About Ants

Ants are tiny and mighty creatures. There are 10,000+ species and they outnumber humans one-million-to-one. Colonies can contain 5 million ants! If your home or yard is infested, these pests can make your life miserable and do a great deal of damage. Some types of ants bite, others can turn wood beams to dust or spread food-borne diseases in your kitchen.

You need professional help to find their nesting places. Bug Ivey can get the job done.

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Myths vs facts

  • Myth
    Ants and termites live separately and never co-mingle with each other.
  • Fact
    Both species will comingle without interrupting one another’s colonies or nests.

  • Myth
    Carpenter ants eat wood and process it just like termites.
  • Fact
    Termites eat wood. Carpenter ants build tunnels and use wood to build nests and reproduce.

  • Myth
    Ants eat leaves and process them to feed their colonies.
  • Fact
    There’s no documented proof that ants eat leaves, but they use leaves within their colonies to create and camouflage their nests.

  • Myth
    Chlorine, bleach, ammonia, detergents or drain cleaners can be put down a fire ant mound to stop fire ants.
  • Fact
    All methods are dangerous and will only cause fire ants to move away from that area and set up a new colony elsewhere.

  • Myth
    Draw chalk lines around your windowsill and door. Ants don’t like particles stuck to their feet.
  • Fact
    Ants will walk through chalk lines because it doesn’t affect them or repel them.

  • Myth
    All ants can be killed by spraying.
  • Fact
    Spraying certain species of ants, such as pharaoh and Argentine, will cause them to repel from the spray and form multiple colonies in a process known as budding.

  • Myth
    All ant species have one queen and one colony.
  • Fact
    Depending on the species, there might be multiple queens at any given time.

  • Myth
    Feed ants grains because they can’t process it- it will cause their stomachs to explode.
  • Fact
    The consumption of grains by ants doesn’t adversely affect their stomachs and cause them to explode.

  • Myth
    Queen ants can live 10 years. Worker ants can live as long as a year.
  • Fact
    Worker ants have a life expectancy of 45 to 60 days. Queen ants can live 30 years, thanks to long naps during her lifetime.

  • Glossary
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The last segment of the body is the gaster. In most ants it is smooth in outline, but in some the first segment is separated from the remainder by a shallow constriction, and in a very few each segment is separated by shallow constrictions. A sting is often visible at the tip of the gaster, although it is retractable and may not be visible even when present. In some ants the sting is absent and the tip of the gaster terminates in a small, slit-like or circular, glandular opening. Finally, the upper plate (tergite) of the last segment of the gaster is called the pygidium.


The most important taxonomic structures on the head are the antennae, palps and clypeus. The antennae are composed of two major parts, the long first segment, the scape, which is attached to the head, and the remaining shorter segments, collectively called the funiculus. The important characteristics of the antennae include the number of segments (when counting the number of segments, the scape is always included), the length of the scape (usually in relation to the length of the head), and, in some groups, the position of antennae when at rest against the front of the head.


The legs are composed of five main segments. The segment nearest the body is the coxa, followed by the very short trochanter (which is seldom used in ant taxonomy), the long femur and tibia, and finally the tarsus. The tarsus is composed of five small segments with a pair of small, curved claws at its tip. The claws are most commonly a single, curved shaft terminating in a sharp point. However, in some groups the claws can have from one to many small teeth along their inner margins. The junction of the tibia and the tarsus is usually armed with a large, stout, articulated, spike-like structure called the tibial spur. The number of spurs can be none, one or two, and they can be simple or comb-like (pectinate). These structures are best viewed from the front with the leg extending outwards from the body at right angles to its long axis.


The mesosoma, sometimes called the "alitrunk" in older literature, is the middle section of the body to which the legs are attached. It is behind the head and in front of the petiole. In workers the mesosoma is relatively simple, with a limited number of sutures and plates. Queens, however, have a much larger mesosoma with many sutures and plates. This additional complexity is required because queens typically have wings during the early part of their lives. The larger mesosoma houses the flight muscles and the additional sutures and plates are used to control the wings during flight.

Petiole and Postpetiole

The petiole is the first segment behind the mesosoma and is present in all ants. Behind the petiole is either the postpetiole or the gaster. The postpetiole is found in only some subfamilies of ants. When present, it forms a distinct segment separate from the gaster. The upper surfaces of the petiole and postpetiole are often high and rounded or angular. This upright structure is called the node. In some cases the node is absent and the petiole is low and tube-like. The narrow forward section of the petiole in front of the node is called the peduncle. This section can be long, short or absent. In many groups there is a subpetiolar process, a projection or lobe on the underside of the petiole near its attachment to the propodeum. This process varies from being absent to thin and pointed to broad and rounded. The petiole and postpetiole provide a flexible junction between the mesosoma and gaster. This allows an ant to bring the tip of the gaster forward towards the front of its body. In this position the sting or the opening for the defensive system can be used to subdue prey or attack intruders.


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