Ants: The Spring House Guest No One Wants, But Nearly Everyone Gets

Monday, April 12, 2010

Springtime is ant time as ants march into homes in search of food. With more than 700 species of ants in the U.S. and about two dozen classified as pests, many homeowners will likely encounter these unwelcome visitors.

"Ants are more than a nuisance. They can contaminate food, bite when threatened and damage our property," noted Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association. "However, which species of ant invades can depend on geography."

Here are some species homeowners should lookout for this spring:

Odorous house ants get their name from the strong, rotten coconut-like smell they give off when crushed. Odorous house ants like sweets and are found in exposed soil and wall cracks in every region of the U.S.

Carpenter ants typically tunnel into soft wood to build their nests and need a constant water source to survive. This species is found across the U.S. and can cause significant property damage.

Red imported fire ants will build their nest mounds in landscape areas or near structural foundations. The sting of a red imported fire ant is painful and often results in a welt and can cause severe allergic reactions. These ants are most common in southern states.

Argentine ants are found in southeastern parts of the U.S. and California. Argentine ant colonies can grow to monumental size. The ant gives off a musty odor when crushed. They prefer to eat sweets, but will eat almost anything including meats, eggs, oils and fats. Argentine ant colonies are located in wet environments near a food source.

Crazy Rasberry ants, first found in Texas in 2002, have spread to Mississippi and Louisiana and could spread to other southern states. They feed on plants, insects, and small animals, can bite humans, and are oddly attracted to electrical equipment.

For more information on ants or to find a pest professional in your area, visit: www.pestworld.org.

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.

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