Pest Control in July
Ants are a problem all through the summer months but we hit a high point of call outs when the male drones and the new Queens emerge form their nests for the nuptial flight. In order to maximise the potential to mate and spread the original Queen ants DNA, many insects will synchronise their breeding cycle with males and Queens from ALL the ant nests leaving within 24 hours on one another.
For a couple of days throughout the summer we can see the different species all behaving this way with nuptial flights, the most common ant that people see around the Bracknell area is the Black ant which is our native species, because the local area has a great number of pine tree's and plantations we also have four different species of wood ant leaving close by.
There are other ant species that live in the garden: these include the yellow meadow ant, you'll find these living in small mounds in lawns right across the County. Living underground feeding on smaller insects these ants are rarely seen apart form that nuptial flight. The Red wood ant builds a large mound out of pine needles and leaf litter - you can see plenty of these in the woods and forests around the area, able to bite and spray formic acid these ants are aggressive if disturbed.
The slave raider ant or Formica sanguinea is the largest ant found in the UK and as it names suggests it raids other ant nests stealing egg's and raising the hatched workers as their own, found in huge numbers as they will have multiple Queens inside a nest all laying their own egg's as well.
The red ant which most people know from its painful sting is Myrmica of which there are seven different species found in the UK, living in small colonies of around 100 to 300 they are aggressive and seem happier to attack rather than run away - found on many a picnic! Another small stinging ant is Tetramorium caespitum; found nearer the coast these are a type of wood ant that prefer to nest under rotting logs, more timid than its red cousin, they can still deliver a painful sting.
Along with our native species of ant we also have ants moving with climate change to the UK; our centrally heated homes and offices are host to one of these: the Pharaoh's ant heralds from north Africa and due to their small size these often go unnoticed and will be difficult to control. Its important to understand that with the Pharaoh's ant you should NOT treat these with over the counter pest products; these will stress the ants causing the workers to split the nest up and move to many different locations. What happens now is unique to these ants, the workers will manipulate the egg's to produce new Queens - where you had one nest you now have dozens - all working together as they are the same family.
Roger's ant - not much is known about these ants or who Roger was, very common in the UK and around 2mm long, a stinging ant which is rarely seen outside, they swarm all year round and will be found in cracks around broken drains.
The Ghost ant, named not because it lives in creepy old buildings but its translucent legs and body, these ants will be found in warm, damp environments like bathrooms, kitchens and commercial boiler rooms. If you crush the Ghost ant it releases a coconut like smell.
New species that has been here for just a few years include the Acrobat ant, the Crazy ant, the Argentine ant and the Fire ant - the Fire ant sounds like something Hollywood would dream up but they do exist; these are a species of ant that has come from Asia which are obsessed with electricity. They seem to like the electromagnetic fields given off by electrical equipment building their nests in transformers where they cause short circuits and start fires. Lasius neglectus were first found back in 2009 and now thought to have caused several fires in properties in the UK.
What ants live inside the nest?
Inside the ants nest you will find the Queen ant - possibly more than one Queen depending on the species and she lays the egg's that form the colony, these ants can live for about 10 to 15 years. The majority of her egg's will emerge as worker ants; these are all female but without the ability to mate and lay egg's of their own. The worker ants have a lifespan of around 5 years, there are also some males produced and their job is to mate with other young Queen ants - the males are there just for breeding and only live for a few months.
Why do we find garden ants inside the house?
Ants will come into your home looking for a source of food or shelter as they need a better place to nest; ants work on positive pheromone trails and when moving about they will lay an invisible trail for other ants to follow. This will take them to a food source and if you can see lines of ants in your home then you can follow the trail back to the nest site.