Ants are an incredibly intelligent species; they are foraging, colony-building insects and have strict divisions of labour, which have allowed them to survive and protect themselves for over 99 million years.
There are only eleven known ant species native to New Zealand but introduced ant species have been annoying households for a long time. One of the biggest and most common ant offenders is the introduced black house ant.
What is the black house ant?
Black house ants are most commonly found in your garden and in your home. They are brown to brownish-black in appearance (hence the name) and can range from 3mm long (worker ant) to 9mm long (only the queen reaches this length). When threatened, these ants won't be afraid to bite their offender to defend themselves. The reason black ants are found all around the world is due to their ability to establish colonies anywhere. Black house ants will most likely live in the soil, but they also nest under the bark of trees; under rocks/stones; under grass; under cement slabs; in the cracks found in the foundation of buildings; in roofs or wall buildings; and in the hollow of decayed trees.
Black house ants will mate during the winter periods, making them most active during the summer, autumn and spring seasons. Yet, it is during the wetter seasons where black house ants will relocate their nest to drier grounds. Their natural instinct to forage and their ability to establish colonies everywhere is what makes this species of ant considered the most unwelcome.
What impact do they have on my home?
If anything, black house ants are more annoying than dangerous. Black house ant colonies can vary in size, but the longer the colony has been established, the bigger it is in size and the stronger the ant workers. Black ants won’t hesitate to enter your home and look for sweet foods, fruits and vegetables, other dead insects and more. Any foods not properly stored will be the target of the colony as they use their antennae to smell food trails and communicate with one another. Yet, what makes them incredibly annoying is that ants will enter your home looking to collect food, take it back to their nest, return to your home, and repeat the process over and over again. This means that once an ant invasion starts, it’s incredibly difficult to stop it yourself. Although they’re not considered dangerous, ants have the potential to contaminate your other foods with bacteria like salmonella as they also feed on dog faeces.
What can I do to get rid of ants?
If ants are already taking over your home, you must call your trusted Flick Anticimex technician to eradicate them from the source: the nest. Residents should not attempt to eradicate established ant colonies by themselves as the colony will contain thousands of ants, many of whom can deliver painful bites.
If ants have yet to take over your home, there are preventative methods you can take, including:
- Regularly clean your kitchens, dishes, countertops and dining tables from crumbs and food scraps
- Put sugary foods in the fridge, not the pantry
- Remove possible places they can establish their colony, like stones, dead trees, etc.
- Find interior and exterior cracks and other possible openings that would allow ants to enter your home