Ants are members of the Hymenoptera Order of insects. All of which have membranous wings. The Greek translation of the word Hymenoptera means, “membranous wing”. Oddly enough, only King and Queen ants have these wings.
On top of that, the most well known species in the Hymenoptera Order are categorized as stinging insects. Yet the only ant species that stings is the fire ant. Do you know what a stinger actually is? It is a modified ovipositor? All species within this Order have one. An ovipositor is a tube that deposits eggs. Queen honeybees use their ovipositor to lay their eggs into the honey comb. Queen ants basically do the same thing.
Along with honeybees and yellowjackets, ants are eusocial insects. This is the highest level of organization that a social insect can have. In this case, they care for their young as a group. Multiple generations cohabit inside of one nest. And Castes are formed to delegate specific tasks required by the colony.
Ants, honeybees, bald-faced hornets, and yellowjackets have 3 castes. Each of which perform a specific behavior. Most importantly, the female Queens reproduce. Similarly, male Drones exist strictly for reproductive purposes. The Worker caste consists of entirely all females. This caste forages for food, maintains the nesting structure, and care for the young.
Within a eusocial colony, there is a significant amount of female workers. These Workers do not reproduce. Workers within certain species adapted their ovipositors into stingers. Besides the fire ant workers, other Worker ants evolved without their ovipositors. Lets be lucky for that. There are a lot of ants in our area. It would be a shame if they all had stingers.
The Worker caste pulls a lot of weight. Queens reproduce. Males are basically sperm donors. Males play no other role within the colony. Yet Workers expand and maintain. In certain instances, their role is to expand away from the main colony. By doing so, they develop what is called a satellite colony.
A satellite colony expands the range of a thriving main colony. For example, a pavement ant colony underneath your driveway matures into a super colony. It may grow so large that it is necessary to expand their feeding range. At this point they move into your home.
Satellite colonies also expose the young to more favorable environmental conditions. Reproduction requires a certain temperature and humidity. Queens are often located deep within a nest. This is where the temperature and humidity is just right. Carpenter ant eggs require high humidity. As a result queens need to be deep inside a tree. At a certain point, Worker ants relocate older larvae to complete their development. When these ants nest inside your home, there is no queen inside. It is simply a satellite colony.
Ant Species In Ohio
There are many different kinds of ants in Ohio. In the Cleveland area, the pavement ant is our most common. This pest is not native. Large colonies establish themselves under our driveways and hardscapes. Homes with older pavement get hit pretty bad. Not to mention homes with paver stone patios. These ants have one reproducing queen. Yet their colonies can consist of multiple nests.
Likewise the carpenter ant is a significant pest. They take up residence inside the shade trees surrounding our homes. Then they do what pests do best. They expose the weak points in our homes. Satellite colonies are established in the water damaged wood around windows and doors. Basically anywhere that once had a water leak. Perhaps you had a gutter overflow, or a plumbing leak in the bathroom. Carpenter ants will find those areas and nest in them.
Those two are the main problem ants in Cleveland, OH. There are others though. Some ants have multiple Queens. For example, the odorous house ant. They do not smell too bad actually. Yet they can be a pain to get rid of. Same goes for the pharaoh ant. This tiny yellow ant can become a huge nightmare once they get inside of a structure.
Other Notable Species
There are other small ants that have multiple Queens. The tiny black ant, and the Allegheny mound ant are important. The tiny black ant is a common household ant. Think of it as a native- not so bad pavement ant. Most interesting are the Allegheny mound ant. These are small ants too. Yet their ground nests are quite grand. Mounds of excavated Earth signify the presence of these ants. Huge underground colonies are rather impressive to see. Yet not many people want their lawns ruined by them. They are kind of like moles; cool animals as long as they are not on your property.
The yellow-footed crazy ant is a new invasive ant species. Somehow they found their way into the Cleveland area. Luckily they tend to stick to our parks and not in residential areas. These pests do not need much to survive. As a result they are pushing out our native ant species.
Every now and then you will come across another kind of ant. Larger yellow ants are pretty cool. They smell like citronella. We even have carpenter ants that are a reddish-yellow color. There is even acrobat ants around here. Not to make them into something special, but their abdomens stick up when they get disturbed.