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Bigheaded Ant (Pheidole Spp)

Facts, Identification & Control

Bigheaded ants get their name from the appearance of the major workers. The major workers have very large heads in relation to their bodies. The bigheaded ant does not sting and usually does not bite unless the nest is disturbed.

Where do they live?

The bigheaded ants are soil-nesting ants. They can be found nesting in disturbed soils, lawns, flowerbeds, under objects, such as bricks, cement slabs, or flower pots, around trees or water pipes, along the base of structures, and walkways. They often enter homes through cracks in the foundation. Although they do not usually nest inside of homes, they often forage inside homes

(in bathrooms, kitchens and around doors and windows) for food.

Bigheaded ants are omnivorous, feeding on honeydew, dead insects, and soil invertebrates. When they forage indoors, they prefer foods that are high in protein. Trails of foragers can often be seen along trees trunks, climbing into canopies of tall trees, and on the exterior walls of structures.

How do they live?

As with all ants,  bigheaded ants have 4 life stages. Colonies can have large numbers of fertile queens. New colonies are formed through budding

(i.e., when a queen and a few workers break off from the mother colony). Queens may lay up to 290 eggs per month.

There are two distinct types of workers: major and minor workers. The major workers serve as soldiers, defend the colony and also use their large jaws to crack seeds and other food for colony members. The minor workers feed the colony, tend the immature ants and build the nest.

These ants may vary in colour from shades of yellow and red to brown or black.

How do they affect us?

When they invade new areas, these ants are known to displace indigenous ant species. Bigheaded ants can damage irrigation tubes and other in-ground equipment used on commercial farms. Because they enter structures in search of food, this exposes kitchen surfaces and food items to contaminants like dirt and bacteria.

How do we control them?

Controlling bigheaded ants is difficult because the ant colonies are numerous. To manage ants inside the home it is imperative that nesting sites be identified and destroyed. Appropriate baits will help to control the ants.