Ants are social insects that live in colonies that may include thousands of members.
As a social insect, works or functions in a colony are divided among three different social groups or castes.
The three castes are workers, males and queens.
Ants live in a family unit called colony around which they organise their social bonding among members of the family.
The size of a colony grow over times.
An ant colony, especially the tramp ants, if left uncheck could grow to extremely huge size called Super-colony.
In 2004, an ant super-colony was found in Melbourne, Australia measuring approximately 100 km wide.
Tramp ants are ant species that hitchhike on human commerce transportation like ships and planes, establish readily and spread widely throughout the world.
They usually have multiple Queens in one colony and live close association with humans.
One of the distinct characteristics of tramp ants are they frequently move their nests if current nest site conditions are not favourable.
They are also capable of producing bud-colonies where new Queens walks together with workers from the original colony to a new site and set up a sub-colony over there.
These ant species are normally difficult to control because they form Super-colony that could cover a large area.
Swarming or mating fight is a phenomena observed in ant colonies where thousands of winged ants (both females and males) flying out from a nest, mate and establish new colonies away from the original colony.
This is a common practice carried out by the non-tramp ant species.
Ant swarming is triggered by certain temperature and moisture condition (rain).
One of the reason why ant swarming normally occurs in great numbers is only a few of the thousands swarmers would succeed into forming a new colony.
Workers are the most numerous group of ants in a colony.
They are sterile (non-productive) females.
Some species have different sizes of workers, the larger (major) workers have different job functions than the smaller (minor) workers.
Some ant species have only one size workers but divide job functions by age.
Older workers foraging food whilst younger workers feed and protect larvae inside the nest.
Some ant workers can live up to 7 years.
Males are normally same size or larger than workers and have wings.
They are produced in mature and large colonies with only function to mate with the Queen.
They die shortly after they mate with the Queen.
Queens are the largest members in a colony, normally two to three times larger than workers.
They initially have wings but shed off after mating.
They are the only females that lay eggs, reside inside the nest and can live up to 15 years.
Some ant species have only one queen but other species like tramp ants may have several queens in a colony.
Ants have a wide variety of nesting habits.
Most ant species build their nests outdoor, but some would build nests indoor.
Outdoor ants would build their nests in soil or in decaying or moist damaged wood.
Indoor ants would build their nests behind moulding, baseboards, countertops, and so on side the house.
Some ant species, the tramp ants, are highly migratory and very often they would move their nests from one place to another.
In outdoor, most of the ant species would feed on dead or living insects. Most species also feed on honeydew, a sweet liquid produced by aphids, mealybugs and scale insects.
Ants foraging inside a building normally feed on a wide variety of food including starches, sweets, meats, fats and others.
It is because this type of food is found abundant in human dwellings and ants foraging them in great numbers, thus make ants are one of the most important household pests.
Ants are highly migratory.
Depending on the size of a colony, worker ants could cover a wide area foraging for food.
They enter our home through gaps and holes on walls, doors or windows.
Many ant species, the tramp ants, manage to disperse worldwide through human commerce and live close association with humans.
The life cycle of the ant consists of four stages, i.e. egg, larva, pupa and adult.
A: Egg – Ant eggs are oval shaped and tiny (about 1 mm long), but queen’s egg is many times larger. Fertilized eggs produce female ants (queens, workers or soldiers) whilst unfertilized eggs produced male ants.
B: Larva – worm-like larvae have no eyes and no legs. They eat food regurgitated by adult ants. Larvae would shed their skin several times as they increase in size.
C: Pupa – After larvae reaching certain size, a larva spins a silk-like cocoon around itself and pupates. During this time the larva would transform into adult form.
D: Adult – Finally the adults emerge in the form of queens, workers or male ants.
The entire life cycle might last between 6 to 10 weeks.