Ants And Bedbugs Advice
Ants are among the most advanced of all insects, and all ant species are social. Their nests are usually underground and, except when we disturb nests in the garden or inadvertently picnic near one, we do not see much of the occupants. Once a year, however, the ants to go on their marriage flights and all the ant nests in the neighbourhood seem to erupt at the same time, providing a feast for birds and sending the house occupants scurrying to the shop for ant killer or on the phone to their local pest control company. These flying ants are the males and fully developed females, but they represent only a small proportion of the ant community, most of which are wingless workers.
Soon after the marriage flights and the males die, but the females are only just beginning the useful part of their lives. Their first act on returning to the earth is to remove their wings, for these will be of no further use in the confines of the nests. The new queens then either enter an existing nest, perhaps the one from which they came, or with a hole up in some crevice while their eggs develop. Nourishment during this period is provided by their de-generating flight muscles. Eggs are laid in spring and the young queen feeds on her larvae on her own saliva. These larvae become workers and they begin the construction of the nests, which consist of a number of chambers and corridors excavated in the soil. The queen retires to her ‘royal chamber’, and is constantly tended by workers; she devotes herself to laying more eggs. These are carried away by the workers and placed in incubation chambers. When they have hatched, the larvae are taken to larval quarters, where the workers feed them on honey and insect grubs.
A mature nest will contain several thousand ants. Males and females are produced during the summer, and when climatic conditions are suitable, they emerge for their marriage flights. Each nest seems to produce mainly males or mainly females, and so there is little risk of inbreeding. Whereas the mating flight marks the end of the colony for wasps and bumblebees, the ant colony goes on from year to year.
The majority of the terrestrial Heteroptera are plant feeding bugs, often brightly coloured and commonly confused with Beatles, although the beak and the membranous tip of the wing will always distinguish them. Some heteroptera bugs are predatory and feed on other insects, and some take the blood of larger animals. The bedbug, Cimex lectularuis, feed on man, although it does not remain permanently attached.
It is interesting to note that the bedbugs nearest relatives are parasites of bats, pigeons and housemartins - three groups of animals which have been associated with man since his cave dwelling days. It may well have been a single parasite attacked all three in ‘ cavemen’ times and then broke up into several races, each with a preferred host, that have now evolved into distinct species.
The homopteran bugs are all plant feeders, and they include many serious pests, such as aphids, leaf hoppers and scale insects.