Maricopa harvester ants are an aggressive species of ant that can be found in backyards throughout much of the southwestern United States. Here are four things you need to know about Maricopa harvester ants.
Where are Maricopa harvester ants found?
Maricopa harvester ants can be found in Arizona, Colorado, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and Utah. Within these areas, they generally build their nests in flat or gently-sloped areas, like your backyard.
What do Maricopa harvester ants look like?
Ant species can be difficult to identify, even for experts. Maricopa harvester ants look very similar to other ants in their genus; they're reddish-brown and have six legs and powerful jaws. For laypeople, the easiest way to identify Maricopa harvester ants is by looking at their nests.
These nests are dome-shaped and covered in materials like twigs or pebbles. The nests can get quite large: they can be as tall as 18 inches and 30 inches in diameter. You will see a large bare area around the nest; these ants forage for foods like seeds and grass, so they will destroy any foliage in the vicinity of their home.
Why are Maricopa harvester ants pests?
These ants are serious pests because they are aggressive and their stings are painful. Their venom is more than 20 times stronger than honeybee venom, so it should come as no surprise that a sting from one of these pests can leave you in agony for up to four hours.
These ants also have an alarm pheromone in their venom, which makes them even more of a nuisance. When one ant stings you, the other ants in their colony are alerted by the pheromone in their venom, and they'll also rush to attack you. This means that you can be stung by many ants simultaneously. If you're allergic to the venom, this can be fatal.
How can they be controlled?
The good thing about these dangerous ants is that they are an outdoor pest, so you don't need to worry about them infesting your home. However, if you want to have backyard barbecues without worrying about getting stung, you'll need to get rid of the ants. Remember to wear long pants and tall boots when you approach the nest to protect yourself from painful stings.
An easy way to destroy the nest is to douse it with insecticides. You can purchase liquid drenches designed for ant control at your local garden center or hardware store; these drenches should be watered into the nest with a watering can. Avoid using this watering can for other gardening purposes once it's been contaminated with insecticides.
If you're not comfortable using pesticides, you can also douse the nest with boiling water. Boiling water will kill any ants that it touches, but the water will also collapse the nest and trap ants that aren't immediately killed by the water.
If Maricopa harvester ants are living in your backyard, take steps to get rid of them before you suffer a painful sting. If you need assistance treating the problem, contact a local pest control company like Commonwealth Exterminating Co.