Ant. (Order: Hymenoptera, Family: Formicidae)
Ants, bees, wasps and horntails are insects in the hymenopteran order. There are over 12,000 known ant species in the world. Some ants farm aphids or scale insects on plants and ornamentals for their “honeydew” excretions.
This fostering can be harmful to these plants and shrubs. Ants are social insects that produce colonies. Most ants in a colony are known as workers and are wingless. They forage for food, defend the colony and rear the young. Ants’ sting or bite and can cause conflict with humans for habitat. Ant colonies can contain tens of thousands of workers with some male and female ants that can have wings and are used for mating, usually in flight during swarming. After mating, the male winged ant or drone, dies and the mated females lose their wings and seek a habitat to build a chamber. There are many ant species in the Las Vegas area. Some of the most common are:
This ant is an invasive species and is now one of the most common in the Las Vegas area, infesting homes and yards and landsing. This ant usually becomes the predominate ant in competition with other species. Argentine ants can form large and interconnected colonies with multiple queens and workers that become “super colonies’. This can lead to expansion by budding to new colonies and make this ant very difficult to control. This ant is about 3 mm long and light to dark brown in color.
The southern fire ant is usually bicolored and has a reddish brown head and thorax with a darker abdomen to almost black in color. There are two size workers from 1.6 mm to 5.8 mm. This ant has a painful sting and is omnivorous, feeding on plant and animal matter like insects, garbage, carcasses, seeds and grease. This ant forms trails and moves slower than other worker species of ants.
This ant is the largest in the United States, often 6 to 12 mm in length. They excavate their nests in wood and pile up sawdust at the opening. The carpenter ant does not eat wood like termites do, but usually prefer to build nests in soft, decayed or water damaged wood and this can cause structural damage. This ant does not sting but can pinch with their jaws.
Pharaoh ants have adapted to live and nest indoors, making them persistent, hard to control and a nuisance pest. They are small and yellow or pale red in color. This ant can readily bud into another colony without swarming and fragment throughout a building. They like feeding on sweets, grease and other insects. Special consideration for Pharaoh ants need to be given in hospitals as these ants have been known to crawl in and out of open wounds.
Other species of ants found in southern Nevada include the Thief ant, Acrobat ant, Odorous house ant, Velvety tree ant, Bigheaded ant and Ghost ant.