Australia’s Ants: Friend or Foe?

Research indicates that there are approximately 15,000 species and subspecies of ants worldwide, and Australia is home to about 15 percent of these various ant species. Ants can be found in every state and territory in Australia. Some of the more familiar ants in Australia include species such as the: bulldog or bull ant, green tree ant, meat ant, green-headed ant, jumper ant, and sugar ant.

One of the most prevalent pests found in and around homes, ants can be an irritating nuisance. Ants can cause damage by building mounds or disturbing pavement; they also carry diseases and can spoil products. Some species can sting, bite, or cause severe allergic reactions. When ants are a problem, pest eradication may be the solution.

Ant Control Methods

There are three basic strategies or methods that can be utilized to successfully treat ant problems. These three methods include: inspection, chemical treatments, and baiting. An inspection is the first step in controlling an ant problem because it is vital that the ant species be correctly identified. Each ant species has a propensity for certain foods and nesting conditions. A pest inspection can accurately determine which species is causing the problems thereby allowing for easier location of the ant’s nesting area.

Once the ant’s nesting area is located, chemical treatments or baiting can be used to eradicate the ant infestation. Both of these methods have advantages and disadvantages. Chemical treatments provide continuous protection because they can act as a barrier preventing future infestations. These liquid or dry powder treatments are safe for humans and pets. The effectiveness of this treatment will depend on the type of chemical used and the placement of the treatment.

Baiting works indirectly to annihilate the ant infestation. The bait used and the location of its placement will depend on the species of ant. Bait will be carried back to the nest, and the ants will feed on the bait. Over time, the ant colony will begin to die. However, bait will not eradicate the ant infestation immediately and may have to be replaced periodically.

What You Can Do

Even though ants do play an important role in the natural food web, their presence in and around a property can be annoying and sometimes destructive. There are some preventative measures that property owners can take to proactively combat ant infestations. Reducing the food sources available for ants is important. Ensuring that rubbish is in properly sealed bags and cleaning up spills immediately are both crucial to preventing ant infestations. Another measure is maintaining the vegetation around the building. When vegetation is allowed to touch the building or its eaves or gutters, the potential for an ant infestation increases..