The invasion of big-headed ants to Pinellas County over just the past few years has been fierce! This species of ant is very hard to control and this page will provide some help, education, and hopefully some insight as to how to live with theses invaders in our neighborhoods.
Big-headed ants are an exotic ant species that has been introduced to Florida by entering the state through our port systems on plants and other agricultural products. They are a mega colony ant, often having millions of ants in one colony that is a network that can extend through an entire neighborhood. More often than not, your property is not the only property that is affected by the colony and pest control measures may need to extend beyond your property.
These ants (like all ants) can be identified by us upon an initial pest service or free consultation. Big-headed ants have a similar color to the red imported fire ants but lack the stinger that the fire ants possess and therefore, big-headed ants do not sting humans. A good indicator of big-headed ants is the "major" ants in the colony. These ants have an oversized head and hence this is where they get their name from. I often joke that the majors are the security guards of the colony acting as protection and carrying out duties for the smaller ants such as cracking seed shells open, etc. A few places to look where they may be nesting: Under pavers (often displacing the dirt on top of the pavers from tunnels they have excavated under the pavers), under pots, along the perimeter of the house where it touches the soil, in cavities of large trees such as oaks or cedar, along sidewalks/driveways or cracks of driveways, and inside the home along the floor trim/baseboards where they often push dirt out from the walls.
The first thing to do is to call us to discuss your options. We provide comprehensive management plans. The preferred option is monthly pest service but we understand that a monthly service doesn't always fit your budget. Usually the most manageable option is a bimonthly service that treats both the inside and outside of your home or business. The goal is to push the ants out of your home or business, not to completely eliminate them from your property. As mentioned before, the ants live in mega colonies and sometimes treatment beyond just your property is needed to see a complete elimination. Things you can do to help limit them include but are not limited to: pick up items laying on the ground outside, seal up any holes on the inside or outside of the home ESPECIALLY if you see ants using them to access the walls, keep kitchen areas and bathrooms clean and free of food in sinks or on counters, keep pet food put away when not feeding pets, wipe up any ant trails inside the home with household cleaners, use granular fire ant bait on the outside of home to help control populations, keep trees well manicured and trimmed away from touching the house, and clean up pet waste or dropped fruits on the ground in the yard.
If you're using ANY CHEMICAL you buy yourself, be sure to READ THE LABEL very carefully to know the limitations and mixing instructions of that particular chemical. The label should be on the product but if not, you will be able to find it online.
Don't go it completely alone! We can help with any kind of plan to fit your budget and provide the help to manage the problem. In addition to that we don't suggest using baits inside your home. Baits invite the ants into your house and by doing that, create a network of pheromone trails that enter the home. Even if you eliminate the original group of ants, future ants may find these trails and create an ongoing issue for you to no end. In addition to that, often times, a bait left out for a long period of time will still have the sugary or protein base but the active ingredient pesticide will dissipate and will no longer kill the ants. I also caution you against spraying any chemicals on the outside of your home. Over the counter pest sprays have repellants built into them. The repellants will block those pheromone trails and often trap ants inside the home or building. Do not use dangerous chemicals or gasoline either as they will provide a potential environmental issue.
Education on this new and particularly difficult invader is key to understanding these ants. Please take time to not only research this site but also many others to educate yourself on this topic. Big-headed ants are on the list of the top 100 most invasive organisms in the world. BUT WE ARE HERE TO HELP! Call today and we can start a road to management and a control plan.