Ants
 
Most household ants are nuisance pests. The sight of or presence of ants in food and drinks can be irritating. In addition, swarming of ants which may occur within the premises can be disturbing. Some ants, like fire ants, carry stings that can cause pustules and blisters, while others, like carpenter ants can nest inside wood structures and cause damage.

On the hand, ants are capable of being a mechanical vector of humans diseases too. As scavengers in kitchens and other food-handling areas, as well as garbage cans, dirty floors etc, they have the potential to transmit pathogenic organisms to humans. In addition, the Pharaoh ants have shown to cause contamination of surgical instruments and feed on wounds of patients in hospitals.

 
   
         
   
Ants live colonies and maintain a caste system. Each colony contains 2 types of individuals – Reproductive queens/males & Non-reproductive workers & immature. The worker caste is the most common caste seen by us.

Most household ants establish new colonies through budding. Budding is the process of movement of one to several queens with some workers carrying immatures to establish a new colony

Ants communicate chemically through pheromones, which are usually laid down onto travelling surfaces. The trail pheromone guides workers to food & water sources.

The food that ants eat is regurgitated again by workers to other workers, queens & males. This process of food exchange is called Trophallaxis, which plays an important role in baiting.
 
 

Some Common Pest and Species In Malaysia & Their Habitat:

 

Pharaoh Ant

Is a tiny ant species which varies from yellow to brown reddish in colour, readily found in urban settings. Colonies are usually fragmented and widely dispersed throughout a structure. Nests are located indoors behind walls, and in furniture, as well as outdoor in the gardens. They feed on variety of material including sugary food, proteinous and fatty food such as oil, meats & other insects.

 
 

Big-headed Ant

Commonly found in urban and suburban houses in Malaysia. There are two forms of worker ants, major & minor. Major worker can be differentiated from the minor, as it has a distinctly bigger head. This species prefer meats and fats. They are yellow reddish to light brown in colour and are often found in kitchen area.

 
   
Big-Headed Ant
Pharaoh Ant
 
 

Ghost Ant

Gives a bad odour when crushed. Nests are built in the soil around structures under rocks and boards on the surface, and indoors in cracks and crevices. Inside structures, they are often found around sink and kitchen area with lots of moisture. They are fond to feed on sugar-based food materials.

 
 

Crazy Ant

Easily recognised by the very long legs and long antennae, and uncoordinated erratic walking behaviour. Nests of these ants may be located in dry sites indoors and wet sites outdoors. They usually feed on a variety of items, particularly sugary food including jam, jellies, fruit, dead insects and household foods

 
 

Fire Ant

They are mound builders which can be often found in open areas. The mounds are irregular and cater-shaped. Each mound has several tunnels below the surface and extending away from the nest. Colonies of these ants produce winged swarmers, which leave the nest to form new colonies. Workers aggressively defend the colony when disturbed, and will sting & bite people and pet.s

 
 
   
 
Control of Ants
 

Ant control is a difficult task. The principle objectives are to reduce ant activities & to eradicate the colony. The best way to control ants is through direct treatment on the ant colony.

 

Generally there are three (3) Control Methods for Ants :

 

Residual/Direct insecticide Treatment

Direct insecticide treatment on foraging ants is not suitable as it will not eliminate the colony. Whenever such a treatment is required MAXPRO always uses a non-repellent residue insecticide (organophosphates) for safety & environmental reasons.

Pyrethroids should be avoided as they are repellent and will cause budding effect. Thus, instead of solving the problem, more colonies will be formed. As most ant infestation indoor are started from outdoor (except for pharaoh ants), MAXPRO uses frequent perimeter treatment around the building to prevent more ants from coming in.

 
 

Drenching

The best method to control most pest ants (except Pharaoh ants) is to find and treat the colonies directly, e.g the mounds of fire ants.

Drenching involved the spraying of effective insecticide (liquid concentrate) directly onto the ant colony until the the entire colony is soaked with the insecticide. This method has shown to be very effective as all the caste members including the reproductive queen is totally eliminated.

 
 

Bait

If colonies cannot be located, then the next best option is baiting. Through trophallaxis, the toxicant from bait feed will be circulated throughout the members of the colony and as such, total population elimination can be achieved.

Bait stations or gel baits are placed in locations where high numbers of ant count are recorded. But the best option is to locate these bait stations closer to the colony, along edges & corners since ants like to trail along the side of walls.

 
   
Ants feed the bait to the larvae and the queen,
killing the colony.
Ants take the gel and return to the colony
 
 
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