The word “ant” is derived from ante, emete of Middle English, which are derived from Old English. Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies that may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. Ants communicate with each other using pheromones, sounds, and touch. The paired antennae provide information about the direction and intensity of scents. Larger colonies consist mostly of sterile, wingless females forming castes of “workers”, “soldiers”, or other specialised groups. Most ants nest in soil, but some will nest in wood or wall voids. They choose sites that are close to moisture and food. Ants move their colonies frequently in response to flooding, temperature changes and physical disturbances. Ants attack and defend themselves by biting and, in many species, by stinging, often injecting or spraying chemicals.
Fire ant is the common name for several species of ants in the genus Solenopsis. A typical fire ant colony produces large mounds in open areas, and feeds mostly on young plants and seeds. Fire ants are more aggressive than most native species and are renowned for their ability to survive extreme conditions. Fire ants nest in the soil often near moist areas, such as river banks, pond shores, watered lawns and highway shoulders. Usually, the nest will not be visible, as it will be built under objects such as timber, rocks and bricks. Colonies are founded by small groups of queens or single queens. Fire ant queens may live as many as 6 to 7 years and can produce up to 3,500 eggs per day.
The pharaoh ant, Monomorium pharaonis genus is a small yellow or light brown, almost transparent ant notorious for being a major indoors nuisance pests. This species is polygynous, meaning each colony contains many queens, leading to unique caste interactions and colony dynamics. Pharaoh ants are a tropical species, but they thrive in buildings almost anywhere. Pharaoh ants cease activity at night and begin each day of work at around 8 am. The pharaoh ant queen can lay hundreds of eggs in her lifetime. Most lay 10 to 12 eggs per batch in the early days of egg production.
Tapinoma melanocephalum is a species of ant that goes by the common name ghost ant. The ghost ant is thought to be so named because the legs and abdomen of the insect look transparent, with only the head and thorax being dark brown in colour. The ghost ant’s diet consists mainly of sweets but they will also feed on grease and occasionally living or dead insects. This is a widespread tropical species, found throughout the world. It nests readily outdoors or indoors and this species is polygynous. Workers have the habit of running rapidly and erratically when disturbed. When crushed, the workers emit an odor similar to that of rotten coconuts.