Currently viewing the category: "Ants"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Ants in LA
Geographic location of the bug:  West Hollywood Hills above Sunset Plaza
Date: 08/08/2018
Time: 11:46 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  For 25 years, on the hotter days through summer, my home  was invaded by lines of ants (medium-sized black, perhaps Argentine) apparently seeking water. The past 2-3 years this has greatly diminished. This year, so far, despite (or perhaps because of) record heat, all I’ve seen are two tiny black ants.  Is this phenomenon widespread in LA?
How you want your letter signed:  Keith

No Argentine Ants

Hi Keith,
Our jealously has no bounds.  First, we are almost certain the Ants in question are Argentine Ants.  Have you moved to drought tolerant landscaping recently?  Argentine Ants cannot survive without water, and the reason they invade homes during the heat of summer is for both food and water.  Unlike you, we had two Argentine Ant invasions in our own offices just yesterday with 1000s of Ants swarming the cat food.  Our Mount Washington neighborhood is not as lucky as your West Hollywood digs this year, and in talking to our neighbors, they are also experiencing a higher incident of Ant home invasions this year.

Argentine Ants invading WTB? offices


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Red Harvester Ants?
Geographic location of the bug:  Stephenville, TX
Date: 08/01/2018
Time: 01:34 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman —
Hello! I hope you are both well!
I see that you’ve discovered a harvester ant colony, that’s awesome. I also discovered what I believe to be a red-harvester-ant colony in north Texas,  in mid May 2018. Alas, the ant bed is located on the edge of a playground, not good. Warm, windy, dry weather. I found a reference:
I was intrigued by the ants’ use of wood; are they actually shoring up their tunnels, like tiny miners reinforcing their mine? One ant carried what looked like a bird dropping. Mysterious creatures, sadly they are increasingly rare here.
Best wishes!
How you want your letter signed:  Ellen

Harvester Ant carrying more than its weight

Hi Ellen,
Are you the very same Ellen with the great garden in Coryell County?  Alas, that great garden that attracts so many native insects does require irrigation, and you will not find Harvester Ants in areas with irrigation.  Daniel has known about the colony of California Harvester Ants several vacant lots away from the WTB? offices since 1995, even before WTB? was a column in the photocopied zine American Homebody, during the time Daniel was renting a house across from the vacant lots.  At that time there were many more vacant lots and the Ants were often found foraging in the road, but as available housing in Los Angeles becomes more difficult to find, more and more previously unbuildable lots are being developed, and with development comes irrigation.  With irrigation come the invasive Argentine Ants that need the water, and much like gentrification, the Argentine Ants will force out the previous inhabitants, including the California Harvester Ants which are drought tolerant.  That is why Harvester Ants are rare in urban environments that lack natural open space.  Daniel has decided to try to get the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to purchase some of those vacant lots just to preserve the Harvester Ant colony along with other creatures that will most likely not survive additional development with landscaping.  Your images are wonderful.  We hope some bug-phobic parents don’t insist that the colony be exterminated because of a child being stung by a Harvester Ant near the playground.  We believe Harvester Ants do blockade their tunnels during the rainy season.    

Harvester Ant Colony

Thank you for the reply! Yes, I live in Coryell County and was visiting Stephenville when I saw the harvester ants. Such fascinating insects. Best wishes in preserving the undeveloped lots.

Harvester Ant

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

California Harvester Ants
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date:  July 19, 2018
Time:  8:15 AM
We suspect none of our readers will be as excited about this posting as we are, but we are happy to report that the colony of California Harvester Ants that has been living on a south facing slope in Mount Washington is still present, though perhaps not for long as every available lot in the neighborhood seems to have a “Notice of Intent” sign for a new construction project.  California Harvester Ants are naturally adapted to our Southern California climate and they do not need irrigation to survive, but alas, garden landscaping is responsible for the spread of that scourge, the Argentine Ant, and they have displaced our native Ant species in much of urban Los Angeles.

California Harvester Ant

We also located what we believe to be the back door to the colony right at the edge of the street.

California Harvester Ants at colony entrance


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Large flying brownish yellow ant…
Geographic location of the bug:  SE Asia (prelude to monsoon season)
Date: 05/18/2018
Time: 12:17 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello Bugman,
After hearing / seeing what I at first thought to be a V8 engine flying around my room – then the ‘engine’ eventually doing the inevitable ‘head butt the window, directly next to the opened one’ (which infact I bee’lieve he almost managed to push open anyway….) early this morning. I spent an hour getting over the shock of what I had just witnessed, I then used your very useful website to identify said visitor / early morning alarm clocks identification. I now know the ‘intruder’ was a fully grown ‘Capenter bee.’  – How lovely.
Quite a few days prior to this, I was visited by a very large flying ant(?) – light brown/yellow in colour and displaying a docile temperament (at first). After foolishly believing it would appreciate a small saucer of water, it took acception to this – took flight, and aimed its self directly at my ‘boat shed’ (that’s Cornish rhyming slang for “face”) with me well and truly in its flight path – it was trying to chew my nose and/or eyes off or out… I’m sure.
It eventually ‘banked’ around and flew out of the door – maybe me running away and screaming like a little school girl, was just too much for ant’y flyie thing ? (The picture was taken of it about to start trying to bite an 8mm rivet head off – for reference, ours; not it’s.)
Anyway; I hope you can help me identify it, it will also help me with the (Southern Vietnam) police report, if we do indeed know the species.
Thanking you in advance, I will look forward to your reply.
With kind regards
How you want your letter signed:  Andy, 36 years 7 months.

Red Tree Dwelling Weaver Ant Alate

Dear Andy,
Your submission is quite entertaining.  We concur that the first visitor you mentioned is a Carpenter Bee, and we believe we have identified your flying Ant as a female alate Red Tree Dwelling Weaver Ant,
Oecophylla smaragdina, thanks to the TermitesandAnts Blogspot where it states:  “Oecophylla smaragdina is a common red tree dwelling weaver ant. The color is not definitive of the species as there are also those which are green. Oecophylla smaragdina are group hunters and individual ants are mostly ineffective against live prey except very small ones. … Oecophylla smaragdina nests can be quite extensive covering several trees over a few acres. These nests are made of leaves woven together with ants’ silk secreted by the larvae. Some workers pulled leaves together while other workers each with a larva in its mandibles ‘glue’ the leaves together, with the ant silk secreted by these larvae, to formed a shelter where the brood are housed.”

Red Tree Dwelling Weaver Ant Alate

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  What bugs are these
Geographic location of the bug:  Bellevue ohio
Date: 04/30/2018
Time: 04:42 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I was cleaning out a small section of dirt near my house spring time and lifted a rock and noticed these bugs. I’m not sure what they are and would appreciate the help identifying them.
How you want your letter signed:  Zack

Citronella Ants

Dear Zack,
We began our research on the Ohioline page Ants In and Around the Home and we found a reference to Larger Yellow Ants and no scientific name with the following information: “These ants are often mistaken for winged termites since the winged adults swarm through cracks in basement walls or floors, crawl around, and are attracted to lights. They live in the soil next to the building foundation, under basement floors, in concrete voids or in rotting wood, and feed on honeydew of subterranean aphids and mealybugs, which live on the roots of shrubs planted near residences. Winged forms are dark brown or blackish-brown with brownish, somewhat clouded wings and bodies measuring 3/8 to 1/4 inch long to the wing tips. Workers are pale yellowish-brown, about 5/32 to 3/16 inch long. They cluster around cracks and crevices and, when crushed, give off a strong odor, smelling like “citronella” or a certain kind of toilet soap. They are smooth, shiny, quite hairy, have 12-segmented antennae, one node petiole (long, pointed segment), small eyes on the head, uneven thorax profile, and the anal opening at the end of the abdomen is circular surrounded by a fringe of hairs. Workers stay underground during the day and forage at night.”  Then on BugGuide we found Lemon Ants or Citronella Ants from the genus
Lasius (subgenus Acanthomyops) and we believe that is a correct identification for your sighting.  We have selected your submission as our Bug of the Month for May 2018.

Citronella Ants

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Big Ants
Geographic location of the bug:  New Mexico
Date: 04/10/2018
Time: 02:03 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I discovered these large ants under a  paver where they had their nursery in the front yard. I haven’t seen them anywhere else. I was wondering if they were some sort of harvester ant?
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks, Karen

Carpenter Ants

Dear Karen,
These are Carpenter Ants in the genus
Camponotus, and the individuals with the big heads are the major workers, but we are not certain of the species.  Here is a BugGuide image of a major worker of Camponotus sansabeanus and here is a BugGuide image of another major worker from a different species.  Here is another BugGuide image of a group of Carpenter Ants from New Mexico that are not identified to the species level.  Ant colonies often have numerous castes and here is an explanation from AntArk:  “Soldier ants are also known as major workers or big heads. They are only present among certain ant species that are ‘polymorphic’.  These sterile female ants are larger and stronger than typical workers. They protect their colony from large predators and use their strength and large jaws or mandibles  to cut and carry … larger objects.  In harvester ant species, the soldiers use their strength to crack open hard seeds.  In leaf cutter ant species, the soldiers cut through the thicker plants so that the minor workers can carry the clippings back to their nest.  Some species have median workers that are sized between minor and major workers.”  Carpenter Ants do not eat wood, and according to BugGuide:  “Camponotus species are often called ‘carpenter ants’ because many species nest in dry or moist rotten wood, and some may nest in wooden houses, sheds, etc. However, in the East, C. americanus and C. castaneus nest in soil, and in the West, numerous species (except most in the subgenera Camponotus and Myrmentoma) nest in soil.”  In our opinion, the colony you uncovered does not pose a threat to you or your home.  Though we do not endorse extermination, the Orkin site has some good information as well, including “A typical parent colony contains a queen, the queen’s brood and workers, both minor and major. The size of worker ants determines their responsibilities. Minor workers are the smallest members of the colony, and their tasks are to take care of the young and forage for food. Major workers are larger and serve as soldiers to defend against predators.”  Your image illustrates two different castes of workers.

A Reader Comments:   “I’m sure you’ve heard about this by now. In this posting, “Carpenter Ants, On April 12, 2018 · Category: Ants · Add Comment”, this phrase appeared. “They protect their colony from large predators and use their strength and large jaws or mandibles  to cut and carry buy generic tramadol online larger objects.” I had to read the line 3 or 4 times before it sunk in. I just kept thinking, “What does that say? What’s wrong with this?”! Hard to believe this can happen to a website!!! Take care, have a good one! Cathy”

Ed. Note:  Thanks to Cathy for bringing that to our attention.

I discovered more things about the “Tramadol” line, and now I’m more confused than ever. I went and copied the article and pasted it to Word Pad. The phrase showed up. Then I got the ant website e-mail and was going to tell them about it. When I copied and pasted the article to send to them on my g-mail, nothing showed! I scrapped the e-mail and started to worry what my computer may have caught. I ran Avast and Malwarebytes, and neither found anything! I saw you were able to delete the phrase. Probably always going to be a mystery, and apparently, no harm, no foul. Hope all is well on your end. Thanks, Cathy

We are very happy you contacted us Cathy.  When the AntArk quote was originally read on their site, the ghost link did not appear and Daniel did not review the pasted text, though he did delete all links, so he suspects though the active link was deleted, the url information somehow remained and showed as the strange Tramadol citation.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination