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Coastal Brown Ant

Coastal Brown Ant (Pheidole megacephala)

Coastal Brown Ant - Pheidole megacephala

Structure, Appearance and Characteristics

Adult:

  • 1.5-2.5mm long.
  • Colour varies from light yellowish brown to brown.
  • Large head in comparison to body size (soldier).
  • Thorax has one pair of spines.
  • Abdominal pedicel has 2 raised nodes.
  • Soldier has enlarged darkened head.
  • Chewing mouthparts.

Larvae (The young):

  • Whitish grub, narrower toward the head

Life Cycle

Complete metamorphosis (egg – larva – pupa – adult). Eggs are small and ovoid in shape. Larvae are fed by the adults. After several moults the larvae pupate.

There are 3 different castes of adults:

  1. Male: Winged. Function is to mate with female.
  2. Female: Winged until after mating. Largest in body size. This caste becomes the reproductive queen of the colony. Can live many years.
  3. Worker: Wingless, sterile. Act as nest-builders, foragers for food, feeding larvae, looking after eggs and defence of nest. Soldiers come from this caste. Normally live about 1 year.

Habitat

Nests mainly in soil and builds along pathways, in gardens, against walls, under houses and if in large enough numbers can cause damage to lawns. They prefer sunny, dry areas to nest but will nest above ground if soil is available. Can be found nesting in termite tracks. Have been known to invade external electrical appliances such as hot water systems.

Food

Preference is for fatty foods but will attack seeds, meats, insects, fruit, honeydew from aphids, sweet foods, fats and grease. Adults cannot ingest solid food particles but ingest liquids which are pressed out of food material. Larvae depend entirely on workers for food. Young larvae are fed in liquids, the older larvae are fed on small food particles which they can ingest. Adults will also feed on excretions from larvae.

Economic Impact / Nuisance

Small mounds from excavations near paths etc. can be considered unsightly. Trailing of ants can also be considered unsightly. Swarming can occur within a premises which can cause distress to the occupants. Invasion of kitchen areas and wet areas can also be a nuisance to occupants. Plants and seedlings can be damaged if infestation is bad. External electrical appliances such as hot water systems can be damaged and present a fire hazard because of short-circuits from high moisture levels. Can be vectors of disease organisms such as dysentery, smallpox and bacteria such as Salmonella.

Control

Being a social insect, concern for individuals is reduced. This is a major strength making control difficult. They are also small and extremely adaptable at establishing large colonies outside. Being a social insect is also a weakness since direct treatment of a nest will destroy the colony. Control measures can involve barrier treatments to try to keep ants away from their food and water source. The most successful form of treatment is to locate the nest itself and treat with an appropriate insecticide. A liquid insecticide which could flood tunnels and galleries and has a long residual life in soil would be preferable for both a barrier and nest treatment. Because they favour outdoor nesting sites, a perimeter treatment of the premises is often all that is needed. Another form of treatment is to exploit their foraging activities for food. Using baits, the food is taken back to the ant colony where it can target many more members including the queen.

Our licensed technicians can assist you with a flexible, tailored solution to meet your needs and prevent these pests from becoming a problem in your home or workplace. Please contact us to see how we can help you maintain an environment free of these and other pests.

 


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