When it comes to household pests, ants often top the list of common species considered pests. They’re organised, they’re everywhere and they seem to know exactly when you’ve left that tiny crumb on the counter. In South Africa, ants are not a much-loved neighbour.
While these tiny creatures play essential roles in our ecosystem, they can become quite the nuisance when they invade our living spaces or destroy our grass. Let’s unpack some of the most common ant species in the region and how to keep them off your property.
1. Argentine Ants
Have you noticed long trails of small, brown ants heading towards any sweet food in your home? That’s likely the Argentine ant, an invasive species infamous for its love of sugary substances and its ability to form super-colonies.
|Light to dark brown with a single node on the waist and no gaster tip circular opening.
|2.2mm – 3.8mm (workers) 4 – 6mm (queen)
|Argentine ants favour lush, damp areas to establish their sprawling networks, commonly setting up shop beneath the soft earth, wedged between stones, or nestled in the nooks of sidewalks and foundations.
Why Can’t I Just Spray Argentine Ants Away?
Spraying might seem like a quick fix, but it disrupts the ants’ pheromone trails and leads to budding—where the colony splits and multiplies, making your problem worse. That’s why Mostert Pest Control opts for baits that use the ants’ own foraging habits against them, ensuring the entire colony is targeted, not just the foragers.
2. Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants are known for their woodworking skills, but when they start remodelling your home, it’s no cause for celebration. These South African ants are mostly nocturnal and nest inside wooden structures.
|Black to reddish-brown, with a single node and evenly rounded thorax, as well as a circular gaster tip opening.
|6 – 17 mm (workers) up to 20mm (queen)
|Carpenter ants prefer to establish colonies within damp wooden structures, often in areas where wood touches soil, or in spaces with water damage, such as around leaks in roofs or pipes.
How Do Professionals Handle Carpenter Ants?
Our professional pest control teams assess the situation first, identify the nest, and then apply a targeted treatment. Preventive measures are also advised, such as fixing leaks and ensuring wood doesn’t touch the soil, to make your home less carpenter-ant-friendly.
3. Pharaoh Ants
Tiny and light-coloured, Pharaoh ants might seem less intimidating, but they’re one of the toughest indoor pests to control, with colonies that can sprawl into hundreds of thousands.
|Light yellow to red, with darker abdomens. Workers are tiny, with a two-segmented antennal club, which is distinctive to the species. Two nodes and a sting on the gaster tip.
|1.5 – 2mm
|Pharaoh ants prefer warm and humid environments and are commonly found indoors, especially in hospitals, food service areas, and residential homes. They nest in inaccessible areas like wall voids, under floors, or behind baseboards and are known to be a challenging pest due to their tendency to form large colonies with multiple queens.
Why Is Professional Control Necessary for Pharaoh Ants?
Because Pharaoh ants can spread throughout buildings rapidly and are resistant to many over-the-counter treatments, experts use baits that are shared within the colony, leading to a more effective and long-term solution.
4. Black Sugar Ants
Black Sugar Ants are a common sight in South African homes, identifiable by their shiny black exterior. This species of ant is particularly attracted to sweet substances, often causing a nuisance in kitchens and pantries.
|Shiny black with two nodes on the waist, a sting on the gaster tip, and 2-segmented antennae with a three-segmented club.
|1.5 – 2mm (workers are all a consistent size)
|Black Sugar Ants typically nest in sheltered soil, often under paving stones or within structures. They’re adaptable and can be found both outdoors and indoors, where they seek out food sources, particularly carbohydrates, making them a common nuisance in kitchens and pantries.
Why Are Black Sugar Ants a Concern?
While not harmful, Black Sugar Ants can contaminate food supplies and are known for their persistence. Their strong mandibles can bite, and though not dangerous, it can be a discomforting experience.
Professional Strategies Against Black Sugar Ants
Mostert Pest Control uses a blend of sugar-based baits and gel formulations to attract and eliminate these ants. It’s not just about removing what you see; it’s about targeting the entire colony to prevent a return.
5. Pugnacious Ants
The Pugnacious Ant, known locally as the “malmier,” is small to medium in size but don’t let their size fool you. They are incredibly protective of their territory and can exhibit aggressive behaviour when threatened.
|Reddish-brown with a head redder than the rest of the body. They have a segmented waist, and their abdomen appears chequered due to 3 rows of refractive hairs, giving a unique pattern. Workers have a rounded abdomen.
|2 – 10mm (worker ants) 13mm (queen)
|Pugnacious Ants nest below ground in sandy soils of arid savannahs and woodlands. They are also found around melkbos trees. Their nests are usually located below large rocks, fallen trees, and bases of small bushes, away from direct human disturbance.
Handling Pugnacious Ant Infestations
Due to their aggressive nature, dealing with a Pugnacious Ant infestation requires professional intervention. Mostert Pest Control professionals can safely apply treatments that effectively manage these ants without causing them to scatter and spread.
6. Acrobat Ants
Acrobat Ants, named for their ability to raise their abdomen over their body, are not just flexible in movement but also in habitat choice, often nesting in various structures.
|Heart-shaped abdomen, two-segmented waist attached to the top of the gaster. They can hold their abdomens above their thorax, hence the name “acrobat”.
|3 – 6mm
|Acrobat ants prefer to nest in moist and decaying wood, including rotting trees and stumps, as well as within cavities of living trees. They can also occupy spaces in buildings, such as behind siding and inside insulation.
Expert Advice on Acrobat Ants
The key to controlling Acrobat Ants lies in their nesting behaviour. Mostert Pest Control identifies and targets nests directly, using precise insecticidal treatments to eradicate colonies without disturbing non-target species.
7. Big-Headed Ants
Big-Headed Ants are easily identifiable by the disproportionately large heads of their soldier ants. They are often found nesting in the soil or under rocks and can quickly become a problem if not managed. They love to infest gardens and even agricultural land, which is why many South Africans contact us to get rid of them.
|Yellowish-red to reddish-brown with two nodes, a sting on the gaster tip, and spines on the thorax.
|1.5 – 3mm – Notable for their dimorphic workers: Major workers have disproportionately large heads compared to their bodies, while minor workers are smaller in size.
|Big-Headed Ants typically nest outdoors in the soil, under rocks, or within leaf litter. Indoors, they may be found beneath floors or within walls, especially where food sources like pet food or crumbs are accessible. They favour warm climates.
Professional Ant Control Measures
To tackle these robust nesters, we conduct a thorough inspection to locate nests before applying targeted treatments. By understanding the specific needs of different ant species, we can provide effective and long-lasting solutions.
8. Odorous House Ants
These tiny pests emit a rotten coconut-like smell when crushed, earning them the name Odorous House Ants. They are attracted to sweets and can be a persistent nuisance once they establish a trail to a food source.
|Brown to black with a single very flat, barely noticeable node hidden by the gaster, which has no circular opening. Smooth and hairless.
|2.4 – 3.25mm (workers are all the same size) The colony size can be substantial, often with multiple queens and many workers.
|These ants are versatile, making their homes in a variety of environments. They often nest within soil, under stones, or at the base of walls and can be found indoors in wall voids or around hot water pipes and heaters. They are attracted to sweets and moisture and often enter homes in search of these resources.
Effective Management of Odorous House Ants
Mostert Pest Control’s approach is to use non-repellent insecticides that ants cannot detect, allowing them to carry the product back to their nest, ensuring the entire colony is addressed.
9. Pavement Ants
Pavement Ants earned their name by making their homes in or under cracks in the pavement. They are industrious builders, creating miniature mounds and establishing colonies beneath our feet.
|Dark brown to black in colour, with distinct parallel lines on head and thorax. They have two nodes on the waist and a sting in the gaster tip.
|3 – 4mm
|As their name suggests, Pavement Ants often make their homes in or under cracks in pavements and sidewalks. They prefer to nest in disturbed soils and can be found under stones, along curbs, and near building foundations. They are also known to invade buildings in search of food and water.
Tackling Pavement Ant Invasions
Mostert Pest Control experts recommend a targeted approach for Pavement Ants. Treatment often includes baiting systems that the ants carry back to the colony, ensuring the queen and the rest of the colony are effectively dealt with.
10. Bal-Byter Ants
Bal-byter Ants are a robust presence in Southern Africa. Recognisable by their black bodies adorned with reddish fawn hairs and large size, these ants are known for their solitary foraging habits, not following the typical ant trails. They carve out their living spaces in the sandy soils of arid savannahs and woodlands, often under large rocks or fallen trees, with each colony ruled by a single queen.
|They have a slender head and thorax, and their abdomen is covered with reddish fawn hairs. Major workers and soldiers exhibit significantly larger heads.
|10 – 18mm (worker ants) 20mm (queen)
|They nest in soil below large rocks, fallen trees, and at the bases of small bushes, primarily in arid savannahs and woodlands with sandy soil. They are also found on melkbos plants.
Dealing with Bal-Byter Ants Effectively
Due to their secluded nesting habits, these ants require a more investigative approach. Mostert Pest Control uses baits like Maxforce scatter bait and Quantum gel, designed to attract and eliminate these ants effectively. By treating the areas surrounding their nests, our experts ensure that the bait is taken back to the colony, providing a solution that reaches deep into the heart of their sandy strongholds.
How Can You Prevent Ants From Taking Over Your Home?
While cleanliness and home maintenance can go a long way in preventing ant infestations, sometimes the invasion can be overwhelming or the ants – like the Carpenter or Pharaoh – might be too tough to handle with DIY methods.
When Is It Time to Call in the Experts?
It’s best to call in professionals like Mostert Pest Control when:
- You’ve tried DIY methods, and the ants keep coming back.
- You notice damage to your property that might be caused by ants.
- You’re dealing with large numbers of ants or multiple species.
- You don’t know what type of ant it is or how the ant nests work but they’re causing issues for you.
What Can Mostert Pest Control Do That I Can’t?
Mostert Pest Control professionals have a deep understanding of ant behaviour, access to professional-grade treatments not available to the public, and can implement integrated pest management strategies that are both effective and environmentally responsible.
Isn’t Professional Pest Control Overkill for Ants?
Not at all. Professionals can save you time, money, and frustration by getting the job done right the first time. Plus, we offer tailored solutions that are safe for your family and pets.
Pest Control for Ants South Africa
Ants are fascinating creatures, but when they cross the line into pest territory, it’s time to act. With Mostert Pest Control, you get the assurance of efficient, humane, and eco-conscious methods to keep your home ant-free. Remember, when it comes to pests, prevention is key, but when prevention fails, professional intervention is the solution.
For more information or to schedule an inspection, reach out to Mostert Pest Control. Let the experts handle the tiny invaders while you enjoy the comfort of your ant-free home.