Ants go marching one by one, the little one stop in my kitchen.

Do you have ants running around?

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science lab testing for diseases
ant anatomy
ants on strawberry.jpg
ant carrying a leaf

Why are Ants a pest?

Ants are considered a nuisance pest in and around buildings.

Mounds: most people don't like to see mounds which are made by ants excavating the area. They can be found in gardens, on paths, balconies and around skirting boards and architrave bases. These excavations can cause damage to older paths and why they can crack.

Trails: most people don't like to see the trail of ants in and around buildings. Ants can attack plants and consume seeds and seedlings. 

Swarms: most people don't like it when ants swarm within premises.

Do Ants carry diseases?

Ants may present a health risk.

Ant mechanically carry on their bodies and in their digestive track disease organisms causing dysentery and a variety of pathogenic bacteria, including Salmonella. 

Ants are scavengers and can be found in kitchens, food areas, bins, garbage cans, dog excrement, and other possible sources of disease organisms, their potential for transmitting diseases to humans should not be overlooked. 

Ants can bite and sting humans which can be extremely painful.

What do Ants look like?

Ants have three clearly defined body segments which are the head, thorax and abdomen. 

Head: it carries compound eyes, elbowed antennae and sometimes ocelli. The antennae has four of the senses smell, touch, taste and hearing

Thorax: is in the middle of the body. It is the powerful muscular part that hold the six legs

Abdomen:  the abdominal sections that connect to the thorax are smaller are the nodes, they have a waisted appearance. These are an important feature in identifying different species of ants.

Wings: when present wings are membranous and forewings tend to be broader and longer than hindwings.

Feet: their feet are incredibly sticky and this allows them to crawl up walls and on ceilings carrying their body weight.

How do Ants reproduce?

They have a complete metamorphosis like a butterfly.  Eggs, to larvae which looks like a whitish grub that is narrow towards the head. The larvae is fed by the adult for a few months then pupates. The pupa is the transition stage to the adult. It is soft, creamy-white but inactive. In some species of ants the pupa is in a cocoon. When it emerges it may take a few hours to days to for the process of cuticle hardening and darkening, then it is an adult. The development from egg to adulthood may take from six weeks to longer, depending on ant species, food availability, temperature, season and a range of other factors. 

3 castes/types of ants

1. Male - adult males have wings. Their function is to mate with the female. After mating they die.

2. - Female - is the largest in body size. Begins adult life as a winged insect, but they loss their wings soon after mating. The female cares for the first group of young. Depending on the ant species there may be several females or just one the "queen". Females have a long lifespan of 15 years.

3. Worker - the caste comprises of sterile wingless females. They serve the colony by nest building, foraging for food, feeding immature ants and other castes species there are different kinds of workers. Large workers with well-developed heads are called 'soldiers'. Workers mostly live for about a year. 

What unusual habits do Ants have?

Ants mainly live in a permanent nest but in unfavourable conditions may change the nest location. Nests can be in soil, timber, under pavers, in wall cavities and roof voids. The reproductive ants live in the nest, whilst the workers forage for food.


The workers leave the nest to forage for food. When a food source is found they mark the trail with a pheromone secretion called a 'scent trail'.  Worker ants follow these well defined trails to take the food back to the nest. They can travel considerable distances for their food.  Ant activity increases during periods of high humidity and when new nests are established. Ants are predators or scavengers . Ant species that are omnivorous scavengers who consume animal and plant products are often found in peoples dwellings. 

Ants sensors are used for communication:-

Smell - ant trails

Taste - regurgitation of their food to each other

Hearing - tapping or rubbing body parts

Touch - antennal stroking

Sight - some species of ants have well developed sight

Pest ants in our local area:-

Black Ant

Appearance - 2.5-3mm and black

Nesting Habits - most nests are outside, against paths and in rockeries and other crevices. May nest in wall cavity and sometimes indoors or in the subfloor.

Feeding habits - eats a variety of food material but prefers sweet.

Coastal Brown Ant

Appearance - 1.5-2.5 mm. Light yellowish brown to darker brown

Nesting habits - often located within building structures, in crevices in brickwork, in wall cavities and behind skirting and architraves. Sometimes nest around paths and rockeries.

Feeding habits - prefer materials of animal origin, including dead insects, meat particles, fat and grease.