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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: "Ants"

Authors
item Oi, David
item Vail, Karen

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: November 11, 2010
Publication Date: October 24, 2011
Citation: Oi, D.H., Vail, K.M. 2011. "Ants". Mallis Handbook Pest Control 10th edition. 11:273-293.

Interpretive Summary: Scientists from USDA-ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology and the Entomology and Plant Pathology Department of the University of Tennessee have revised the chapter entitled “Ants” for the 10th edition of the Handbook of Pest Control, authored by Arnold Mallis. The handbook is considered by many as the “bible” for the urban pest management industry. First published in 1945, it has been revised and updated approximately every seven years, to keep current with new research on the biology and management strategies for vertebrate and invertebrate pests of the urban environment, ranging from rats to cockroaches and ticks. In the ant chapter, the identification, distribution, and biology of over 34 important urban ant species in the U.S. is briefly reviewed, including five, relatively recent invasive ant species. General methods of ant control are presented with more specific details on current control research for Argentine ants, carpenter ants, red imported fire ants, and Pharaoh ants. The diversity of the various urban ant species requires an understanding of their biology and distribution to adapt general control strategies for specific pest ant situations.

Technical Abstract: Ants are a highly evolved and dominant insect group, being one of the largest families of insects in terms of the sheer number of individuals and the number of different species. Currently there are well over 12,000 species of ants, and there are certainly many more yet to be discovered and described. Ants belong to the family Formicidae, consisting of 23 subfamilies and 287 genera that are not extinct. Despite the tremendous diversity of ant species, a relatively small percentage of ants have been classified as pests. A generous approximation of 13% of the nearly 1000 ant species in North America could be considered pests in the urban environment. This includes species that may only occasionally invade structures or cause a problem in limited localities. The number of ant species causing frequent problems on a regional basis is much less, perhaps about 30 pest species. The identification, distribution, and biology of over 34 important urban ant species in the U.S. is briefly reviewed, including five relatively recent invasive species (Pachycondyla chinensis, Paratrechina pubens, Brachymyrmex patagonicus, Myrmica rubra, and Tetramorium tsushimae). General methods of ant control are presented with more specific details summarized for control research on Argentine ants, carpenter ants, red imported fire ants, and Pharaoh ants. The diversity of the various urban ant species requires an understanding of their biology and distribution (relative to their seasonal phenology) to adapt general control strategies for specific pest ant situations.

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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