(NewsUSA) – If ants have ever invaded your picnic basket or tasted a sticky snack on your countertop, you have undoubtedly encountered some of the everyday ants. However, with more than 700 ant species, it is not just the “common” ants that are causing problems. There are a host of non-native ants that are wreaking havoc across the country.
Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA) — According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, RIFAs occupy more than 300 million acres in 15 southern states and Puerto Rico. Most known for their painful bite, they are becoming increasingly infamous for the damage they cause to plant roots and crops. However, one of their oddest characteristics is that they are attracted to electrical appliances. In fact, technicians in Texas reported that “one-third of all repairs to air conditioners in the summertime were the results of RIFAs shorting out the terminal blocks.”
Argentine Ants — Another non-native ant, this species has taken up residence across most of the South, California and Hawaii. Often looking for moisture, these ants crawl through sewage, trash and dead animals, picking up disease organisms that can then be brought into people’s homes.
Crazy Ants — These ants, found throughout the country, get their name from running in an erratic manner when searching for food. They feed primarily on insects, fruits and honeydew. They often enter homes after rainfall. Inside, crazy ants usually nest underneath floors or carpeting, in potted plants and in wall voids. Outdoors, the nests are shallow and commonly found in soil under objects or next to foundations.
The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) offers the following tips to keep ants from coming into your home:
Seal cracks and crevices around the outside of your home, including around doors and windows.
Trim vegetation away from your home to prevent pathways inside.
Clean up food spills immediately.
Make sure firewood is not stored next to your home. Argentine ants often build nests in moist wood.
Eliminate standing water on your property. Argentine ants are attracted to moisture.
Inspect for mound-like nests, paying attention to yards and landscaped areas, patios, sidewalks and compost piles and under trees and around electrical equipment.
If you see a nest or other signs of an infestation, contact a pest professional.
For pest information and tips, visit www.pestworld.org.