Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More on Ants – Darwin and White Footed Ants

As mentioned in my previous articles on how to “Stop Ants Pestering You This Summer” and “Argentine Ants” the other species of ant that are likely to be pests in New Zealand are Darwin Ants and White Footed Ants. Here you will find a little more information on their biology to help you control them more effectively.

Darwin Ants

Darwin Ants are small (2-3mm) dark brown ants that have become established in New Zealand as far south as Christchurch. They are pests of our homes, shops and other buildings but there is little evidence yet that they are a threat to New Zealand’s natural ecosystems. Darwin Ant distribution is rapidly expanding and they may form ‘supercolonies’ in a similar way to Argentine Ants; with many nests part of the same colony and workers from one nest moving freely from one to another; cooperating. Darwin’s Ant came to NZ from Darwin in Australia and has found the environment in NZ to its liking with few competing insects and predators. In NZ it forms much larger colonies than in its native Australia.

Darwin Ants can be distinguished from a similar looking Argentine Ant. Darwins have a pungent smell when squashed where as Argentines do not. Darwins normally follow each other in single file where as Argentine ants will have a trail many ants wide like a ‘motorway’.

How to get rid of Darwin Ants

Identification is important to control ants, as methods can be tailored to the ant species involved. Incorrect control methods may only serve to exacerbate the problem as in spraying an Argentine or Darwin ant colony with insecticide before carrying out baiting and using barriers to stop spread.
Because of the ‘hidden’ locations of nests, ants can be difficult to control. Nests can often be located outside, under slabs, tarmac or concrete, with little or no evidence of their presence. The entrance to a nest can be established by leaving some fine breadcrumbs where you see ants. One can then follow the ants as they carry the crumbs back to their nest. Treatment at the entrance alone is rarely successful and treatment of a nest site may encourage multi-queened colonies (Argentine and Darwin’s) to disperse and spread infestation to surrounding sites.

For Darwin Ants follow the instructions in the “Stop Ants Pestering You This Summer.” And take note that you will find that Darwin Ants generally prefer Kiwicare Liquid Ant Bait to the gel bait. As Darwin Ants are likely to have muliple nests in your garden. Try and identify all the nest sites and treat all after baiting as described.

White Footed Ants
White Footed Ants are common pests in New Zealand homes and gardens. Numbers can get very high in conditions that suit these ants. Some colonies or nests may exceed a million individuals. These small dark ants look similar to Argentine Ants and Darwin Ants to the naked eye but can be identified by the pale ends to their legs; you may need the aid of a good lens or microscope to see this. They are often found climbing trees and walls and will readily infest upper floors of buildings.

How to get rid of White Footed Ants

In general the control of White Footed Ants is the same as for other ant species. Follow the instructions in “Stop Ants Pestering You This Summer.” However, White Footed Ants can be more difficult to control using baits because of their habit of feeding larvae and queens a sweet secretion from their rear rather than the food that they feed on directly. This means that baits are already processed or the workers are dead before they have a chance to feed the rest of the colony in the nest. The reduced effectiveness of baits means that more reliance on contact insecticides and barriers is needed to control these nuisance ants.

Why are ants always so negative?
Because they are so anti.

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