February, the Month of Rom-ants?

February, the Month of Rom-ants? - A black garden ant in close up.

The black garden ant.

You’re in your kitchen, about to prepare a romantic Valentine’s Day meal when you catch sight of…an ant? At this time of year?

During cold winter months, many ant species hibernate, or torpor (exhibit inactivity), to survive the winter. If you see ants during this time of year, it might be that a warm spell has fooled them into venturing out in search of food. If you see ants inside your home, it could be that the colony has formed within your property.

Why Control Ants?

Whilst ants are not believed to carry disease, they do walk through dirty places before walking over your kitchen work surfaces, potentially spreading bacteria and contaminating food sources.  Also, the sheer number of them can be distressing.  Colonies of black garden ants usually reach an average of 4,000-7,000 workers, however, in rare cases can grow as large as 40,000 in size. If you have only spotted one or two ants it is certain that you have only witnessed a fraction of the colony’s foragers.

Identification

  • Black Garden Ant (Lasius niger) : there are about 50 species of ant found in the UK, the most common of which is the Black Garden Ant. worker ants are around 3mm long, and queens around 15mm. They tend to head straight for your kitchen in search of sugar, fat, and grains. The queen can live up to 29 years!
  • Red ant (Myrmica rubra): as their name suggests, they are reddish brown in colour, and around 4-6mm in length. They are active throughout the year, so can be sighted all year round. Be careful if you believe you have spotted a red ant, as they can deliver a painful sting, giving them their alternative name of “fire ant”.

Red ants at work.

  • Southern wood ant (Formica rufa): also known as the, “horse ant”, or “red wood ant” due to its reddish-brown colour, is the largest of the UK ant species, with workers reaching around 10mm in length.
  • Yellow meadow ant (Lasius flavus): as their name suggests, are yellow coloured. At around 2-4mm, they are marginally smaller than the red ant, although the two are often confused due to their reddish/yellow colouring. Fear not! These ants do not sting.

You may also encounter tropical ant species within your home. They are unable to overwinter outdoors, and only survive inside heated buildings. 

Tropical species include:

  • Ghost ant (Tapinoma melanocephalum): their name originates from their translucent abdomen and legs, giving them a ghostly appearance. They are very small, around 1.6mm in length.
  • Pharaoh’s ant (Monomorium pharaonic): Around 2mm in length, with almost transparent yellowish-brown colouring.

Ant life cycle

Where are these Ants coming from?

Ants are very small, so it is easy for them to find their way into your home from your garden. The ant nest itself may be located near your home, such as on the edge of your lawn or patio, or in your home itself, e.g., inside wall cavities.

What should I do?

There are many products available that can be effective at killing worker ants, however, they do not tackle the source of the problem – the queen, residing deep within the colony.  To effectively remove your ant infestation, Avon Pest Control recommended contacting a qualified pest control expert.

Not in love with your new uninvited houseguests? Call Avon Pest Control today for specialist advice, information, and removal/treatment pricing.  Let our team sort your pest problem for you.