Army ants have been stigmatized and portrayed as indiscriminate killers in films like The Naked Jungle and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but we believe that this misperception is unwarranted.
Although they are terrifying and capable of causing devastation, they are also courageous and perform a crucial role in the overall scheme of things. But if army ants invade your home, they may be a terrible pest. Then, how to get rid of army ants? There are numerous actions that can be taken to get rid of them.
Army Ants: What Are They?
The enormous, aggressive colonies of army ants make them one of the most well-known ant species. Army ants come in 200 different species, the most of which are found in tropical areas including South America, Asia, Central America, and Africa.
However, some army ant species do exist in the Southern region of the United States. Army ants can cause havoc on some ecosystems by rapidly diminishing vital food supplies for beneficial wildlife because they breed so quickly.
Fortunately, this type of army ant is not present in the United States. Army ants do exist in the United Regions, mainly in the southern and humid states, although they don’t act as aggressively as tropical army ants do. US army ants mostly prey on smaller ant species, but they have been known to kill chickens, goats, lizards, snakes, and other small mammals.
In their never-ending search for food, these ants, who are known to develop nests with several million members, are known to send out armies of up to 200,000 ants when they go hunting. The armies can even ball up when confronted with water, enabling them to cross minor bridges and streams.
Army ants, also referred to as Ecitoninae Spp, are made up of a queen ant, worker ants, and soldier ants. While the worker ants and soldier ants of the queen usually disappear within a few weeks, the queen and her fast reproducing colony can survive for up to 20 years.
A healthy queen army ant can lay up to 30,000 eggs per day and 4 million eggs per month on average. Due to their migratory nature, army ants can be a significant issue.
Are Army Ants Dangerous?
The danger posed by army ants is frequently minimized online. If you conduct a search, you’ll probably find contradictory information. I wouldn’t want army ants close to my home based on what I’ve personally witnessed.
These pests swarm their prey in large numbers, quickly destroying and killing slow-moving prey.
You should NEVER think army ants are innocuous, despite the fact that it’s more common in isolated, rural locations with bad infestations.
Always seek advice from a certified exterminator before taking any action on your own.
They may bite you painfully, which may cause an allergic reaction. Avoid all contact with army ants if you are allergic to them or aren’t sure. Hire a qualified exterminator to take care of it for you.
When given the chance, army ants can and will bite on people. In a typical home, this doesn’t happen very often, but in rural regions, especially when army ants are active, it happens frequently.
This video illustrates how these ants typically seem (and why they have a poor reputation):
No matter the species you are dealing with, they are dangerous to deal with and should not be handled lightly.
The aggressive tropical species will bite, sting, or swarm. A specialist should be hired if you are unsure of the species you have.
Army ants will also bite and consume anything that is much larger than themselves. Since they cooperate to take it down, they don’t care how huge their objective is.
Army ants may choose to attack people who are dozing off, unresponsive, or even intoxicated. Never undervalue their collective power.
Army ants can also transfer viruses and germs. They forage, crawl, and eat anything, including small rodents and various insects, both alive and dead.
They can easily bring this into your home and contaminate food and surfaces by carrying tons of bacteria on their bodies. As a result, their existence should never be taken for granted.
Consider your level of experience, the accessibility of protective gear, and your level of confidence and understanding of the problem before attempting any DIY fix on your own.
Before implementing any plan of action on your own, seek advice from a qualified specialist. The majority of consultations and assessments from bigger pest control firms are free.
Read: Get Rid of Ants Car
Army Ant Identification
Army ants are unmistakable. Their huge, scissor-like mandibles help them stand out; they are 0.5 inches long. In other parts of the world, people have been known to use these amazing jaws to “staple” things together or aid close massive wounds, but in the US, people usually just avoid these terrifying-looking jaws.
Army ants can be any color from brown to black, although they usually have abdominis that are orange or lighter in hue. Their legs are either dark brown or orange, while their heads are lighter in color, ranging from pale orange to brown.
But it’s their sheer numbers, not their color or their amazing mandibles, that will let you know when army ants are nearby.
Army ants are distinguished by their extraordinary capacity to construct nests out of their own bodies and their ability to move quickly in large colonies. In truth, army ants frequently feed at night and rest during the day when they are in motion. Army ants will link to one another using their mandibles to form an ant mount before going to sleep. They guard their queen and her young inside the mound.
As soon as dusk falls, the living mound disintegrates, and the army ants resume their journey.
Army Ants Morphology
Within the army ant colony, there are various castes. The following are these social roles:
Most of the time, worker ants are sterile females who perform almost all of the colony’s tasks. They look after the queen, the eggs, return food to the nest, and, if required, they defend the nest. They live for around a year on average.
They are the biggest ants in the nest, and they have the primary responsibility of guarding the nest and eliminating any prospective intruders. They cannot eat because of the size of their enormous mandibles, which serve as weapons. The employees assist in feeding them.
Army ants only have one queen, but other ant species can have several. She can live for up to 20 years and is the biggest ant in the colony. The colony’s matriarch, the queen, may produce almost 4 million eggs in a single month.
Sausage ants are another name for male army ants. No, it’s unrelated to their genitalia. It’s actually due to their large, cylinder-shaped midsection.
Army ant males only exist to reproduce, and they have specialized genitalia. Males leave the nest as soon as they are hatched to look for a queen. In the colony, they are the only ants that leave on their own.
Army Ant Life Cycle
Army ants have a complicated life cycle. The migrating and sedentary lifestyles of these species will occur in two stages.
This is due to the fact that they must feed enormous ant colonies, which causes them to quickly exhaust the local food supply. As a result, they are constantly moving to the next site in search of food.
Every month, the queen deposits millions of eggs. They are laid while the army ants are gathered into a barrier to safeguard the queen and larvae inside during the immobile period.
The entire colony remains in one place for the duration of the larvae’s sluggish, 1-2 week development; therefore, the name stationary.
Army ants that are foraging will probably start entering your home and garden at this time.
The larvae require sustenance continuously as they grow.
The scouts will go out hunting during the day to look for food, and they will enlist helpers to help them bring back any prey (which can be anything from spiders, rodents, and even large animals like goats).
During this stage of their life cycle, they will be constantly searching for food to feed the larvae and the rest of the nest. During the nomadic stage, both the queen and the colony are movable.
The larvae don’t need to eat during this stage because they are already pupating. Foraging activity decreases to around 2/3 of what it was initially. The queen keeps making deposits, and the other ants go about their daily business.
The colony enters the nomadic phase once more after the adult ants emerge and the queen becomes migratory.
The queen determines everything:
- The colony is stationary if the queen is producing eggs.
- The colony is migratory and looking for new food to feed the developing larvae if the queen is moving about.
Army ants can consume anything since they must feed a large population, but the larvae are their top priority. They are experts in consuming other ant species.
Why Army Ants Invaded Your Home?
Army ants are a nomadic species, thus it’s likely that they were simply straying and occurred to pass by your property. You might end up with these pests inside your home if they decide to stop on your property for a few weeks to reproduce and hunt.
Army ants frequently feed on insects like other ants, beetles, spiders, scorpions, earwigs, roaches, and just about any other kind of pest you can think of. These and other insects, as well as spiders, scorpions, spider webs, and other potential attractants, may cause army ants to come to your property.
Army ants can enter your home through cracks in your siding or foundation even though they are typically outdoor pests. They may easily find their way into your home and then proceed to your pantry, where they will eat anything they can get their hands on.
Army Ant Infestation Indicators
Army ant infestations leave behind glaring clues. The enormous colony and ant trail make it easy to determine whether you have them or not.
The following are typical indications of an infestation:
Army ant “scouts” that are readily seen foraging for food Ant colonies in your trees or soil
Debris or clutter from detritus
How to Get Rid of Army Ants
It’s advisable to get rid of army ants as soon as possible if you have a problem with them. We’ve included a few solutions for getting rid of these intruders from your house or yard.
Flood the nests with water
Another approach is to completely submerge the army ant nest in water. The ants that don’t drown will move on in search of a more ant-friendly house, but it isn’t a permanent solution and won’t wipe out the entire colony.
Use commercial ant spray
Consider purchasing a commercial spray to get rid of army ants for a simple, quick treatment. There are many options available, and you can pick one that kills them immediately or one that takes a while to work.
As the leftover will also kill the ants in the nest, we prefer the latter. However, if you want an immediate fix and are concerned about getting devoured alive, choose the quick-kill option.
Never forget to read and carefully follow the directions. Additionally, avoid using hazardous sprays around food, pets, and children.
Directly pour apple cider upon the nest
Pouring apple cider straight onto the nest will get rid of army ants in a secure and non-toxic manner. Simply prepare a solution with equal parts water and apple cider, and mist it on the ants. You don’t have to worry about kids or animals getting into it because it’s so simple to operate.
Make a soapy army ant killer
Army ants can be removed using soap and water. With one third liquid soap and two thirds water, you can create your own soapy water solution. For greatest effect, directly spray the liquid onto the ants.
Add some cornmeal
The kryptonite of army ants is cornmeal. They adore the food but are unable to digest it. They devour it, swell up, and eventually starve to death. Although it takes some time, the treatment is efficient and completely safe to use even if you have children or pets at home.
Pesticide-soaked cotton wool balls
Cotton wool balls soaked in a pesticide and little water are a quick and easy approach to get rid of army ants in your home. Because they lack vision, ants will mistake the balls for food. These are then brought back to the nest, where the colony consumes them.
The cotton wool bomb will kill the ants that brought it and alert the other ants that they have been defeated, even if it doesn’t make it back to the nest.
Boric acid with mint jelly
The combination of mint jelly and boric acid is another concoction that effectively eradicates army ants. You might also try combining the boric acid with sugar, honey, peanut butter, or plain butter, depending on the ant species.
This won’t kill them right away, like our other home cures, but after a few days, you should start notice a decrease in population.
Apply an ant trap
You might use an ant trap to get rid of army ants if you would rather have a more long-lasting solution. This bait is brought back to the nest, where the queen and the rest of the colony consume it and perish. Similar to sprays, some baits have an immediate effect while others take longer to take effect, giving the ants time to bring the bait back to the colony.
Call in experienced exterminators if all else fails and you feel like you are winning the battle but losing the war. They’ll be able to find the nest and permanently eradicate your ant infestation. There is no use in being a prisoner in your own home, even if it is by no means the least expensive option.
Read: How to Get Rid of Water Bugs that Invade Home
After you succeed to get rid of army ants, absolutely you dont want them to come back again to your home. Here is some prevention tips:
Keeping your house tidy
Army ants are constantly looking for fresh food sources to keep their ant colony alive. You should maintain your house tidy and devoid of any ant-accessible food sources.
Because they can’t find anything to eat within your property, this will assist get rid of army ants outside your house. It’s likely that scouts have eaten everything outside if you notice them scavenging inside your house.
Here are a few advices:
- Never leave food outside all day.
- Eating at a table
- Immediately take food out and discard it.
- As soon as possible, remove any food stains, pieces, or crumbs.
- Immediately clean up any spillage.
- Immediately after eating, wash your dishes.
- Remove all waste from your premises that ants might devour.
- Army ants don’t just eat from the kitchen; look for food sources in your yard, basement, bathroom, and garage.
- Lock up your garbage can.
- Vacuum your home frequently.
- Incorporate natural ant repellant or spray around your disposal places.
Keeping your home clean of food will naturally keep the army ants away, as simple as it may appear.
Where there is no food, they do not build an ant colony. This is THE most efficient way to permanently get rid of ants and prevent them from ever completely infesting your home.
But it’s far more difficult than it seems. The couch gets covered in food crumbs. Spilled sticky drinks leave stains on the carpet.
The microwave also isn’t self-cleaning. Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain as much cleanliness in your home as you can. Just be careful not to overlook obvious food sources that ants can easily obtain.
Don’t forget that army ants feed on rubbish and other trash. This means that you should dispose of anything food that you have around them:
- Bird feeders
- Pet food
- Sticky residues
- Dead insect
- Leaf litter
- Small animals
- Small rodents
- Plant debris
Use bleach to clean
Use bleach to clean your kitchen frequently. Army ants have a keen sense of smell and find it extremely offensive. This will serve as a deterrent for those considering moving in and help get rid of any ants that are currently present in the home.
If at all feasible, remove any mulch. This substance facilitates insect infestation and retains surplus moisture, which is known to attract a variety of moisture-loving bugs.
Mulch is an useful building material since ants can simply dig and uncover it. Army ants might come into other ant species or other insects that they could assault.
So it’s preferable to completely stop using mulch. Never lay mulch next to or in close proximity to your home’s foundation.
If you’re using it as decoration, switch to another non-organic material. The effort of dealing with insects like jumping spiders, asparagus beetles, crane flies, and even sawflies that are found in mulch is not worth it. Sand, pebbles, river rocks, or stones can be used in their place.
Maintain a clean yard
The ants will initially be drawn to your property in your yard. Army ants will search your home for food and a suitable location to establish a colony if your atmosphere is conducive to them.
Army ants are migratory and will erect a temporary colony before moving on. So you might have a short-term ant issue.
Even so, you shouldn’t disregard the problem since future army ant generations might use your yard as a temporary ant “hotel” if you allow them to establish a nest someplace in your garden.
In addition, you don’t want to be the one who has deal with them because of the immovable nest. So, as soon as you see indications of an infestation, get rid of them. Stop waiting.
One of the MOST effective things you can do to get rid of and avoid army ants in the first place is to keep your yard clean and organized.
In addition to regularly trimming, mowing, and pruning your plants, you should also get rid of any extra leaves. You should get rid of any weeds, unattended plants, and overgrown foliage.
Because there are fewer plants that produce detritus, this will help keep your yard pest-free and make it easier for you to maintain your garden.
Keep plants trimmed
They have many of places to hide, seek for prey, and establish ant colonies because there is foliage, plant materials, and leaf litter all around.
In addition, the waste around the garden attracts pests like carpenter ants, soldier beetles, and plaster bagworms, all of which enjoy a filthy yard.
Maintain your lawn by performing regular upkeep (which you should already be doing). If your garden is a complete wreck, invest a weekend (or two) to tidying it up. Alternately, pay a gardener to handle the task.
Get rid of any foliage touching your home
Army ants can enter your home via bridges made by plants that surround it and come into contact with its walls, windows, or foundation.
Consider them as channels that pests can use to enter your property and cause damage. You ought to cut back or get rid of these plants.
You should keep an eye out for pest activity on any greenery that comes into contact with your house. It’s preferable to simply remove them or move the plant entirely. Look out for plants that cling to your fences, trellises, and walls.