The Most Dangerous Ants in America

If you’ve seen ants in or near your home, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Ants are one of the most widely distributed types of insects on earth. There are more than 12,000 species of ants and they live almost everywhere on earth except for Greenland, Iceland and a few other islands. 

Since they live almost everywhere, it’s inevitable that you’ll cross paths with ants sometimes. Most species aren’t hazardous to humans but some are a threat because they’re venomous or particularly aggressive. If you know which ant species to avoid, you can steer clear of danger. Want to know which ants to look out for, according to the experts at Dugas Pest Control? Read on.

Red imported fire ant
Red imported fire ant

The Most Dangerous Ants in America

The field ant is a very common ant species in the eastern two-thirds of the US. They typically build their nests underground or sometimes in or under rotting wood. While they’re not venomous or aggressive, they are included in this list because they’re common in much of the US and will bite you if you disturb their nest.

Despite the name, the velvet ant isn’t really an ant. It’s a fuzzy red and black-striped wasp, but the females of the species are often misidentified because they lack wings. What they have is a venomous and extremely painful sting, which has given this insect the nickname “cow-killer” in the eastern US where it lives.

There are numerous species of harvester ants in the US, many of which are relatively harmless. However, two species, the Maricopa harvester ant and Florida harvester ant are very dangerous. The Maricopa harvester ant is one of the most common ant species in Arizona and lives throughout the southwestern US as well as in Mexico. It’s believed to have the most toxic insect venom on earth. The Florida harvester ant is common from Florida to North Carolina and its venom is also extremely powerful. It’s more toxic than a cobra’s venom! 

The red imported fire ant is native to South America but was accidentally introduced to the US in the 1930s and is hands down the most dangerous type of ant in America. Their venom is particularly nasty, not just causing burning and swelling of the victim’s skin but creating itchy pus-filled blisters that can last for a week or more. As if that’s not enough of a reason to steer clear of these ants, significant numbers of people stung by these ants go into anaphylactic shock. Texas A&M University estimates that 14 million people per year are stung by these insects, mostly in the southeast. More than 80 deaths due to red imported fire ant stings have been reported in the US.

How do Ants Bite?

Ants use their mandibles (jaws) to bite the skin of their target and then release formic acid – an irritating chemical – on the skin of the target. Ant bites usually cause redness, swelling and irritation. Some people are allergic to formic acid and they may experience more serious symptoms, like those that accompany an ant sting. 

How do Ants Sting?

While almost all ants have mandibles to bite with, only some have stingers and venom. Fewer still have venom potent enough to be hazardous to humans. 

When ants sting, they’ll lock their mandibles in the skin of their target and release formic acid like when they bite. Then they’ll rotate the rear of their body, jab their stinger into the skin and inject venom. The longer it takes to remove them, the more times the target can be stung, the more venom will be injected and the more painful it will be. Ant venom, especially fire ant venom, can also cause an allergic reaction which may include: itchiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, hives, and tightness in the chest, or difficulty breathing.

Experienced Ant Exterminators in Baton Rouge LA

Dugas Pest Control has been eliminating ants from homes and businesses in Baton Rouge LA since 1957. If you have ants in or around your home, especially if you suspect they may be fire ants, don’t wait until after you, your family, or your pet is bitten or stung. Contact us today

How to Prevent Tawny Crazy Ants from Spreading

Dugas Pest Control provides ant extermination services in New Orleans and Baton Rouge LouisianaFire ants are pretty much the worst, right?

Their painful stings and aggressive swarming behavior make them more than a nuisance – they can be dangerous.

But there’s a new ant moving into Louisiana that has some people wishing fire ants were the worst of their problems.

It’s called the Tawny Crazy Ant, and though the name sounds a little silly, these crazy ants should be taken seriously.

What makes these ants so “crazy?”

Originating in South America, crazy ants take out any competition in their territory, killing fire ants, bees, even birds. They can harm pets and livestock as well.

They were discovered in Texas back in 2002, and they got their name from the erratic, almost crazy way they move around. These tiny ants have colonies in the millions and BILLIONS, and they will infest your home quickly, killing all other pests that get in their way.

Tawny crazy ants have another crazy trait: they love electrical wiring. In fact the first time you discover them it may be because some of your home’s wiring or appliances short out (we’ve heard reports of them destroying A/C units, interior wiring, and even car electrical systems!).

Prevent crazy ants from moving into your home

Many typical pest control tactics don’t work on crazy ants, because they will nest inside your home as well as outdoors. They also aren’t typically attracted to the usual ant foods, like sugary spills or most ant baits, so control and prevention of crazy ants is highly specialized.

Here are the main things to consider when fighting crazy ants:

  • They love moist conditions, so ensure you have good drainage around your home, and remove fallen branches or debris they may find a home in.
  • Avoid spreading them to new locations: check anything from an infested location before moving it. Tawny crazy ants will hitch a ride on anything they can (even your car)!
  • Professional chemical control is preferred for this highly invasive and aggressive species. Consumer chemical products simply don’t work on crazy ants.
  • After treatment, piles of millions of dead ants will appear. These need to be removed to continue treating the surface underneath.

If you suspect you have Tawny Crazy Ants in or around your south Louisiana home, call Dugas Pest Control to get ahead of these pests. We can help you eliminate these invasive ants and work together to prevent their spread through our region.

Crazy Ants Arrive in South Louisiana!

To paraphrase Indiana Jones – “Why’d it have to be ants?”  And not just any ants. An invasive species of crazy ants, of course!

After a very trying couple of months that included massive flooding and widespread damage, residents of South Louisiana are coping now with another problem: invasive tawny crazy ants, which can cover an entire lawn and house faster than you can say “kudzu.”

“This species is also known as Rasberry crazy ants, named after the Texas pest professional who discovered them in 2002,” said Laura Simpson, President of Dugas Pest Control.   “We’ve been watching this species in Texas for quite some time, and it is now a growing concern for our area.   They seemed to disappear right after the flooding, but they are definitely back.”

One call came to Dugas Pest Control from a frantic homeowner after an entire neighborhood of six homes was completely covered by millions of the ants – not just the houses, but the yards as well. This was no ordinary Argentine ant invasion, and it called for an innovative response.

“Our service supervisor Daniel Hill knew he was dealing with something special so he started working out the best way to eliminate this shockingly huge infestation of ants,” said Simpson.

These ants eat protein, have more than one queen, and coat themselves in acid as a defense against other ants. Their sheer numbers can short out electrical and air conditioning systems, and when that happens, they send out alarms to other ants targeting those systems.

“This is a unique pest control problem,” says Simpson. “But at Dugas Pest Control, we have identified and implemented a professional broadcast treatment that works against these tough ants, as they make their way into our area.”

Simpson recommends calling a professional pest control company with any questions about this invasive species, but advises doing so before your entire neighborhood is covered with them. “The sooner we can get in there and start treating, the easier it’s going to be for us to get rid of those ants,” she says.

Tawny Crazy Ants Have Arrived in Louisiana

Have you heard of the Tawny Crazy Ant? It is an invasive species that has recently made it’s way into Louisiana. This incredible species can coat itself in formic acid as a defense against fire ant venom and also aggressively forages for their several queens.

Our own service supervisor, Daniel Hill was interviewed by Pest Management Professional on his first (and intense) experience in dealing with these resilient pests!

When a customer called to inform Daniel that his entire yard was covered in ants, Daniel thought that they were most likely Argentine ants, but was surprised to find out that they were not and were in fact, Tawny Crazy ants. Since no one had dealt with this species yet, Daniel had to do quite a bit of research to figure out how to exterminate them.

“I told the customer it was a new invasive species of ant, and that, at the time, there was no easy way to get rid of the pests, but that I was dedicated to keeping him safe and comfortable,” Hill recalls.

After different methods and no avail, Daniel discovered Louisiana was granted a quarantine exemption to use fipronil as a broadcast treatment, and that’s what ultimately did the trick.

Take Care of Those Pesky Tawny Ants and Fire Ants

Ants are a major problem whether they are inside of your home or taking over the backyard, and they can do quite a bit more damage than just ruining your picnic. Some types of ants tend to be far more trouble than the others are, including fire ants and tawny ants, also called raspberry ants. They even have the potential to be dangerous if you do not take care of them immediately. It’s important to understand a bit more about these troublesome pests to see why you really do need to make sure they are not on your property.

What Are Tawny Ants?

tawny ant is a relatively new invasive species to the area, and it is already causing quite a bit of consternation among those who are finding them on their property. They have massive colonies numbering into the millions. They have bodies that are about an eighth of an inch long with a reddish brown appearance. Another term for these ants is “crazy ant” because they crawl in erratic patterns and very rapidly. These types of ants do not have the typical nest mound either. Instead, they have their colonies beneath debris, rocks, fallen trees, timber, and similar items.

The ants can bite humans and animals, and they have been known to kill small livestock via asphyxia. They have also attacked larger animals around the eyes and the nasal passages. The tawny ants, which tend to gather in large masses, can also cause short circuits in electrical equipment. They can also clog the switching mechanisms. These ants will also eat nearly anything since they are omnivorous, and this means that if you have a colony of tawny ants on your property, they will likely make their way into your home at some point.

The colonies grow in the spring, and by the middle of the summer, there may be millions of worker ants in the colony. The numbers remain high until late fall.

What Are Fire Ants?

Fire ants are a huge problem in the area, and if you have them on your property, you need to remove them as soon as possible. These red insects are able to sting and inject venom into your skin that is very painful. The sting can cause swelling, redness, pain and blisters filled with pus that can last for up to eight days. Some people may be allergic to the stings, and this can cause the throat to swell, difficulty breathing, and an elevated heart rate.

The ants build large colonies in the dirt, and they tend to place those colonies in grassy areas, which just might be your backyard. They do not have a typical mound though, which might make them difficult to spot. Similar to the tawny ants, they will try to start their colonies under rocks, logs, and similar items. If those items aren’t available, they will create a mound.

Once they have a foothold on your property, they tend to take over quickly. They can be harmful to both people and animals, as they tend to be far more aggressive than other ant species are.

Getting Rid of Your Ant Problem

Tawny ants and fire ants can be quite a menace, as you can see. You do not have to let them take over your property though. Be proactive and contact us the minute you see any sign of these ants so we can evaluate the problem and provide you with the help you need. When you use the experts from Dugas Pest Control for your problem, you can be sure your family, your pets, and your picnics will be ant free.

What Types of Ants are in my Louisiana Yard?

Some people are of the mindset that an ant is just an ant…but this is far from true if you are trying to get rid of unwanted ants from your home or yard.

Let’s take a look at the various types of ants you may be finding in your southern Louisiana home so that you can learn more about where their nests are kept and how to get rid of them.

Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants are large, and they can be various colors, including red, orange and black. If you’ve been noticing activity late at night, you may have carpenter ants in your yard, as these ants are nocturnal and come out at dark, cruising along fences and tree limbs. Another telltale sign that you have carpenter ants is finding nests in trees and branches. Carpenter ants do not sting, but they will bite, so never reach into an ant nest.

Little Black Ants
Little black ants are a species of ants, and they include the tiny black and brown ants that are common in U.S. households. Even though black ants are an important part of our ecosystem, they can become a major headache when you find them in your yard. Plus, once they make it into your outdoor space, they’re one step closer to invading the inside of your home. These ants will eat just about anything, including other insects, sweets and oily foods. You will notice little black ants in large colonies, traveling along sidewalks and foundation walls.

Red Imported Fire Ants

Fire ants are found in the southern states, Louisiana included. They can be identified by their reddish-brown color and double pedicel (waist). Fire ants are good at hiding their mounds because you can’t see the entrance holes, but their aggressive behavior certainly gives them away. These ants nest outdoors, but they will have no problem entering your home in the late summer in order to find food and water.

Crazy Ants

Yes – crazy ants do exist! They are named this because of their fast, erratic movements. Crazy ants are found in habitats that are warm and humid, making Louisiana a great home. You are more likely to find crazy ants inside the home or in potted plants. But they can also nest outdoors, so keep an eye out for dark brown ants that have long legs and antennae, plus move very fast.

Leaf-Cutting Ants

Leaf-cutting ants have a very distinct look to them since they have long legs and three sets of spine on their thorax. They live in the soil and make mounds that are crater shaped and built together like a small town. Leaf-cutting ants get their name from their ability to carry freshly cut dried leaves to their nest. These leaves eventually turn into a type of fungus that the leaf-cutting ants eat for food.

Acrobat Ants

Acrobat ants look very similar to carpenter ants, so it’s easy to get them confused at first. The difference between acrobat ants and carpenter ants is that the acrobat species works during the day. They can be defensive when disturbed, and these motions are what lead the ants to be called acrobats (they balance their gasters into the air). You’ll be most likely to find acrobat ants in trees, but they will also migrate into the home, living in insulation and walls.

Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh ants are most likely to be found inside the home instead of the yard, but they may also be found in cardboard boxes or electrical  boxes outdoors. They are tiny and have a yellowish color with two pedicels. Pharaoh ants prefer living in dark, narrow spaces instead of in colonies in the ground. They are picky eaters as well, preferring foods that are high in sugar and protein.

Tired of Living with Ants?

There are many types of ants that can be found in your home or yard; little black ants and carpenter ants are the most common species found in the Baton Rouge area. That’s because little black ants and carpenter ants eat old leaves, wood and food scraps, and when there is a constant source of food, these ants will build nests so that they can return. While a few of these ants are certainly okay, multiple colonies are not.

These are the most common ants found in Louisiana, so there’s a good chance that what you’re seeing in your yard may come from one of the species listed above. There are many other ants as well, including field ants, ghost ants and odorous ants, so if you feel that you have a greater problem on your hand, contact the local, Baton Rouge based professional ant exterminators at Dugas Pest Control today.

5 Tips for Getting Rid of Ants

Dugas Pest Control provides ant extermination services in New Orleans and Baton Rouge Louisiana

It’s summertime, which means you’re probably seeing plenty of ants around your home. Getting rid of ants can be a difficult task because these insects have a stubborn way about them. Many products that you buy in the stores work directly on the ants to kill them, but you’ll have new ants at your doorstep the next day. This is why it’s important to adopt a plan that not only kills the ants on contact but also erases trails and wipes down new colonies.

With summer upon us, we’d like to offer the following tips for getting rid of

Tip 1 – Identify the Ants Properly

Many ants look the same, but you can learn a lot about the ones in your home if you find out what species it is. Take a close-up photo of the ant and email it to a local university, a local exterminator or do your own research online. When you identify the type of ants in your home, you can learn more about where they nest and how to get rid of them.

Incorrectly identifying ants is a big problem for homeowners trying to solve the problem themselves.  If you are not sure what type of ants you have, call us today for an inspection to ensure a correct identification.

Tip 2 – Keep the Home Clean

Your best defense against ants and other pests is simple: keep your home clean. Sweep up food crumbs, wipe up spills, wash dirty dishes and have trash securely wrapped in garbage bags. This can be difficult when you have a full house of kids on your hands, so consider purchasing a small dustbuster that can get crumbs and spills off the floor throughout the day. If you have pets, spray a mixture of vinegar and water (three parts water, one part vinegar) around the food bowls to keep ants away without disrupting Fido’s schedule.

Tip 3 – Erase Ant Trails

You never see just one ant. Where there is one, there is a hundred more. This happens because ants leave a scent trail for other ants to follow, so even if you eradicate the ants you see on the floor, others will follow shortly after. Unfortunately, cleaning the floors isn’t enough to erase this scent. Instead, mix vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray where you’ve seen ants. This should prevent them from continuing to look for food in your home and erase scent trails.

Tip 4 – Eradicate Ant Colonies

Unfortunately, using a vinegar and water solution isn’t enough to eradicate ants that are already living in your home. You will need a more powerful bait solution to take care of this problem. Interestingly, the ants you see crawling around initially are scent ants that are sent to scope out the area. Instead of killing these ants, learn from them so that you can wipe out the colony. Ants prefer fatty and oily foods in the summer, so purchase ant traps that are geared to this taste. Set out the bait trap and wait. You will see more ants at first, but don’t worry. This means more of the ants will eat the bait and share it with the colony. Ants have various taste preferences, so you may find that liquid bait works better one time, while solid bait works best another time.

Tip 5 – Spray Entry Points to the Home

Once you’ve been effective at using bait, you need to take proactive steps to make sure ants don’t return. Spray insecticides around doors and windows, and make sure that there are no gaps or cracks that lead into your home. These can be easily sealed up with caulk. It’s best to use insecticide sprays that contain permethrin or bifenthrin after you have used bait traps since they can interfere with them, and insecticides will not kill ants already in the home. You may also spray a barrier product around the perimeter of the home; look for products that say “barrier treatment” on the label.

Extra Tip – Call a Professional!

At the beginning of this article we promised 5 tips for getting rid of ants…but now we’ll offer you one free bonus tip!

Sometimes, ant problems get out of hand, especially when dealing with fire ants that are more resilient to traditional insecticides.  In fact, many homeowners call us after unsuccessfully trying to get rid of ants on their own.

If this is the case, call our team of professionals exterminator at Dugas Pest Control in Baton Rouge, Louisiana if you want a solution that will erase an ant problem for good!