Ants in Singapore

Black House Ants

Summary

Black house ants are native to Australia and are a common house-infesting ant species. These ants do not bite or sting and are active day and night.

Where are they found?

In the home they are commonly attracted to sweet liquids and foods and are often drawn to the kitchen, laundry and bathroom. They naturally nest and forage in trees, feeding on insects, honeydew and nectar.

Damage

These ants rarely cause direct damage but are considered household pests as they are one of the few ant species that will nest inside. They can be found nesting in areas such as roof and wall spaces, rolled up awnings, pot plants, and in-between flat packed items. They may also infest electrical items such as kettles, microwave ovens, computers or clock radios.

Treatment

Control of these ants when numbers are low is advisable. When numbers are high and multiple nests have been established, control can be increasingly difficult. If nests are exposed they can be sprayed with fly spray, otherwise baits containing borates (borax) are effective for this sweet-feeding ant species. There are also gel baits now available containing the active ingredients thiamethoxam or indoxacarb that are effective and can be sourced online. Evaporation of baits can be minimised by placing in a sealed container and drilling a few holes above the bait level to allow access by ants. Once ants begin feeding, do not disturb bait.

Fire Ants

Red Fire Ants get their common name from their ability to inflict painful bites and stings.

Habits
These red ants build large mound nests that are flattened, irregular in shape, and between two and four square feet in size. They are commonly introduced into new areas through potted plants, shrubs and trees.

Habitat
Red Fire ants usually nest in soil near structural foundations or in landscaping. Although these fire ants are often found outdoors, they can gain access to buildings through HVAC systems and AC units. If they manage to get inside, red ant bites can become an issue.

Threats
Although commonly referred to as a bite, red ants actually sting, not bite. In fact, red ants will sting humans who disturb a nest. The sting of a red fire ant is painful and often results in a raised welt that becomes a white pustule. Often, a person stung by red fire ants will receive multiple stings from more than one of the ants. Persons allergic to insect stings will react more severely to red ant “bites.”

Fire Ant Prevention
Red fire ants and their telltale mound nests should be actively avoided. Interfering with a fire ant nest can cause them to sting, resulting in painful welts. To prevent red ants from entering a structure, seal all internal and external cracks and crevices.

Ghost Ants (or Sugar Ants)

Ghost ants get their common name from the fact that they are very hard to see due to their pale color and tiny size. They are a tropical species, probably of African or Asian origin. In the United States, ghost ants are found primarily in central and southern Florida and Hawaii. This type of ant is unable to survive in the northern states except in greenhouses and heated spaces.

Habits
Ghost ants are highly adaptable in their nesting habits, which seem to be similar to those of pharaoh ants. Colonies of ghost ants are moderate to large in size and can contain thousands of workers and numerous functional queens distributed across multiple nesting sites.

Ghost ants are very fond of honeydew. They also feed on dead and living insects. Inside, ghost ants show a preference to sweet foods and are most commonly found in kitchens.

Habitat
Outside, ghost ants make their nest in the ground. They prefer cavities and crevices in dead tree branches, but will also nest under stones, inside logs and within piles of leaves and other debris. Ghost ants will readily enter structures by trailing from nests along sidewalks, patios and foundation walls.

Inside, ghost ants typically nest in wall voids, behind baseboards, between cabinets and inside the soil of potted plants. Workers often trail under carpet edges and along electrical wires in wall voids where they are hidden from view. Because of their high moisture needs, ghost ants can also be found trailing to water sources such as sinks, shower stalls, tubs, potted plants, etc.

Threats
Ghost ants do not sting, as they lack a stinger. However, ghost ants can become a serious nuisance because they are known to nest inside homes. Similar to odorous house ants, ghost ants give off a coconut-like odor when they are crushed.

Ghost Ant Prevention
Ghost ants often enter homes by trailing along branches of trees and shrubs in direct contact with the structure. To prevent a ghost ant infestation, homeowners should keep shrubbery trimmed, ensure branches are cut back, leaf litter and debris is removed, and store firewood at least 20 feet away from the home.

A thorough inspection of the home is crucial to determine if a ghost ant infestation has developed. Indoors, homeowners should occasionally inspect sinks, toilets, and tubs for any leaks or drips. Check carpet edges and shoe moldings, and around windows and doors for trails of ants. Also, inspect electrical outlets and telephone jacks, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. Outdoors, pay attention to the area along foundation walls and sidewalks by pulling back the grass. Turn over any stones, bricks, logs, firewood or debris on the ground.

Controlling ghost ants requires time and patience. Homeowners should consider working with a licensed pest professional to employ a preventative pest management plan or treat an existing problem.

Pharaoh’s Ants

Pharaoh ants get their name from the mistaken belief that they were one of the plagues of Egypt during the time of Pharaohs.

Habits
Colonies of Pharaoh ants tend to be large, with workers numbering in the thousands. If disturbed, members of the colony will migrate to new locations to establish several new colonies through a process called budding.

Pharaoh ants feed on a variety of food sources including sweets, oils and proteins. They will also eat other dead insects.

Habitat
Pharaoh ants are commonly found in commercial food handling establishments such as hotels, grocery stores and hospitals. Inside, they nest in warm, humid areas near food and water sources. Nests are usually located in inaccessible areas such as wall voids, behind baseboards, in furniture and under floors. These ants often use electrical and telephone wires as a highway system to travel through walls and between floorboards.

Threats
Pharaoh ants have been implicated in the spread of more than a dozen disease pathogens including salmonella and Streptococcus pyogenes. They are notorious for being a major nuisance in hospitals where they can enter wounds, enter IV bottles and can sometimes even seek moisture from the mouths of sleeping patients.

Pharaoh Ant Prevention
Seal all possible points of entry around the house including small openings and cracks around doors and windows.
Keep counters and floors clean and free of crumbs.
Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles.
Eliminate sources of standing water outside and use a dehumidifier indoors to prevent moisture buildup.
Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed and away from the house.
Store fire wood at least 20 feet away from the house.
Consider working with a pest professional to employ a preventative pest management plan.

Carpenter Ants

What is a carpenter ant?

Carpenter ants get their name from their nest building, where they will excavate the wood and form smooth tunnels inside of the wood. Carpenter ants do not eat wood, they only tunnel and chew through wood to create nests.

The western black carpenter ant colony, when mature, contains about 10-20,000 workers, with large colonies of more than 50,000 individuals. There is usually only one functional, wingless queen per colony. Swarmers are not produced until the colony is more than two years old. 

What do carpenter ants look like?

Carpenter ants vary in size and can be anywhere from ½” to ⅝” long. While black carpenter ants are common, these pests may be a combination of black and red, or completely black, red or brown.

Signs of an Infestation

The only external sign of a carpenter ant infestation other than the presence of workers and/or swarmers is the appearance of small openings on the surface of wood. Through these, the ants expel debris, which consists of sawdust-like shavings and/or fragments of insulation and insect body parts. The accumulation of this debris below the holes is a good indication of an active infestation. The gallery walls that carpenter ants create are smooth, with a sand-papered appearance. Active galleries are kept clean of debris.

Carpenter ants prefer to attack wood softened by fungus and are often associated with moisture problems, so homeowners should keep an eye out for excess moisture and soft, rotting wood around the home.

How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally

If you would like to get rid of ants naturally, there are plenty of tips and methods for you to try out yourself at home. If you are looking to use ingredients and items readily available around the house, check out these 7 Natural Pest Control Hacks You Can Try At Home.

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