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Thousands of ant species have been documented worldwide, and only a small minority of these species are considered pests. Taken as a whole, ants are far more beneficial than problematic. For example, most ants recycle organic matter, and their tunneling behavior helps to aerate soil, which promotes vegetation growth. Ants also prey on other insects including pest insects. Of course, ants become problematic within homes, but most infestations see ants enter homes from outdoor nests. Sometimes, ants establish nests within homes, but these infestations are far less common.

While most ant infestations do not involve indoor nests, some ant species have become well known for their tendency to establish nests within inaccessible indoor locations, such as within wall voids. The ant species that have become associated with indoor nests include carpenter ants, Pharaoh ants and pavement ants. While most ant species establish new colonies by swarming, the Pharaoh ant is one of the few ant species that never swarms; instead, Pharaoh ant colonies produce numerous queens that leave the colony where they originated in order to establish a new colony elsewhere. Pharaoh ants frequently establish multiple colony-nests within homes, and it is now understood that a Pharaoh ant colony will split into multiple colonies when a nest is sprayed with insecticide.

Carpenter ant workers regularly leave their parent nest in order to establish multiple “satellite nests” elsewhere. However, these satellite nests are not new colonies, as they contain only workers and no queens or secondary reproductives. While carpenter ants are capable of establishing multiple nests throughout a home, all of these nests are a part of one single colony. Pavement ants establish indoor nests on occasion, but most infestations see workers invade homes from outdoor nests. Pavement ant nests sometimes resemble small dirt mounds, but they typically nest beneath pavement, rocks and other objects. Pavement ants seek out and consume a variety of human foods, including sweets, greasy foods, and high protein foods.

Have you ever needed to contact a pest control professional over an ant infestation within your home?