Major Pest species
Sometimes called sugar ants, Carpenter ants are one of the most common and widespread groups of ants in Australia. Species vary greatly in size and colour, ranging from about 2.5 - 14mm in overall length, and from brown to pale brown in colour. They don’t sting, but may bite. Carpenter ants rarely enter houses. Nests are commonly found in decaying wood, soil, between rocks, among the roots of plants and in twigs on standing shrubs or trees.
Black House Ant
Black house ants are 2.5 - 3mm long, and intensely black in colour with a sometimes subtle, purplish-green iridescence. They are smaller and stockier than the Whitefooted house ant and produce a distinctive strong odour when crushed. However the smell is reportedly undetectable to some. These ants bite, but don’t sting and are an introduced species. Black house ants may import and tend aphids and other bugs on domestic pot plants. They nest outside around the edges of paths, rockeries, and other structures, and also commonly nest indoors in ceilings, cavity walls and subfloor areas. They prefer sweet foods, but will eat a variety of foodstuffs.
Iridomyrmex species, including Meat Ants, are omnivores (eat plants and animals) and forage during the day while other species of ants in the area may be restricted to foraging at night. Meat Ants, also known as Gravel Ants, build large nests underground and often place sand, gravel, pebbles or even bits of dead vegetation on the upper (mounded) surface of the nest. Large nests are common along country roadsides and a single nest may contain 64,000 ants. Sometimes a number of nests will be part of one colony and can be spread over a wide area connected by numerous ant paths and trails. These super-nests are known to stretch up to 650 m.
Singapore ants are an introduced species. They are light brown in colour with a darker posterior abdomen. These ants are 1.5 - 3mm long and can inflict a painful sting. Singapore ants are attracted to plastics in electrical, irrigation and other equipment. They frequently nest in power sockets and chew on electrical wiring, and have been responsible for electrical fires. They form slow-moving trails and feed on a variety of foodstuffs, preferring animal based materials to sweets.
Argentine ants are slender, brown in colour and between 1.5 – 3mm long. They have eyes close to the base of their antennae and no spines on the thorax. Argentine ants travel in slow-moving, well-defined trails up to three or more ants wide. They are often seen on the trunks of trees and shrubs as their primary food source is the sweet honeydew produced by aphids and scale insects. Argentine ants prefer sweet foods, but may also eat meat and dead insects.
Pharaoh’s ants range from light yellow-brown to darker brown in colour. They are 1.5 - 3mm long and do not produce an odour when crushed. These ants are found in large colonies, with many queens. They commonly nest within the warmer areas of buildings (areas adjacent to heating ducts for example). They are frequently found in hospitals and nursing homes. The workers may forage over large distances for food. The Pharaoh’s ant prefers high protein foods such as meat and blood as well as fatty foods and vegetables.