Bug Blog

Which Ant Pests Live In Close Association With Humans, And What Factors Make Them Difficult To Control?

Certain ant species are known for primarily living alongside humans, and compromise the most annoying and difficult to control ant pests that humans have to deal with. These particularly pestilent ant species are commonly grouped together and referred to as “tramp ants”.  Ant species that are included in this group all have specific characteristics that they share that make them “tramp ants,” and some of the ant species commonly included in this group are Argentine ants, crazy ants, ghost ants, pharaoh ants, odorous house ants, and pavement ants. They are generally found all over the world, are significant household ant pests, and some tramp ant species are known for attacking crops. While not all tramp ants exhibit all of these characteristics, they each display a majority of them.

All tramp ant species have adapted to living alongside humans, and are only present in large numbers in areas that have been developed to support human habitation, and where the natural landscape has been largely disrupted and adapted to suit humans. They also have a unique ability to move easily from place to place, moving to non-native regions by hitching rides within human belongings and large shipments coming in from other countries, hiding in things like plant material, shipping containers, and pallets, just to name a few.

Most tramp ants have colonies that contain multiple queens, which allows them to survive and adapt to almost any kind of catastrophe. Even if most of the colony is destroyed, as long as one queen and a few workers survive, they can branch off or relocate and rebuild the colony. This characteristic is also linked with tramp ant’s practice of having multiple nesting sites, with a number of satellite nests and subcolonies that are interconnected by trunk trails. This is one thing that makes them so difficult to control, as finding and destroying every site can be nigh impossible, allowing the ants to simply rebuild those destroyed sites and continue to infest the same home even after it has been treated for ant pests. Related to this practice of establishing multiple nesting sites, tramp ants often have a tendency to disperse the colony by budding, where one of the subcolonies actually breaks off from the main colony to create an entirely new and separate colony elsewhere. This allows them to easily move and spread to other areas whenever the opportunity arises, particularly when using humans to move to another area. It also ensures the survival of the colony in the event that one or more subcolonies or the parent nest is destroyed by pest control professionals. These characteristics and more make tramp ants some of the most difficult invasive ant pests to control, and a major pain for humans to deal with.

Have you ever had an infestation of one the tramp ant species?