Habitat

  • Fire ants are native to the South America. Fire ants build a dirt nest/mound which can be up to 40 cm high. The size and shape of the nest varies depending on the soil type and colony size.
  • Nests can develop under logs, rocks or other materials lying on the ground.
  • The entry and exit holes of a nest are concealed. The ants enter and leave the mound through underground tunnels, can be up to 30cm long, and radiate outwards from the nest.
  • Fire ants are omnivorous, eating plant material, insects and small animals. They will also scavenge dead animals.
  • Fire ants appear to be attracted to electricity, and nests have been found in buildings and equipment around electrical systems.
  • A mature fire ant colony can contain between 200,000 to 400,000 workers.

Bad – Fire ants are a serious pest as they have the potential to cause major social, environmental and economic impact across the world. Fire ants have the potential to inhabit most of the major coastal areas of Australia, and extensive areas of the tropical north. Vast areas of the continent’s natural environment, including world heritage areas and national parks, are prone to fire ant invasion.

Fire ants are very aggressive and are voracious feeders, feeding on small ground fauna such as insects, spiders, frogs, lizards, birds and mammals. Fire ants may displace or eliminate some of Australia’s unique flora and fauna species.

Danger to humans and first aid

Fire ants swarm to attack and sting repeatedly.

If a nest is disturbed, the workers may very quickly move the queen and the brood (eggs, larvae and pupae) to a new location and will quickly attack to defend the nest.

Fire ants are a menace because of their sting. Fire ants are very small and move very quickly, by the time they sting, a large number of ants are already on your body. Stings from fire ants can cause a painful, burning itching sensation, this sensation can last for up to an hour. Multiple stings give the sensation that the body is on fire.

Pets and domestic animals can also be stung and injured and may have allergic reactions or be blinded by exposure to the venom.

If stung by fire ants:

  • Apply an ice pack or cold compress to relieve the swelling and pain.
  • Gently wash the affected area with soap and water and leave the blister/s intact. (There is a risk of secondary infection if the blisters or pustules, that result from the sting/s, are broken)
  • If you are allergic to insect stings or experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, seek immediate medical attention.

Control

Alert: Be on the lookout for Fire ants and report them to Bio-security Queensland and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.

Early detection and reporting are the key elements in eradicating Fire ant.

Call Queensland Government on 13 25 23

Fire ant forms and notifications

 Call New South Wales Government, Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881

NSW Department Primary Industries Pest Alert

 

 

Get to know the Meat Ant

(Iridomyrmex Sp.) Image by Steve Shattuck/CSIRO Australia

Steve Shattuck/CSIRO Australia

Appearance

  • Meat ants are a reddish brown in colour.
  • Meat ant workers are about 6-7 mm long and are reddish-brown with a slightly paler head and a darker gaster (abdomen). The body has shiny reflections of purple on the sides of the head and between the eyes.
  • Meat ants build large nests underground. They place sand, gravel and pebbles on the upper surface of the nest.
  • Large nests are common along country roadsides.
  • A single nest may contain tens of thousands of ants.
  • Workers of the colony are equipped with powerful jaws and communicate with each other using chemical cues (signals).

Life cycle

  • A meat ant queen, who lays all the eggs, is winged at birth but loses her wings after mating. There may be more than one queen in a nest.
  • Male meat ants have wings also and their only role is to mate with the new queens.
  • Reproductive new queen ants will only mate with a single male and begin establishing her own colony in early spring.
  • A single queen meat ant will start her own colony, eggs will take around 40 to 60 days to fully develop and develop as adults.

Habitat

  • Meat Ants are omnivores (eat plants and animals) and forage during the day, other species of ants in the area may be restricted to night foraging.
  • Meat ants are aggressive towards intruders, attacking other invertebrates. They may eat and/or drive off much larger animals by the sheer mass of numbers.
  • Border disputes may occur between rival colonies and are resolved by ritual (habitual) fighting.
  • Meat Ants and other species often have mutually beneficial relationships with caterpillars of different butterflies. Caterpillars supply sugary fluids to the ants, which in turn protect the caterpillars from predators.

Good – The Meat ant is native to Australia. They are beneficial to the environment as they are omnivores that control pest insects such as cockroaches, some beetle’s species, earwigs, aphids, any dead animals and as well as nectar and plant.

Danger to humans and first aid

Meat Ants don’t have a sting but are equipped with defensive compounds produced by the anal gland, a structure unique to this subfamily species of ant. This is the cause of the strong and unpleasant odours produced by many species in this family when they are disturbed, crushed or threatened. They also bite repeatedly and aggressively to defend their nests and territories.
An ice pack or commercially available spray may be used to relieve the pain of the sting. If there is evidence of an allergic reaction, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Control

  • Most ants are scavengers, there are more likely to infest a house or property if hygiene is poor, sanitation is very important.
  • Keep inside and outside of properties food particles free.
  • Wash up and clean all areas where food is prepared or consumed, these areas may include kitchen benches, shelves, draws, floors, tables and chairs.
  • Outdoor areas should also be free of any types of food sources e.g. bones, left over pet food or BBQ.
  • Sap-sucking or pest insects on plants may aid to support and encourage a range of any ant species. Treating these pest insects will reduce the infestations of ants.

Chemical Control

If the control measures above are unsuccessful and the ants are becoming a nuisance, then a chemical method can be applied.

Before using a chemical method, it is best that a thorough inspection should be carried out by following trails, particularly where ants are carrying food back to the nest. Direct treatment of the nest, where possible, can provide the most effective long term control. Where a nest cannot be located, a residual barrier can be applied to cracks and crevices where the ants are traveling to the food source. These chemicals come in the forms of liquid or dust.

Always follow product labels to ensure appropriate use.

Get to know the Banded Sugar Ant

(Camponotus consobrinus) (Image by Queensland Government)

 Appearance

  • The length of the banded sugar ant is 10mm.
  • The banded sugar ant is orange-brown in colour with a black head. The rear of the abdomen is black with two dull bands.
  • The banded sugar ant has strong mandibles (jaws).

Life cycle

  • Like all ants, the banded sugar ant begins life as an egg. If the egg is fertilised, it becomes a female; if not, it will become a male.
  • They develop through complete metamorphosis (transformation) meaning that they pass through a larvae and pupae stage before emerging as adults.

Habitat

  • You will find the banded sugar ant in bush-land, woodland and suburban areas.
  • Banded sugar ants are nocturnal and workers are mostly encountered at dusk when they are foraging for food.
  • The banded sugar ant is Omnivore (eats meat and plants). They eat sugar and other sweet food. Sugar ants collect honeydew made by plant-eating insects, mainly aphids.
  • Banded sugar ant nests are found in holes in wood, between rocks, roots of plants and in soil. In soil, they leave a large dirt mound around the entrance of the hole.

Good – The Banded sugar ant is native to Australia. They are beneficial to the environment as they are omnivores that control pest insects such as cockroaches, some beetle’s species, earwigs, aphids, any dead animals and as well as nectar and plant.

Danger to humans and first aid

The Banded Sugar Ant does not pose any threat to humans but they have strong mandibles (jaws) and can give a painful bite. The banded sugar ant is considered a household pest and is occasionally seen in houses at night.
An ice pack or commercially available spray may be used to relieve the pain of the sting. If there is evidence of an allergic reaction, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Control

  • Most ants are scavengers, there are more likely to infest a house or property if hygiene is poor, sanitation is very important.
  • Keep inside and outside of properties food particles free.
  • Wash up and clean all areas where food is prepared or consumed, these areas may include kitchen benches, shelves, draws, floors, tables and chairs.
  • Outdoor areas should also be free of any types of food sources e.g. bones, left over pet food or BBQ.
  • Sap-sucking or pest insects on plants may aid to support and encourage a range of any ant species. Treating these pest insects will reduce the infestations of ants.

Chemical Control

If the control measures above are unsuccessful and the ants are becoming a nuisance, then a chemical method can be applied.

Before using a chemical method, it is best that a thorough inspection be carried out by following trails, particularly where ants are carrying food back to the nest. Direct treatment of the nest, where possible, can provide the most effective long term control. Where a nest cannot be located, a residual barrier can be applied to cracks and crevices where the ants are traveling to the food source. These chemicals come in the forms of liquid or dust.

Always follow product labels to ensure appropriate use.