There are over 10,000 species of ants worldwide and exists on every continent except for Antarctica. They fall into the same biological order as wasps and bees, which is the order Hymenoptera. Each colony of any given ant species can have up to 20 million individual ants where queens reproduce and workers forage for food.
Ants are best known for their slender builds that are separated into three node structures, their fast legs and also their elbowed antennae. Most species of ants will range in color from brown to black with the exceptional bright clay red color for fire ants. Some species are larger than others but the size of ants will range from .75mm to 52mm which is about .03 in to 2 in.
Ants undergo a complete metamorphosis which means in their life span they will go through the process of morphing from an egg to larva to pupa until they mature to become adult ants. Ants are very social insects that work millions of individual ants work together in colonies for survival. Some nests have multiple queens for breeding while others do not have any queens at all. Most ant species will have a system where the queen and only females remain for the sole purpose of breeding. All other ants will be considered as worker ants that forage for food or continue to dig to enlarge the inside of their nests. Typically, new worker ants will remain inside to dig and older ants to leave their nests to forage for food. This is a survival tactic making it an acceptable risk to send older ants to forage for food and to defend the nest. Ants are known to have long lifespans. If they are unbothered, a queen ant may live for up to 30 years and female worker ants for 1-3 years. However, male worker ants are known to survive only a few weeks.
Ants remain active all year long in warmer climates. In more temperate zones, ants will survive the winter seasons by staying dormant in their nests until it is warm enough to leave their nests to forage for food. They are able to take on a wide range of food depending on the species of ants. Most ant species will be omnivorous. Some species are strictly herbivorous. Also, larger species of ants are predacious insects and some are even considered scavenger insects that feed on carcasses of dead animals. Some of the species of ants that will infest homes will forage indoors for any food crumbs and spilled liquids.
Ants as Pests
Ants may be considered one the most common pests in the homes of any urban area. In the United States, they are actually the biggest pest problem. Only a few species are classified as pests in America and these include the Pharoah Ant, Carpenter Ant, Argentine Ant, Odorous House Ant, and the Fire Ant. Typically, they are considered pests because they are capable of infesting home by millions and is very hard to eradicate. Some species are also known to attack when they are threatened and the most infamous of these may be the red Fire Ants.