In Australia there are over 4,000 known species of ant. Only a handful of these (mostly introduced) are considered pests. The rest are very important ecologically as predators and scavengers, dispersing seed and pollen, and improving soil structure.
Know your enemy
For most people, ants only become a problem when they enter buildings in search of food and water, or when they build their nests in buildings or gardens. Ants can be attracted to a wide range of foods with different species having preferences for sugars, proteins, fats or oils.
In many species, once an individual has found a desirable item, it returns to the nest and recruits mates to help gather the food. That’s why you’ll find large numbers of them rapidly appearing around an item, with a long trail leading back to the nest.
Can ants damage your property?
Some ants build nests in walls and foundations, indoor potted plants and small spaces between fittings and walls. Generally, though, they don’t cause structural damage because they take advantage of pre-existing deterioration or spaces. Occasionally, however, a few species attack electrical wiring for unknown reasons and can cause extensive damage.
Outdoors, you’ll find evidence of nesting with soil deposited on gardens, around pots and between tiles and brickwork, resulting in a mess but little damage. Some species can form multi-chambered nests just below the soil surface, causing it to become soft and uneven. They can also sometimes undermine retaining walls and interfere with drainage systems.
True or false: if you have ants, you won’t have termites.
Ants are sometimes confused with the termites, because termites are nicknamed ‘white ants’. But unlike termites, ants don’t damage sound timber and, if found in wood, are simply using pre-existing cavities.
There is an old wives’ tale that if you have black ants around your home, you won’t have a problem with termites. Unfortunately, that is completely false.
In fact, ants do eat termites. But they’re smart enough to know that if they wipe out the whole colony, their food supply will disappear. So, they usually only take enough to feed their colony and leave the rest. This means the termites can start to rebuild their colony and the threat they pose to your property continues.
If you have an ant problem, please call us for a swift and ecologically sound resolution.