Types of Ant In Australia

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Australia is home to over 1,300 different types of ant. These ants can be a particular nuisance when they enter your home, travelling a long distance in search of food. Need to get rid of ants in your home or backyard? To exterminate them effectively, it’s important to identify the type of ant infestation you’re dealing with.

Below are the most common types of ant we treat in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens, Maitland and the Hunter Valley.

Green Ant

Green ants are wide-spread across Australia and can inflict a painful sting to humans when they feel attacked or startled.

Appearance and characteristics

Green ants are so-named for their metallic green head. The rest of their body is a sark blackish colour and they can grow around 5 to 6mm in length.

Lifecycle

Most green ant colonies won’t have queens, instead the worker ants mate to produce the colony. They pass through the stages of egg, larva, pupa, and adult and the colony can live for up to 8 years.

Habitat

Green ants nest in small colonies in bushy areas, under paths and among rockeries. They rarely infest houses. Green ants are able to colonise disturbed areas quickly, becoming more abundant in urban areas. They are one of the first insects to forage after bushfires and are sometimes found as soon as the embers have stopped smouldering.


Carpenter Ant

As the name suggests, carpenter ants will do major damage to wooden objects. An untreated infestation can weaken the foundational structure of a property over time.

Appearance and characteristics

Carpenter ants vary in colour, from black to dark brown to brownish orange. They have a smooth, evenly rounded thorax with a distinct single node and mandibles with 5-8 teeth. Carpenter ants are polymorphic, meaning that they have three different sizes, each with defined job classifications. They usually grow between 3 to 12mm in length.

Lifecycle

Major workers are the largest ants, acting like soldier ants. Media carpenter ants are medium in size and minor carpenter ants are the smallest, responsible for gathering the food and constructing the colonies.

Habitat

Carpenter ants can live in both indoor and outdoor environments, preferring to nest in moist wood such as decaying bark, rotting timber in the home or a damaged wooden joint. When they create a nest, they bite and tunnel through the wood, however they don’t eat the wood. Carpenter ants don’t just create one big nest. They usually create smaller “satellite” nests, ensuring the colony’s survival even if one nest is destroyed.


Fire Ant

Fire ants are so named after the burning sensation caused when they sting. Their bites can result in a pustule only 48 hours later.

Appearance and characteristics

Fire ants have a coppery-brown head and a darker abdomen. They have three distinct segments in their body and ten in the antenna. They also have large mandibles. Queen fire ants grow to around 15.9mm in length, while worker fire ants are 3.18mm to 6.35mm long.

Lifecycle

Fire ants swarm and mate in mid to late summer. The queen ant lays up to 125 eggs in late spring. The larvae hatch within 8 to 10 days, and the pupal stage lasts for 9 to 16 days. After the first batch of larvae molt into worker ants, the queen ant can continue laying eggs, up to 1500 per day. Queen ants can live up to 7 years.

Habitat

Fire ants nest in mounds up to 40cm tall. The nest next to objects on the ground such as logs.  They are a major pest destroying crops and invading both indoor and outdoor residential locations.


Flying Ant

Of the many types of ant, these are the only species where all fertile males and females produce wings.

Appearance and characteristics

Flying ants have two sets of wings. The back pair are usually shorter than the front and tend to have a brownish tint.

Lifecycle

Flying ants swarm and mate in the air during summer. After they have successfully mated, the male dies and the female locates a new place to build her colony. Once she has built her nest, the queen sheds her wings and will keep laying eggs to build up the colony.

Habitat

Flying ants can invade your home through open doors and windows.


Bull Ant

One of the most aggressive types of ant, the bull ant can cause a painful sting when disturbed or threatened.

Appearance and characteristics

They are shiny red and/or black in colour, with large eyes and long slender clawed mouth parts, known as mandibles. Adults grow from 4 to 80mm in length.

Lifecycle

In each bull ant colony, there is one queen that produces all the eggs, some fertile males and the rest are infertile female workers. It can take several months to grow from an egg to a full-grown adult and the queen may live for several years.

Habitat

Bull ants are mostly found outside, in bushy areas, under logs or rocks. Inside, they establish themselves inside the roof and walls, especially in moist places such as the kitchen or bathroom.


Argentine Ant

This invasive introduced species can overpower and displace native ant populations, affecting the local ecosystem.

Appearance and characteristics

Argentine ants are light to dark brown in colour, usually with a darker abdomen. Adults grow from 1.5 to 3mm long. They have three distinct body sections: the head, thorax and abdomen.

Lifecycle

Colonies are created in early spring, when the winged queens and fertile males are produced. They mature within three months and start reproducing soon afterwards. The worker ants are produced in mid spring. There are numerous queens in the colony.

Habitat

Argentine ants are well-known to usurp the nests of other types of ant. The nests are often hard to find, as they can travel long distances to find food. Outside they live in tree trunks, under plant debris and pavements. Argentine ants are well-adapted and can survive in the roof and wall cavities, especially in moist areas such as the kitchen or bathroom.


Coastal Brown Ant

The coastal brown ant is the most invasive species worldwide, threatening native types of ant. They often have multiple queens who reproduce rapidly, creating super colonies and invading your home.

Appearance and characteristics

The coastal brown at is yellow/brownish to dark reddish in colour with a very shiny head. They have three defined body sections, the head, thorax and a large abdomen. Adult coastal brown ants grow from 1.5 to 2.5mm long. The soldier ants are usually more robust than the workers.

Lifecycle

There are usually only one or two reproductive queens that shed their wings after mating. The rest of the colony is made up of winged males, who reproduce with the queen, wingless worker ants who collect food and maintain the nest and soldiers who defend the colony. Worker ants live for approximately 1 year, while queen ants can live for several years.

Habitat

Coastal brown ants live in dry soil, lawns, agricultural areas, paving and bricks. They are often found inside the home in the walls and skirting boards. They have mounds at the top of their nests and often leave dirt near the edges and cracks of pavements, making them easy to spot.


Sugar Ant

Sugar ants are relatively large ants and easily recognised by their distinctive colouring. The name comes from their attraction to sugar and sweet foods.

Appearance and characteristics

Sugar ants vary greatly in shape, size and colour. They are easily noticeable due to their large size, ranging from 2.5 to 15mm long. Worker ants are usually smaller and slimmer than the soldiers. Males are usually completely black, while females have a black head, orange thorax and orange-banded black abdomen.

Lifecycle

Sugar ants pass through the egg, larva, pupa and adult phases over several months. Colonies usually have one queen, but are known to have multiple queens and can live up to 7 years.

Habitat

Sugar ants rarely enter houses but can nest in the yard in a variety of places such as holes in wood, roots of plants, twigs of trees and shrubs, between rocks or in the soil. Sugar ants don’t sting, but they do have strong mandibles that can bite and can also spray acid from their abdomens to deter predators.


Black Garden Ant

Black garden ants are a nuisance in houses and can cause problems for gardeners, loosening the soil under plants.

Appearance and characteristics

Black garden ants are a dark black/brownish colour and have a small segment at the waist point, known as a pedicel. Worker black garden ants are 4-5mm in length, while queens are 15mm long.

Lifecycle

After mating, the male black garden ant usually dies. The queen black garden ants lay eggs in late spring, which hatch around 3-4 weeks afterwards and turn into worker ants. The queen black garden ant can live for up to 15 years.

Habitat

Black garden ants nest mainly in dry soil in flower beds, lawns, and under paving. They are usually found in large numbers either around their nests in the soil or following each other along their scent trails. They forage widely across the ground and paved areas, finding their way inside the building searching for sugary food sources.

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