White Footed Ants
The white-footed ant, Technomyrmex albipes (Fr. Smith) has been making news in Florida over the last few years as a pest ant of major importance.
The white-footed ant is a medium small (2.5-3 mm long), black to brownish-black ant with yellowish-white tarsi (feet) and a one-segmented waist.
Primary reproductive kings and queens swarm from the colony in July and August in South Florida to start new colonies. The existing colony can also form new colonies by budding, a process in which fertile queens leave the old colony with other nest mates to start a new nesting site.
A white-footed ant swarm can be quite large and alarming to the home owner especially if the swarm occurs within the structure.
The home owner may not realize they have a white-footed ant problem until they see continuous trailing on the exterior of their home and at this stage, the colony may be quite large.
White-footed ants reproduce in large numbers, especially considering that they don't have the obvious defensive capabilities of many other ants such as a venomous sting, chemical sprays, or soldiers with strong, biting mandibles. Nearly half of the entire WFA colony is composed of fertile, reproductive females called intercastes.
White Footed Ant Control Issues
What makes white-footed ants such a formidable pest to control is that they are a niche ant and under the right circumstances can form very large colonies (1 million and above) and displace other ant species within their foraging range.
- White-footed ants are canopy - tent nesters with exceptional ability in arboreal nesting and foraging. Being arboreal in nature makes treatment difficult. Ants can move from trees and shrubs directly to structures without touching the ground.
- White-footed ants use of trophic eggs (unfertilized eggs) as a food source. Unfertilized females lay trophic eggs (unfertilized eggs) which can be used as a food source.
- White-footed ants have very high reproductive capabilities compared to other ant species. Because of the extremely high reproductive rate, cnce large colonies are established control becomes difficult.
- White-footed ants rarely exchanges food with other nest mates, thereby making baiting less effective because very little food is exchange between ants.
Suggestions to Preventing a White-Footed Ant Infestation
- Do not store any items close to or against the foundation.
- Extend A/C drip line 12” away from foundation.
- Clean leaf litter from gutters and downspouts.
- Remove leaf litter and debris from under ornamentals, shrubs, and on turf .
Even though the white-footed ant is a formidable pest to control once they are established, if there is cooperation between the homeowner and pest control operator, white-footed ants can be controlled.
The first step in control is doing a through inspection to determine the extent of the infestation.
After the inspection, a treatment plan is created and it may involve several steps involving both the homeowner and pest control operator depending on the inspection findings. A combination of preventive measures along with pesticide treatment which may include treatment of the turf, trees and ornamentals may be required.
Depending on the situation, several treatments may be necessary for control and a maintenance program may have to be put into place to maintain control.
Contact Arrow today at (800) 226-3139 for your FREE property evaluation.
Photos courtesy of PestWorld.org.