Do you have ant problems? Ants can easily find their way inside your home and help themselves to any available food source. Learn about different species of ants you may find in your home, as well as the way they operate as a colony. TERRO® offers effective ant prevention and control solutions for inside and outside your home!
- Common Species
Common Ant Species
Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) are readily adaptable and can nest in a variety of places. They often live in soil, or under wood, logs, debris or mulch. They may also nest in cavities at the base of shrubs and trees. Argentine ants feed on sweets, honeydew and oily household foods.
Their colonies are massive and may contain hundreds of queens. Argentine ants do not establish new nests through swarming. Instead, they construct new nests around the original, and remain connected to the queen’s old colony. These ants travel in trails between their web of nests and food sources.
Over time, the network of interconnecting colonies could become a massive infestation. Each colony of Argentine ants can contain millions of insects. These colonies can span entire city blocks.
Carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.) are among the largest ants in the United States, ranging from 1/6" to ½" long. Carpenter ants will feed on a variety of food people eat—particularly sweets and meats. They will also feed on other insects.
While many people think carpenter ants eat wood, they do not. Instead, they nest in moist, decaying or hollow wood. They cut paths into the wood grain to form their nests by removing wood and depositing the debris outside their nests in small piles. This activity produces wood shavings, which is a clue to their presence in and around your home.
If treated early, carpenter ants are seldom responsible for serious structural damage to houses and buildings. However, these ants could cause extreme damage if their nest-building activities remain undiscovered for an extended period.
Crazy ants (Nylanderia fulva) get their name from the fact that they often look frantic and erratic in their movement, as if they are lost, instead of following a defined trail. Crazy ants' legs are extremely long, which gives them a very distinct appearance. Adult crazy ants are less than 1/8” long and dark brown or black in color with elongated antennae.
Since they were discovered in the United States in 2002, crazy ants have quickly spread to Texas, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. They form networks of colonies with multiple queens, also known as super colonies, and have quickly upped their population numbers from a few thousand to hundreds of millions.
Crazy ants are highly versatile, living in both moist and dry habitats. They cannot survive in extremely cold climates and may infest houses and buildings when weather changes. It’s estimated that they cause about $146.5 million in electrical damage each year when millions of ants are electrocuted in small circuits or wires, where they seek warmth.
Crazy ant workers are omnivorous, feeding on both dead and live insects, honeydew produced from insects, fruits, plant secretions, seeds and a variety of household food items such as sweets, meats, grease and liquids.
Fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) are probably one of the more feared ant species out there – and rightfully so. They are very aggressive ants and will latch onto victims and inject their stingers, delivering a nice dose of venom. The venom of fire ants causes painful burning. Not to mention, fire ants have been known to destroy plants, crops, leaves, seeds and fruit.
Most commonly found in the southern United States, these reddish-colored ants can also be found as far north as Virginia. Like some other pests we contend with, fire ants were originally brought to the United States through a port in Alabama.
Fire ants live in mounds that are both above and well below the surface of the ground. Fire ants can build impressive colonies, with as many as 500,000 worker ants.
The ghost ant (Tapinoma melanocephalum) gets its name from the pale color of its legs and abdomen, which make it difficult to see. These ants eat honeydew that they collect from plant-feeding insects. The worker ants also gather insects to feed the colony. When they are indoors, ghost ants usually prefer sweets.
These ants have dark heads and thoraxes. Ghost ants are tropical ants that have been in south and central Florida for several years. In northern states, these ants typically only survive in heated buildings and greenhouses.
They enter buildings on trails that they make along the ground. They also enter houses by trailing on utility lines or by following limbs of trees and shrubs that touch the house. When ghost ants make nests indoors, it is usually in flowerpots, behind baseboards and inside walls. The colony may split into several nests. It is normal to find ghost ants trailing between multiple nesting sites.
Little Black Ants
Little black ants (Monomorium minimum) are a native species found throughout the United States. They are small (as their name implies) and dark brown, black or jet black in color. They have moderate- to large-sized colonies, with two or more queens. Little black ant swarms are common from June to August, in which mated females form new, quick-growing colonies.
Outside, they build nests in areas such as woodwork voids, rotting logs, cracks in cement, lawns and open areas. Indoors, the little black ant can be located in wooden items as well as in walls and the junction between the carpet and walls.
When infestation occurs, gaps and cracks in exterior walls need to be sealed. It is important to remove decaying wood, firewood and other debris surrounding a home if you suspect an infestation. While it is difficult to see individual little black ants due to their small size, their nests can be located by following the trail of worker ants back to the colony.
Odorous House Ants
Odorous house ants (Tapinoma sessile) have small, dark brown or black bodies with an unevenly shaped thorax. However, the most distinguishable characteristic of odorous house ants is the smell of rotten coconut that they give off when their bodies are crushed.
Inside buildings, you can find them nesting in the walls or beneath the floor. They are most likely to invade buildings during rainy weather. While odorous house ants do not sting or bite, they can become persistent pests, traveling indoors in large numbers.
Odorous ants travel along pheromone trails, foraging day and night. Outdoors, these ants often feed on honeydew, a sugary waste produced by insects such as aphids. Inside buildings, odorous ants prefer sweet items; however, they will also feed on meats and grease. Because odorous house ants tend to forage inside homes, they can easily contaminate human food supplies.
Pavement ants (Tetramorium caespitum) are found throughout the United States and are major pests in the Midwest. They earned their name because they nest in cracks in driveways and under sidewalks, piling the resulting dirt in a mound on top of the pavement.
Pavement ants invade buildings while foraging for food. They feed on a wide variety of foods, including meats and grease as well as live and dead insects, seeds and honeydew. While pavement ants prefer to eat greasy foods, they will eat many of the same foods as humans. Once finding an adequate food source for the colony, they leave scent trails back to the nest, alerting other ants where they can find food.
Outdoor nests are usually under stones, along curbs or in cracks of pavement. They can nest indoors in walls and under floors as well. Pavement ant workers enter houses to forage and can become a nuisance when large groups infest a kitchen or garden patio. In addition, they can sting and bite, which makes getting rid of them essential.
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