Big-headed ants are another invasive ant species that can cause serious problems for homeowners. These ants have taken up residence throughout most of the world, and are particularly problematic in the United States and Australia. Like most ants, there are different levels of workers within the colony. For big-headed ants, their name comes from the major workers, or soldier ants. Soldier ants are fairly large in size, with disproportionately large heads compared to the rest of their body. The minor workers are much smaller, about half the size of the soldiers, and have normal body proportions. These ants range in color from yellowish- or reddish-brown to almost black.
Nesting underground, colonies of these ants can have multiple queens. They can even form “super-colonies” when a queen and some workers separate from the nest and form a new nest close by. These queens can lay almost 300 eggs a month! Taking around a month to hatch, the larvae are then cared for by the minor workers before they reach full adulthood about two months after hatching.
Like most species of ant, they protect aphids, as aphids help create one of their favorite foods, honeydew. Honeydew is a sticky, sugary substance produced when aphids feed. Big-headed ants will also feed on dead insects and eggs of some species of insects that normally feed on aphids. Typically these ants will carry food items back to the nest. These ants will work together to carry larger items, or break them down into smaller, easily carried pieces.
High concentrations of these ants are most often found around areas with high aphid populations, and they can even become an inside pest, particularly around potted plants. The easiest way to control these ants is to remove the plants that are aphid-prone or relocate them to areas farther away from your home. Sealing around the foundation is also advised. Advanced Wildlife Control technicians can help you figure out what steps need to be taken to get these ants out of your home.
Did You Know?
Big-headed ant tunnels and nests, because they are underground, can often be confused with subterranean termite nests.