Everything You Need To Know About Ants

Ants are one of the most common household pests in Missouri. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make them any less annoying when they enter your home. Once ants have found their way in, homeowners attempt a variety of different methods to get rid of them. In order to truly eradicate ants, you must first understand their social structure and how they live. Below are some common questions and answers about these pesky insects. Understanding them can help you eradicate ants from your home once and for all. 

How Many Queen Ants Are In A Colony?

Some ants have more than one queen in their colonies. These are known as polygene colonies. More commonly, ant colonies are monogyne, meaning they have only one queen ant. 

Colonies will typically have more than one queen ant when the colony is new. This allows the ants to produce more offspring. Once a colony is developed though, the worker ants will typically kill additional queens until only one remain. Sometimes, they may kill the only queen as well, which eventually eliminates the entire colony. 

What Do Ants Eat?

Ants have a very diverse diet. While ants are omnivores, some species of ants prefer one type of food over others. Some ants eat animals, often other species of ants. Certain ants prefer protein such as meat and will look for it in small animals. Usually, when this is the case, ants will feed on dead or decaying animals. Dairying ants will keep a farm of aphids, tiny insects that destroy gardens. The ants will protect these farms from other animals and will milk the aphids for honeydew, a sweet substance aphids produce. 

Whatever the source of food is for a particular colony, worker ants will forage for it. As they do, they’ll leave a trail of pheromones for other ants to follow, so the food is easily found in the future. 

How Much Can An Ant Lift?

It’s been said that ants can lift up to twice their body weight. However, it’s much more than that. In fact, ants can carry up to 50 times their body weight. This is due to the fact that ants are so small. Their muscles are thicker, which means they can produce more force pound-for-pound. 

Do Ants Have Wings?

Certain ants develop wings, also called alates, in their reproductive stage. The wings allow the ants to fly, and they mate while in flight. Although these ants swarm in certain areas during this nuptial flight, they pose no harm to humans. After mating, the male will die. The females, now fertilized, will continue to fly, looking for a suitable place to nest. After finding an appropriate colony site, the female will settle there and shed her wings. As the queen begins to build the colony, she will use the wings, and the muscles she used to move them, as a food source until worker ants can start bringing her food.

Do Ants Bite Or Sting?

All ants have the ability to bite. Most will only do so when they feel threatened. After biting in defense, an ant will also sometimes spray a chemical onto the bite site to inflict further pain. Fire ants, on the other hand, bite only to get a grip. Once attached to the threat, these ants then use their stinger to inject venom into the threat or prey. 

A few species of ants that sting include:

  • Red imported fire ants
  • Acrobat ants
  • Harvester ants

Ants that bite include:

  • Field ants
  • Crazy ants
  • Carpenter ants

These are some of the most common ants in Missouri that bite or sting.

How Do Ants Communicate?

Ant colonies are extremely large, sometimes consisting of millions of worker ants. Of course, ants can’t speak and so, many wonder how the ants communicate with one another. They have a number of ways of doing so.

  • Scent: An ant’s antennas are a big part of their communication. These antennae allow ants to smell the pheromones left behind by other ants in their colony. These pheromones are specialized, with each communicating something different to the other ants. One pheromone cocktail may lead the way to a food source, while another may indicate a predator nearby. 
  • Touch: Ants often communicate simply by moving their bodies, or by touching their antennae to another ant’s antennae. In doing so, one ant can tell another what type of food is at the end of the trail. Sometimes, ants will even give other ants a sample of the food they are carrying so the other workers can better identify it. 
  • Sounds: Ants make sounds by rubbing their legs on a part of their body similar to a washboard. This sound is often too low for humans to hear, but other ants certainly can. Ants often communicate in this manner if they have become trapped, as pheromones will not help other ants find them if a tunnel or chamber has collapsed. 

Ants are much more complex than humans often give them credit for. The varying ways in which they communicate with each other is just one example of this. 

Do You Have Ants? Call A Missouri Pest Control Company

Ant colonies are very large, which makes them difficult to get rid of if they’ve found a way into or around your home. If you have an ant problem, you need a St. Charles pest control company that can help. At Amco Ranger, we can easily eliminate ants from your home, and any other pests you may have, too. Call us today at (636) 441-2847 to schedule your free inspection and learn more about how we can help. 

How To Treat Mosquito Bites

No matter how carefully you apply insect repellent, you’ll probably experience an itchy bite or two this summer. When a red, itchy bump appears on your skin, you want relief as quickly as possible.

When bitten, the first step is to wash the affected area with soap and water. After that, everyone seems to have a different method for relieving the pain and itch. Which method you choose may depend on whether you are home or in the middle of the woods with limited resources.

Antihistamine Cream

The best way to treat a mosquito bite is to use an over the counter antihistamine cream. It will reduce swelling, relieve pain, and allow itchy, blood-clotting, mosquito saliva to exit the wound.

Ice

Ice helps in two ways. Like taking an antihistamine, ice reduces swelling and has the added benefit of numbing the nerves sending “itchy” signals to the brain.

Heat

Holding a hot compress or running hot water over the affected area will overload the nerves in the same way ice does and also opens the pores to allow the itch-causing toxins easier to escape. Best used in conjunction with an antihistamine or other treatment that will reduce swelling.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a natural and effective antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and disinfectant that can soothe the itch and sting of bites. Simply squeeze the gel from the plant and apply it directly to the bite.

Toothpaste

A dab of toothpaste on the bite will act as an astringent, drawing itchy venom from the wound as it dries. Menthol in the toothpaste will also provide a “cooling” sensation that will occupy the nerves in the same way ice does, relieving discomfort.

Deodorant

Aluminum chloride in bar deodorant will draw moisture and toxins from the bite.

Baking soda

When mixed with a little water and applied as a paste, this household alkaline can help neutralize the pH balance in the bite, providing itch relief.

Aspirin

Not only can your go-to headache medication relieve pain when ingested, but when dissolved in water and turned into a paste, it can calm bites when applied topically.

Wet tea bag

The tannins in a moist black or green tea bag act as an astringent and quickly soothe the itch.

Lemon juice & vinegar

Lemon juice or vinegar can also be soothing, but only if you haven’t scratched the surface skin off the bite and made it bleed. Applying these acidic compounds to broken skin will sting, which can be worse than the itching.

Honey

A natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory, honey is a quick pain reliever when applied directly to the bite.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal contains potent antioxidants that reduce inflammation and may calm the itch. Simply mix a couple spoonfuls of oatmeal and water into a small cup to create a paste and then apply directly to the bite.

Yogurt

Because yogurt is made with proteins that coat and soothe the skin, the creamy snack makes for a great inflammation reducer.

Fresh basil

Rubbed on the affected area, natural camphor increases blood flow around the bite and breaks down itchy anti-clotting agents in mosquito saliva.

Garlic

A natural antibiotic, fresh garlic rubbed on a mosquito bite is said to knock out the bacteria causing itchiness. Evidence is inconclusive, but some swear by this method.

Complications that can arise from mosquito bites

There are many great ways to treat mosquito bites and overcome their discomfort. However, if symptoms worsen over time or include fever or swelling, this might be an allergic reaction. If this occurs, you should contact a doctor immediately.

For most bite victims, the most likely complication of a mosquito bite is a secondary bacterial infection caused by scratching with dirty fingernails. This is especially true for children, who tend to have heightened skin reactions to mosquito bites, and who are also more likely than adults to have filthy nails.

We can help

If you are tired of dealing with the aftermath of mosquitoes in your yard, give Amco Ranger a call to get a free quote for professional, ongoing defense. Treatments are tailored to your property and are applied by certified, trained technicians. Take back your yard! Give us a call today if you need help getting rid of pests in your home in Cottleville, St. Peters, O’Fallon, St. Charles, St. Louis, and surrounding communities.

Protect Your Pets From Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes might not seem to be a big problem for furry animals like dogs and cats, but your pets can still get bitten in areas with only thin hair coverage, such as the nose, ears, and belly. Dogs and cats experience the same itching and irritation around mosquito bites as humans, however, a more serious concern is the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, especially heartworm.

Heartworm is a parasite that causes life-threatening heart and lung infection in dogs and sometimes cats. It is carried from one animal to another via mosquitoes and is relatively common in the United States. Protecting your dog or cat from mosquito bites is the best way to reduce the risk of heartworm infection.

Symptoms of mosquito bites

  • Constant scratching
  • Rubbing ears or nose against a rough surface
  • Red welts similar to mosquito bites in humans
  • Systemic illness from mosquito-borne parasite infection
  • Coughing
  • Respiratory difficulty
  • Lethargy or depression
  • Intolerance to exercise
  • Lack of appetite or weight loss
  • Vomiting (cats)

Types of animal-related infection carried by mosquitoes

  • Heartworm
  • West Nile Virus
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Diagnosis

Mosquito bites can be diagnosed based on signs of itching and irritation as well as the presence of mosquitoes. Bites that carry infection are undetectable from those that don’t, so heartworm is only found through regular testing, or when symptoms of illness are already present.

A small blood sample can be used to detect the presence of heartworm-related proteins. It takes six months for an animal to test positive for infection, so it’s recommended that dogs be tested at least once annually after they are seven months old.

Cats, on the other hand, are not typical hosts for heartworm. In cats, few worms reach the adult stage. Although, the larvae can cause fatal or sudden illness, so it’s important to get your cat tested regularly.

If your dog or cat tests positive for heartworm, chest X-rays or further tests may be ordered to evaluate the extent of the infection.

Treatment

Insect repellent is often used to reduce mosquito bites in humans, but it can be unsafe for dogs and cats. Any spray designed for humans, especially those containing DEET, may be toxic and should be avoided. Choose a repellant that is tested specifically on your pet, preferably with the advice of a veterinarian.

If your dog or cat is suffering from severe discomfort related to mosquito bites, your veterinarian could prescribe or recommend a treatment to reduce the itching. Otherwise, no treatment is necessary.

Dogs that test positive for mosquito-borne heartworm infection are usually treated with an arsenic-containing medication given in small doses over the course of several months. This medication is not safe to use in cats. No treatment is currently available for cats diagnosed with heartworm infection. However, monthly preventive medication can be given to both dogs and cats and is usually effective at eliminating the risk of infection.

Recovery

Individual mosquito bites will heal in dogs and cats, but continued exposure increases the risk of infection. Taking steps to make your house and yard as mosquito-free as possible in the summer months can reduce the chance that pets will be bitten. Since no mosquito elimination is foolproof, the best way to manage heartworm infection is with medication and regular testing. It’s important to be consistent and give each dose at the same time each month since missed or late doses can impact the effectiveness of the treatment. Pets should be tested before beginning a treatment plan and after any lapse in medication.

Prevention

Both humans and pets will benefit from reducing the mosquito population around your home. In order to do so, avoid leaving stagnant water around your house and garden as this represents a great environment for mosquitoes to breed. Even if your dog spends most of the time indoors, mosquitoes can enter the household via open windows or doors, so consider using window and door screens or pet-friendly mosquito repellents to reduce the presence of mosquitoes in the environment.

Protect your dog with year-round heartworm prevention. A complete heartworm plan includes use of preventive medication and regular testing. Discuss the best options for your dog with your veterinarian. Prevention is the best medicine. Although heartworm disease cannot be directly transmitted from one animal to another, it only takes one bite from an infected mosquito for a dog to get heartworms.

We Can Help

If you are having issues with mosquitoes, give Amco Ranger a call to get a free quote for professional, ongoing defense in your yard. Treatments are tailored to your property and are applied by certified, trained technicians. Give us a call today if you need help getting rid of pests in your home in Cottleville, St. Peters, O’Fallon, St. Charles, St. Louis, and surrounding communities.

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