Ants are the most successful group insects. They are social in nature, live in colonies which are located usually in the ground, but will enter buildings for food or shelter. Ants feed on almost any kind of food, but when entering homes they look for sweets or protein. There are 12,000 species of ants worldwide. About 700 species of ants live in the United States and Canada. In California there are 200 species but fewer than a dozen are of any importance. Ants are divided into two groups, either wall nesting or ground nesting ants. Ants have 3 castes (social groups), queens, workers and males.
Most all species bite but some sting. The five most common wall nesting ants are the carpenter ant, crazy ant, odorous house ant, Pharaoh ant and the thief ant. The most common ground or mound ants are the Argentine ant, pavement ant, little black ant, fire ant and velvety tree ant (not actually an ant).
It is important to properly identify the species of ant in order for control to be effective. Most ants have 3 body regions (head, thorax and abdomen) defined by distinct constrictions. The antennae is elbowed in workers and queens, but sometimes straight in males. The last 3 to 4 segments of the antenna are usually large, forming a club like appearance.
Feeding and habitat:
Queens are usually the largest ants in a colony and serve to establish new colonies and lay eggs. Ant metamorphosis is as follows: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Once inseminated, queens can lay eggs for the full 15 years of their life. In most species a colony can have many functional queens but only one founding queen. Unmated females have wings and mated females chew theirs off.
Workers are females that never have wings and live as long as 7 years. Workers vary in size and shape. Small workers are called minors, large ones majors or soldiers and those in-between are called medias. Workers do all the work, such as gathering food, caring for the young, tunneling or enlarging the nest.
The male ant is in size between the queen and the worker. They are used only for reproduction and will die within 2 weeks of mating.
New colonies are started by a or queen ants. They usually come out of their nest, mate, chew off their wings and start a new colony in a suitable location.
Ants do not actually eat solid food. Instead, they take the liquids out of foods, store the fluid in their crop and the dried parts are discarded. The liquid food may then be shared with other ants or larvae can be fed by regurgitating the fluid.
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Common Arizona ANTS
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