Wood ants, coming from the genus Formica they have reddish to black covering that can easily distinguish them from other ant species. A wood ant queen can measure up to 12 mm while other ants belonging to the worker and the colonies have a slighter body. This specific type of ant is called indicator species since they reside in the woods and their existence signifies healthy vegetation around the area.
Life Cycle of a Wood Ant
The life cycle of a wood ant might last longer for the colony’s queen, lasting for fifteen years. Workers can live up to one year but the males usually die faster after mating in spring. Female wood ants comprise the population of workers since they are immature and cannot breed. These workers are very violent towards predators as they discharge formic acid when threatened to resemble the odor of vinegar. They can lay eggs but it will only be used as food.
Wood ant nests are shaped like a dome made from pine needles spanning up to one meter high and two meters for the diameter. Different types of wood ants have different sizes of nests from large flat ones to smaller ones. The main purpose of a nest is for defense especially from anteaters or other predators. It also protects the colonies from harsh weather conditions and provides stability for the queen to lay eggs, care for them, and nurture the pupae.
Wood ants maintain an ideal temperature inside their mounds through the pine needles that prevent rainwater from coming in and the flat area along the southern part of the mound that can soak up heat from the sun. Hollowing openings or filling holes can control the heat inside and wood ants make use of their body to provide heat inside tunnels.
Nests can be found on decaying trees as the organic matter and wood provide heat for the mound. There are numerous nests to compose a whole wood ant colony. The main nest found closer to wood sources is called the parent nest, which contains the queen, larvae, pupae, and workers to protect them. This is also the place where reproduction happens.
Other nests in the colony store food, other workers. These nests hold the hatched larvae that will become workers in the future. The most common and discernible nest people see outdoors is the satellite nest located where there are wood and moisture. Satellite nests can also be found in residential areas along with parts of the house that has moist wood such as the attic, doors, bathtubs, and columns.
Wood Ant Activity
Wood ants go out of their mounds and become active mostly during nighttimes. The surface 15 minutes after sunset and use chemical trails to search for food. Wood ants are out of control during spring, from April to March, and during fall, from September to October. Their preferred food comes from honeydew produced by aphids. Besides honeydew, they also eat invertebrates such as worms and insects. Their diet consists of both animal and plant food sources.
Wood Ant Advantages
Wood ants are very advantageous for the ecosystem as they carry seeds when traveling that aids plant reproduction. These ants also consume pests that devour leaves such as those herbivorous invertebrates while their nests also help other species who prefer to live with them.
Wood Ant Disadvantages
The damage wood ants can cause will be towards residential areas where they can build their nests, hollow out the wood, and destroy the structures even though they do not need to consume wood for nourishment as it is just for their nesting place. Eliminating them would be a good idea since they will create more damages than they can add benefits to the ecosystem when they are residing at a home.
Eliminating Wood Ants from Residential Areas
People can ask a professional pest control Darlington handler to take care of a wood an infestation around the house. Homeowners can also do their remedy by searching for the colony or the parent nest. These nests can be found in rotting wood or wood that has gathered moisture inside the house. Individuals can differentiate them properly since the black-winged ants fly inside the house in search of another home. Smaller infestations are indicated by less than 10 wood ants flying.
Insecticides can eradicate the nests and people can use sprayed insecticides or boric acids for wood ants that reside on the flooring or behind the wall. Organic solutions are also possible in lieu of chemicals. Hot or boiling water mixed with ant spray can kill ants and eliminate the mounds inside the house.
Prevention is still better than the eradication of wood ants because of their benefits in nature. People can stop the infestation of wood ants in their home by repairing the old and rotten wood inside that can attract ants. The wood ants will not reside on a home if their natural habitat in the forest or tree stump is undisturbed.