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March 3, 2018
Ants are one of the world's most pervasive pests, forming colonies in every place imaginable: homes, restaurants, warehouses, offices, and even medical facilities. If you’ve ever had to deal with an infestation in Maryland, you probably remember how relentless it was – ants don’t always go away easily. But why is this insect so hard for home and business owners to stop? Connor’s Pest Control has some amazing, yet unsettling ant facts to answer that question.
Ants are incredibly strong. While it doesn’t keep them from being crushed, it does help them carry food back to their colonies. Some species can even hold as much as 100 times their own body weight. Because their muscle to body mass ratio is so large, they have Herculean strength in comparison to their size. An ant’s strength-to-body ratio would be like that of a human lifting and carrying a fully-grown elephant above their head.
When it comes to insects, ants are not only one of the strongest, but they also live the longest. The ant caste system determines lifespan. Queens can live for up to 30 years – longer than most dogs and cats. With the queen’s long lifespan and egg-laying abilities, there’s no telling how many ants they’ll produce in their lifetime. Male ants typically live for only a couple of weeks and die after mating. Workers, responsible for protecting and feeding the colony, live for several months.
Ants know how to survive – they’ve been around since the dinosaur days. Harvard scientists discovered signs that these insects came into existence during the Cretaceous period. This means that their ancestors have already survived a mass extinction. They’re hardy pests with long lifespans, and getting rid of them in your Maryland home or business may require the skills of an ant control professional.
If their lifespans and durability weren’t enough, ants are also capable of forming some of the biggest colonies of any insect on Earth. In Europe, an enormous colony – known as a supercolony – of the Argentinian species has been discovered, stretching out over 3,750 miles and creating a major threat to local crops and animals. This is a result of multiple colonies combining to have several queen ants and interconnected underground passages.
Ants certainly know the meaning of “strength in numbers.” While one ant, on its own, is unable to protect itself, a colony can overcome prey that is much bigger and stronger. They’ve even been known to defend their colony from mammals. When threatened, ants come together and fight as one superorganism. From supercolonies to superorganisms, ants are quite a “super” pest.
Scientists claim there are over a quadrillion ants and over 14,000 known species throughout the world. But new ones are discovered all the time. According to estimates, there could be as many as 22,000 different ant species now – and even more ants themselves. Throughout the world, there is also a nomadic group of around 200 of these ant species that researchers refer to as army ants. They’re known to travel throughout the day and attack other ant and insect colonies for food at night.
Known for their complex social structures, ants have been studied for their caste systems. Like a well-run home, each ant has its duties within a colony. The queen ant has only one: to lay eggs. The other females – or workers – take care of everything else. They feed the larvae, search for food, clean the colony, and forage for supplies. A worker ant will even defend the nest. Like the queen, a male ant has just one job: to keep the population going.
Ants work together effectively because of their superb system of communication. Colony members communicate with one another using chemicals rather than their voices. Without noses, ants “smell” pheromones by using their antennae. A worker ant emits pheromones that deliver specific messages like “attack” or “food this way.” They smell each other for recognition, and the chemicals coating their bodies help them recognize their colony mates.
Ants of another colony could have minorly different pheromones, and yet they’re attuned enough to know the difference and attack. Even the queen has a unique smell, ensuring that the different members of her colony recognize and protect her. The insects also use touch and vibration to communicate, depending on the situation.
On top of their amazing physical characteristics, three ants are known to cause extensive problems in Maryland. Like many places in the United States, odorous house ants and carpenter ants are the species you’re most likely to run into. House ants contaminate food, while carpenter ants destroy wooden structures. Our state also has issues with the acrobat ant, which gets its name because it raises its abdomen above its head when disturbed. That’s not its only defense mechanism – the acrobat ant stings too.
Ants’ strength in numbers makes them hard to stop as a colony grows. It’s no wonder they’ve become the most widespread pest in the world – and one that refuses to leave you alone. When you consider the power of ants, both individually and as a group, it’s clear that professional help is needed to control them. Our ant control technicians at Connor’s Pest Control are trained to stop ant infestations at the source, eliminating the queen and halting your problem altogether.
When a massive colony of ants has made you uncomfortable in your Maryland home or business, contact Connor’s Pest Control for the smart and effective solution.