Bug Blog

What Motivates Ants To Establish Nests Within Homes As Opposed To Their Natural Habitat?

The majority of common ant pest species require moist living conditions in order for colonies and eggs to mature properly. Some of these thirsty ant pest species include citronella ants, Pharaoh ants, Argentine ants, crazy ants, big headed ants, red-imported fire ants, pavement ants, odorous house ants, and several carpenter ant species, which were named for their occasional habit of infesting moist and/or decayed structural and cosmetic wood sources on and within structures. Although Arizona’s climate is excessively dry, the state is home to a particularly large number of ant pest species, including most of the ants listed above. The most commonly encountered ant pest species that inhabit the southwest desert region include southern fire ants, carpenter ants, Pharaoh ants and several harvester ant species. Several Arizona ant species infest homes by establishing one single indoor nesting site, but in most cases, and pests establish an outdoor “parent nest” located close to a home before worker ants establish one or several smaller “satellite nests” inside of the home.

There are several reasons why ant species choose to establish nests within homes as opposed to their natural habitat. For example, some ant pest species see reproductive winged ants invade and nest in homes when adequate nesting sites and food sources are lacking in their natural habitat. Also, food sources are sometimes easier to come by within homes than in the natural environment, and in these cases, ant pest species that nest solely within their natural habitat may rely exclusively on human food sources within homes for sustenance. Argentine ants are one of these pests, and they often establish nests in close proximity to structures, which allows many foraging workers easy and repeated access to indoor food sources. Each worker ant then carries crumbs and other human food scraps back to their outdoor nest in order to provide food for the entire colony. Crazy ants, and several tramp ant species also nest near Arizona homes in order to take advantage of indoor food sources, as well as the warmth that emanates from heated homes during cooler months.

Sealing the cracks, crevices and other entry points in a home’s exterior walls and foundation is often effective at preventing ants from physically relocating their nests into homes when outdoor weather conditions become extreme. Sealing exterior entry points is usually effective at preventing foraging worker ants from marching in an out of homes to steal human food. When it comes to reproductive winged ants, installing wire mesh barriers on attic vents and crawl space entrances in addition to sealing exterior entry points is almost always effective at preventing these pests from swarming indoors where they establish new colonies.

Have you ever stumbled across and ant nest within a wall void or beneath baseboards while remodeling a home?