Texas Leaf cutter ants are mounded ants, like fire ants..that establish a mound outside. Found mainly in the United States, in south central and eastern Texas and into parts of western Louisiana.
They are also called "cut ants" or "parasol ants".
A leaf cutter's ant nest can be quite large,covering up to several hundred square feet in area and extend as deep as 8 feet into the ground. They are mainly a rural, agriculture pest, but can be found in subdivisions.
Leaf cutter ants usually come to your attention when plants, trees or shrubs are being stripped of their leaves. The usually like to select one type of plant to feed off, ignoring others.
Leaf-cutter ants are major agricultural pests in Central and South America. It has been estimated they do $1 billion damage per year in North and South America(Mallis,1969). These ants still cause millions of dollars in crop losses in many South American countries.
Although primarily an agricultural pest, this insect on occasion may invade the home for cereals. In the United States, the Texas leaf-cutting ant, occurs in Texas and Louisiana. This ant is believed to cause a total yearly loss of $5 million in the United States (Mallis, 1960).
The worker ants range from size for 1/16"-to 1/2 ".
They are red, with two nodes.The winged reproductives or swarmers produced by the leaf cutter ant colonies are quite big.
The females are well over 2 inch long with the males being much smaller. They are rusty brown.
A relatively large ant with a spiny body and long legs.
Sometimes, they enter structures, but don't stay long. Look for nest that have high moisture such as creek beds,drainage ditches, and streams. Sometimes you can discover their nest, by following the foraging ants home. A nest will have many entrances with craters of loose soil that has been deposited above. During the summer, workers forage during the night.
They will forage in the daytime during the spring and fall unless it is rainy or overcast. A "trail" of leaves can lead you to a nest as well. Try to discover the entrances to the nest for possible treatment.
The swarmers often swarm in the night during the months of April or May. They are attracted to lights on buildings and can be found crawling, by a hugh amount on the buildings following a major swarm.
They cause no damage.
Using their scissor-like jaws, they completely strip trees and other plants of their foliage, carrying back the leaves to their vast underground nests, where millions of ants live. It is in these chambers that leaf-cutters do something very unusual with the leaves that they bring back to the nest.
The leaves are not eaten; they are chewed into a pulp-like material, which soon sprouts a fungus. This special, mushroom-like fungus serves as the colony's only food.
Being very selective about the species of leaves they collect, causes these ants to travel several hundred yards on leaf gathering foraging . The ants leave an invisible scent on the trails they use in order to find their way home.
The nest may cover 3,000 to 4,500 square feet and may be 8 feet or more deep. A nest has many chambers containing fungus, perhaps two to three dozen, and many dozens of entrances. containing fungus, perhaps two to three dozen, and many dozens of entrances. In addition, the nest of some species of leaf cutter ants may contain 1,000,000 or more workers. Their queens are among the largest of ants.
Leaf-cutter ants help maintain the health of the environment. The by-products from the leaves, fungi and ant wastes fertilize the soil.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS AND TREATMENT :
It is recommended that you drench the mounds with a weakened diluted residual insecticide;such as MASTERLINE Insecticide.
However the nest may be deep, and often located near bodies of water, so in doubt call your local extension agency for their recommendations.
Demon WP, Termidor sc, Phantom, Cyper WP
Demon WP, Cyper WP are considered quarterly treatments, sprayed every 2-3 months. Termidor sc and Phantom is the preferred choice, because it is a non repellent insecticide. non-repellent termite or insecticide treatment, meaning that termites or carpenter ants unknowingly enter a treated zone of applied chemical. Many times ants may want to establish a trail away from the chemical treated area.
This treatment will also stop new populations of carpenter ants and other invading pests such as roaches and spiders. Spray around the foundation of the structure, around 2-3 feet high as well as around the ground floor doors and windows.
Spray in the garage and basement areas along the baseboards. Termidor sc is labeled for outside treatment only.
These products will give you about three months' protection or longer.
termidor and phantom are liquids and Demon WP and Cyper WP are a wettable powders.
They both work well on all kinds on surfaces, however Demon WP and Cyper WP can leave a visible residue against dark surfaces and Termidor sc and Phantom will dry invisible.