Carpenter ants are one of the most common indoor insect pests in Florida. Alarmed homeowners often see these ants foraging (especially at night) and either attempt to control the ants with spray insecticides or call their local pest control service. PCOs report going to innumerable homes to speak with frantic homeowners who have failed to control foraging or flying carpenter ants. An experienced pest control operator can usually follow a trail of ants back to the ants’ nesting site and treat it.
Complaints are numerous during the spring swarm season, usually between April and June, when winged reproductives are often found in homes in such places as along window ledges and near sliding glass doors. It is common to mistake winged ants for winged termites.
The ghost ant is easily recognized due to its peculiar color markings and small size. Foragers are seen in kitchens and bathrooms on sinks, counters, and floors. When crushed, the workers emit an odor similar to that of rotten coconuts (Smith 1965).
This species is a household pest. In Florida, it is considered one of the most important of such ant pests. The ghost ant can not only invade houses from outside, but they can nest in the house as well. Although the ant feeds upon many household foods, it seems to show a preference for sweets, having been observed feeding on sugar, cakes, and syrups (Smith 1965). Outside, the workers scavenge for dead insects and tend sap-sucking insects, collecting honeydew (Ferster et al. 2002).
The ant Monomorium pharaonis (Linnaeus) is commonly known as the Pharaoh ant. The name possibly arises from the mistaken idea that it was one of the plagues of ancient Egypt (Peacock et al. 1950). This common household ant is distributed worldwide and carries the dubious distinction of being the most difficult household ant to control.
The workers of Monomorium pharaonis (L.) while monomorphic (same size), do vary slightly in length and are approximately 1.5 to 2 mm long (Haack and Granovsky 1990). The antennae have 12 segments with each segment of the 3-segmented antennal clubs increasing in size toward the apex of the club (Smith and Whitman 1992). The eye is comparatively small, with approximately six to eight ommatidia across the greatest diameter. The prothorax has subangular shoulders, and the thorax has a well-defined mesoepinotal impression. Erect hairs are sparse on the body, and body pubescence is sparse and closely appressed. The head, thorax, petiole, and postpetiole (the petiole, or the petiole and postpetiole, in ants, is also called the pedicel, Figure 2) are densely (but weakly) punctulate, dull, or subopaque. The clypeus, gaster, and mandibles are shiny. The body color ranges from yellowish or light brown to red (Smith 1965), with the abdomen often darker to blackish (Smith and Whitman 1992).
The white-footed ant, Technomyrmex difficilis Forel, has become an important pest ant in Florida. Previously identifed as Technomyrmex albipes (Fr. Smith), it was correctly identified in 2007 as Technomyrmex difficilis (Bolton 2007). Pest control companies, the media, and homeowners continually consult universities and government agencies for information on how to control this nuisance ant. This publication provides recent information (as of August 2002) on the distribution and habits of the white-footed ant in Florida and the research being conducted on improved control practices.
The white-footed ant is a medium-small (2.5-3 mm long), black to brownish-black ant with yellowish-white tarsi (feet) and a one-segmented waist. A member of the subfamily Dolichoderinae, white-footed ant have five abdominal segments, 12-segmented antennae, few erect hairs, and no sting.