in Port St Lucie, Stuart, & Palm City
Below you will find some basic facts about ants found in Port St Lucie and Stuart and specific details about what can be done if they infest your home. If you think you might need help eliminating some of these troublesome pests, give Green Pest Services, LLC a call. Located in Port St Lucie (34953) just a couple of miles outside of Tradition, we have decades of experience performing Pest Control in our area.
What are ants?
Ants have been present in the fossil record going back 180 million years. Present on every continent but Antartica, ants thrive anywhere humans do. Hot, humid climates, such as South Florida, are an especially advantageous environment. Ants are closely related to bees and wasps. Like bees and wasps, they are social creatures operating in highly organized and complex colonies. Another similarity with their flying cousins is that most (71%) possess the ability to sting.
Contrary to popular belief, ants and termites are not closely related. Termites are actually more evolutionarily related to cockroaches. The similarity in appearance and behavior of ants and termites is an example of convergent evolution. That is, when two species evolve similar physical or behavioral traits because of similar evolutionary pressures or advantages, despite not being closely related.
Are ants dangerous?
Some certainly can be, but many are not. Others may not pose much risk to human health but are a threat to property. Lastly, there are species of ant that may constitute no danger in and of themselves but can inadvertently spread disease.
ANTS ON THE TREASURE COAST
Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta)
Fire ants are a common and painful pest in Port St Lucie and Palm City. If you have spent any amount of time in South Florida or have likely fallen victim to these invasive ants at some point. People often refer to a Fire Ant “bite”. While it is true that these ants will bite, it is their sting that makes them truly painful. It also makes them dangerous. Allergic reactions to Fire Ant are common, sometimes requiring the use of an epinephrine injection. Fire Ant behavior exacerbates this threat. The first ant on a person typically does not sting. Instead, they wait until there are many dozen ants ready to attack and then coordinate their stinging all at once. This mass and sudden influx of venom can cause major adverse reactions in sensitive individuals.
Florida Carpenter Ant (Camponotus floridanus)
The Florida Carpenter Ant is widespread in the State of Florida and by far the most common species of Carpenter Ant found in Port St Lucie and Stuart. Most Carpenter Ants on the Treasure Coast are red and black, similar to a Fire Ant but dramatically larger. There are several other species of Carpenter Ant present in the state, including the Tortugas Carpenter Ant, the Compact Carpenter Ant, and the Black Carpenter Ant.
Contrary to popular belief, Carpenter Ants do not consume wood the way termites do. Some species may cause damage to soft or rotten wood in the process of building a nest, but the Florida Carpenter Ant is less prone to this behavior than some northern and western species.
Carpenter Ants possess large and powerful mandibles that can cause an extremely painful bite. They may also inject the bite with formic acid. While not venomous in the same vein as a Fire Ant, Carpenter Ant bites are still a painful threat to people.
Pharaoh Ants (Monomorium pharaonis)
The Pharaoh Ant is a very small species of ant only slightly larger in size than the more common Ghost Ant. They can be distinguished from Ghost Ants in that the Pharaoh Ant is a darker color and moves much more slowly and deliberately than the fast and seemingly erratic Ghost Ant.
The Pharaoh Ant was once a widespread and a fairly difficult pest to control on the Treasure Coast but as better baits and knowledge became available, the Pharaoh Ant became much less common. In recent years however, there has been a resurgence of this pest in homes and structures in Port St Lucie. They are especially prominent in the 34953 area.
The Pharaoh Ant is considered the most difficult ant species to control inside of a structure. They eagerly adapt to living totally within buildings and are more prone to budding than most other species of ant. Budding is the process of ant colonies creating new queens so that there are multiple, but still interconnected, colonies within a structure. This decentralized structure can make gaining control of a Pharaoh Ant infestation difficult. If treated incorrectly, a homeowner or inexperienced exterminator can inadvertently make the problem worse. Trying to spray Pharaoh Ants away will typically induce budding.
Pharaoh Ants are a significant pest because they pose a threat to human health. Pharaoh Ants can spread up to a dozen human pathogens. Burn victims and babies have become infected by diseases spread by contact with Pharaoh Ants infesting hospitals.
Ghost Ants aka Sugar Ants (Tapinoma melanocephalum)
By far the most common indoor pest in Port St Lucie and Martin County. The Ghost Ant, often colloquially referred to as the Sugar Ant, is a small, fast-moving ant that readily infests structures. Its behavior can be interpreted as erratic, though generally when this behavior is observed it is in fact merely exploring the area for any available food sources. Because of their partially translucent appearance, they are sometimes mistaken for tiny spiders.
Ghost Ants have a strong preference for sugar and carbohydrate-based foods, though they will infest protein-based products as well such as pet food. They also have a constant need for water. For this reason, it’s common to find Ghost Ants in bathrooms despite the absence of food. Often homeowners will try to solve a Ghost Ant infestation themselves using gel-based baits, Terro Bait being the most common. While these products can be helpful, bait for Ghost Ants inside of a home is not always the best strategy for eliminating them. Unlike Pharaoh Ants, Ghost ants most often enter the home from the outside, foraging for food and water and then returning to the colony that is based outdoors. Ghost Ants prefer the warmer and more humid environment on the exterior of Florida homes. For this reason, baiting for Ghost Ants outside of the home is often a more effective strategy and has the added benefit of drawing the ants out of the interior of the structure. The exception to this rule of thumb is the brief Florida winter. For the few months out of the year where temperatures inside homes are actually warmer than those outside the home, Ghost Ants will sometimes move into structures. In this scenario baiting inside is required.
Ghost Ants pose no significant risk to human health, though they do impose economic costs. For restaurants they can ruin food and reputations. For homeowners they can do much the same.
Big Head Ants (Pheidole megacephala)
Big Headed Ants were not the significant household pest on the Treasure Coast as recently as 10 years ago. They were most often a problem on Hutchinson Island in the Jensen Beach area as well as some other neighborhoods in Jensen, but they were largely absent farther west such as Port St Lucie and Palm City. Today Big-Headed Ants are the most common ant problem requiring pest control in all of St Lucie and Martin County, second only to Sugar Ant infestations.
A common sign of a Big-Headed Ant infestation is dirt and debris accumulating around the baseboards. This often leads homeowners to worry they have termites. Thankfully, Big Headed Ants don’t damage wood. They do, however, make quite a mess. In cases of heavy infestation, Big Headed Ants actually cause spider infestations as well. The unending supply of ants as food for the spiders leads to a major explosion of the spider population inside the home, where live food for spiders is typically scarce.
Unlike some other pests, Big Headed Ants can be extremely difficult to control for homeowners. Their colonies are so large and interconnected that stopping an invasion using over the counter products is unlikely. Where pest control issues with fire ants or ghost ants may be controlled by a determined homeowner, or may be simply a matter of tolerance, when it comes to Big Headed Ants, a professional pest control company should be relied upon.
White Footed Ants (Technomyrmex difficilis)
Like many of the other ants described here, White Footed Ants are not native to Florida and we’re not present as recently as the 1980’s. According to the University of Florida Entomology Department, White Footed Ants were first identified in Florida in 1986 and by the mid-2000’s had established themselves in St. Lucie and Martin County.
White Footed Ants are a sweet eating ant, similar to Ghost Ants. They thrive in thick vegetation and on flowering plants. These jet-black ants are common in gated communities where lush landscaping is required and maintained. Tradition (34987) is loaded with White Footed Ants. They often come in on plants from nurseries for newly constructed homes – moving in before even the new homeowners do.
Pest Control companies had a notoriously difficult time controlling these ants when they first arrived on the Treasure Coast. Since then, knowledge and products have improved so that knowledgeable exterminators should be able to make quick work of these annoying invaders.
Acrobat Ants (Crematogaster ashmeadi)
Acrobat Ants are similar to White Footed Ants and Twig Ants in that they are an arboreal species, meaning they live in trees. This also means they will live in the attics of homes and sometimes infest wall voids.
Though Acrobat Ants are relatively common in Florida they have not been a major pest on the Treasure Coast, though anecdotally that seems to be changing. Here at Green Pest Services, we would typically encounter Acrobat Ants around homes located on the river in the Southbend Lakes area of Port St Lucie. In 2022, we began to get calls for Acrobat Ants in the Oak Hammock neighborhood and Vitalia community of Tradition.
Treatment for this species of ant is similar to that of White Footed Ants and Sugar Ants, and should not present a major challenge to a professional pest control company.
Twig Ant (Pseudomyrmex gracilis)
The Twig Ant is an extremely common ant with a fairly painful sting, though it is not a particularly common pest problem. Now this may sound counterintuitive but because it is extremely rare for Twig Ants to enter a home, and because their nests are not typically found on the ground, they are often present around homes without encountering people. They are also not particularly aggressive by nature. All that said, it is common for people to be stung by Twig Ants when trimming hedges or trees where Twig Ants forage and live.
There is a common misperception that Twig Ants are solitary ants. This probably arises because Twig Ants don’t typically form trails the way other ants do and are usually not present in great numbers. Nevertheless, Twig Ants, like all other ants, do live in colonies and depend on each other for survival.
Control is typically straightforward if using equipment capable of making applications to trees and foliage.
The Red Velvet Ant (Dasymutilla occidentalis)
What is often considered the most painful ant in our area, The Velvet Ant aka “Cow Killer”, is in fact not an ant at all but a wasp. The males have wings but the females do not, thus leading to the misnomer that these insects are ants. Another difference between males and females of this species of wasp, perhaps the most important difference for residents of the Treasure Coast, is that the females possess a painful sting. This sting is so painful it has earned the Red Velvet Ant the nickname the Cow Killer Ant.
Native to Florida, the Eastern Velvet Ant is a dramatically colored parasitic wasp. Varying in color from red to orange with brightly contrasting black, they are sometimes mistaken for another large red and black ant – Carpenter Ant. Velvet Ants are often larger and have a fuzzy/hair body compared to the Carpenter Ant. Because females lack the ability to escape quickly, they instead come armed with an extremely painful sting. Like most wasps, Dasymutilla Occidentalis feeds on nectar. They are considered parasitic because females will deposit their eggs onto the larvae of other wasp species, enabling their young to feed on the unlucky host. These “ants” are a ground dwelling pest. Cow Killer Ants prefer a dry habitat consisting of well drained soils.
Green Pest Services – Ant Control in Port St. Lucie 34953
Green Pest Services is a locally owned and operated Pest Control services based in Port St. Lucie. We have decades of combined experience in the control of nuisance ants here on the Treasure Coast. Our services are affordable and, most importantly, effective at controlling ant problems in homes and yards.
If you would like a free quote right over the phone, give us a call at 772-528-5839.