Big-Headed Ants

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CHARACTERISTICS

 This type of ant has two very distinct sizes of workers. The larger ones, called major workers are easily identified by their extremely large head in comparison to its body. The head of the minor worker is in proportion to its body.  Typically, there are 50 minor workers to every 1 major worker. They big-headed ants are usually reddish-brown in color.

BEHAVIOR:

Big-headed ants establish well-defined trails between the nest and food and water sources. They feed on a wide variety of foods including dead insects, plant materials and garbage. Fruit trees, roses, and many shrubs serve as hosts for aphids and may contribute to ant infestations in homes and other buildings. Some species of Big-headed ants, establish large colonies consisting of dozens and sometimes hundreds of “subcolonies” connected by trails. These supercolonies have been found to extend over large portions of a city block, making control efforts on a single property quite difficult to achieve. They have been known to construct mud tubes that can resemble those made by subterranean termites, although this behavior is not common.

HABITATS

Big-headed ants nest in the soil around homes and structures, most commonly found nesting outdoors beneath landscape stones, logs, and timbers. Inspect and look inside the soil of potted plants many times inside infestations may be traced to planters. In addition, big-headed ants may be found nesting beneath slab foundations and entering through cracks in the slab. These ants will nest inside rotted wood or will excavate old termite-damaged wood to make a nest.

TIPS FOR CONTROL

The Big-headed ant will tunnel and excavate in the soil around your home, look for piles of dirt to identify the colony.  Most colonies are relatively small and easy to treat, but treating infestations involving multiple colonies can be more complicated. General tips for limiting ant infestations include:

  • Eliminate piles of lumber, stone,  or other debris from around your home that could serve as a nesting site for ants.
  • Ensuring the sprinkler system does not spray onto the foundation of your home.
  • Sealing as many cracks in the building’s exterior as possible.

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