Ants are common insects, but they have some distinctive abilities. More than 10,000 recognized species of ants occur worldwide. They are particularly prevalent in tropical forests, where they make up to half of all insects living in some areas. Ants usually live in organized nest groups that may be found underground, in ground-level mounds, or trees.  Some species, such as army ants, defy the rule and do not have permanent homes. Instead, they find food during times of migration for their enormous colonies.

How To Tell If It Is An Ant

An ant usually has a large head and a slender, oval abdomen joined by a narrow waist to the thorax or midsection. They have either one or two finlike extensions running along the thin waist area in all ants. The antennae are elbowed at all times. Two pairs of jaws are available: the outer pair is used for carrying items such as food and digging, and the inner pair is used for chewing. At the tip of the abdomen, certain species have a potent sting.

Ant’s communities are led by a queen. The role of the queen is to lay thousands of eggs to ensure the colony’s survival. Workers (ants that are normally seen by humans) are wingless women who never reproduce but forage for food instead, care for the queen, work on the nest, protect the community, and perform several other duties.

There is often only one role for male ants; mating with the queen. They will die after they have completed this purpose.

Ant Diet

Ants communicate and cooperate by using chemicals that can alert others to danger or lead them to a promising food source. Usually, they consume nectar, nuts, insects, or fungi. Some ants, however, have more unique diets. Reptiles, insects, or even small mammals can be preyed upon by army ants.

What The Heck Is Trophallaxis?

Trophallaxis is the process of ants (and other similar insects) sharing their food with others. For example, a worker ant can go out foraging and find some liquid food. It would then suck up that food and store some of it in it’s “social stomach” or “crop”.

When back in the nest, the ant will regurgitate the liquid so that ants inside the nest will eat it up!

On a side note, many bees will practice trophallaxis too!

Will Ants Get Out Of Control?

An ant infestation is often difficult to detect. In pursuit of food, these tiny insects typically invade your home. When a scout ant finds out excellent food sources in your home, it leaves a scent for other ants to track. This is why they spread so fast.

It is difficult to get rid of most ant infestations by home remedies and may need a qualified pest control professional. While ants will not necessarily damage a home, carpenter ants will “excavate” already damaged wood. Things can get very ugly when ants consume the house piece by piece. If an ant infestation that is left untreated gets out of control, many other negative effects can happen.

How to Detect an Ant Infestation

It’s important to remember the signs of an ant infestation before finding out about the harm that ants can do.

1. This could be a sign of an infestation if you frequently see ants in your house. This usually means they’ve set up a colony, but you probably can’t see it. A pest control specialist is going to be able to locate and remove the colony.

2. Typically, carpenter ants travel far away from the nest to find food. As previously mentioned, they will chew already damaged wood (such. as from water damage), so if you see tiny piles of wood shavings where they are burrowing into the wood, it’s easy to spot a carpenter ant infestation.

3. You should call a professional immediately if you start seeing ants with wide wings flying around and coming out of crevices, as this is a clear indication of an infestation. Ants with wings mean that within your house, there is already a large colony formed somewhere.

Ants are often confused as termites. Not only can they look similar, sometime piles of wood can be misidentified as frass (drywood termite droppings). Both termites and ants have 2 pairs of wings (4 wings total), however termite wings are the same size while ants wings are two different sizes. Termites also have straight antennae while ants have an “elbow” in their antennae.

Will Ants Cause Damage?

Several types of ants are likely to invade your house. Some of them only want to eat your food, while others at your house, literally eat away.

1. The sugar ant is one common ant species. They’re not really dangerous to your house, but they love to snack on any available food. Keep the food well stored and keep your kitchen tidy. When you see them marching across your kitchen counter, call a professional.

2. Carpenter ants are one of the most aggressive species of ants. Tunnels are made, and they nest in wood already damaged wood. They can cause significant structural damage to your house if you do not detect an infestation on time. An infestation of a carpenter ant typically means there is a problem with moisture. Building materials such as wood and foam insulation will infest them, which makes them a severe danger. Carpenter ants will also move in where drywood termites previously lived.

3. Damage caused by ants varies. They’re mostly a nuisance and typically do some harm. For instance, Pharaoh ants can infest your food. They can create nests in walls, voids in the cabinet, insulation in the refrigerator, and fold clothes. They can scatter and cause several problems if you try to get rid of them with substances.

How Many Ants Are There???

There are ten most common types of ants, each of which have some distinctive features that make them identifiable. In total, there are more than 10000 species of ants worldwide and over 700 + species in the United States alone.

Common House Infesting Ants

Carpenter ants 

In the United States, carpenter ants are probably one of the most common types of ants. For example, in colder climates in the USA’s northern part, they can normally be found. With some red stripes on their black bodies, you can easily identify them.

Carpenter ants are most active during the night, unlike many ant species, mostly following linear trails such as water hoses or fences.

This means that outside, in various wood sources, these ants normally build nests. llThey can reach inside using various trails like broken windows and cack in w due to their high mobility. They can cause a good amount of damage to your property because of that.

But, this is not always the case and depends on the infestation’s severity. These ants can bite but are unable to sting, making them somewhat less aggressive than red ants.

 Red imported fire ants

Also common in the USA are the red imported fire ants. Currently, they’re located in Texas, New Mexico, Maryland, Florida and California. Because of their distinctive red-brown color, these ants can be identified easily. In addition, they also have two pedicels and are slightly smaller in size, varying from 1/16 to 3/16 inches in length.

Their nests are very prominent but with no noticeable entrances and openings, as they create noticeable mounds. Red ants are known for their violent behavior and reactions to disruption of the nest. This involves painful stings that leave the skin with red welts. Special care may be needed for people allergic to insect stings and bites.

In most cases, red ants establish their nests outside, but they will enter households and buildings when they need food and water. This generally occurs in the late summer, but it can also happen on cooler days.

Crazy Ants

They are named Crazy Ants for a reason. When looking for food, they are known for their extremely fast running speeds and erratic running, thus looking like they are crazy. They are also on the bigger side of the scale, ranging from 1/16 to 1/8 inches in length. They can be found anywhere in the United States, both in hot and cold, moist and dry environments.

Two types of species belong to this type of ant:

  • Paratrechina
  • Nylanderia 

In South and East Texas, the first one is usually found, and it has a dark brown tint, sometimes black, followed by a greyish glow. When the humidity is greater during the autumn, this ant is very swift and typically infests buildings as it nests under the floor or carpets. Sometimes it can be found outside, especially in the soil of potted plants.

The second form is a little distinct. It’s a different kind of crazy ant with the same behavior as the previous one, also found in Texas and the Gulf Coast. It’s distinct in tone, however, having a light brown or yellowish accent. Unless you find them in your home where they can bite, both of these are not dangerous for your health.

Acrobat Ants

Though much smaller, acrobat ants are somewhat similar to carpenter ants, which is why individuals in the Northern United States sometimes struggle to identify them. Carpenter ants in the North are black while Southern Carpenter ants are red. But, acrobat ants, which are considered medium-sized, are significantly smaller. They look exactly the same at first glance, but the variations can be seen when studied more closely. Carpenter ants have just one pedicel, for instance, while acrobat ants have 2.

Activity-wise, these ants are different from carpenter ants, are active during the day, inactive during the night. They are called acrobat ants because when disturbed, they raise their gasters, creating a defensive stance, similar to an acrobat balancing on his hands.

Typically, they nest in trees outside, in most cases. It’s not odd, though, to see them in insulation systems and walls.

Pharaoh Ants

The Pharaoh ants have a distinctive appearance, making them easy to identify. They’re very short, about 1/32 inches long at the beginning. They have a yellowish tint, followed by two pedicels, as well as a dark brown gaster. The staff is all the same size, similar to acrobat ants.

Since they live inside, you will find them inside your home in various locations. Ideally, they nest in dark, narrow areas, such as electrical boxes, cardboard boxes, wall holes, etc. When it comes to feeding, they’re also picky, usually consuming foods rich in proteins and sugar.

Regardless of temperature, humidity, and other factors, Odorous house ants are found in every part of the world. This ant is dark brown, often black, and medium-sized, with 1/16 to 1/8 inches.

They love Sweet food. Whether you spill your juice or a box of candy, they are going to be there to feast on it.

Odorous House Ants

They can nest indoors as well as outdoors.  When outdoors, they prefer to be under bricks, exposed dirt, and mulch locations. They can be under floors or inside wall cracks indoors. It offers a particular scent that appears crushed.

Odorous house smells like rotten coconut, some say, while others say it smells like licorice. As with many kinds of ants, odorous house ants can contaminate food and should not be tolerated…unless you like salmonella.

Leaf-cutting ants

One of the largest ants is the leaf-cutting ant, easily recognized simply by this trait. It has a particular behavior that makes it special holding leaves.

As they make mounds that mimic craters, their nest is also unusual. “Since leaf-cutting ants make some sections that resemble the city of real life, the nest looks like a” city.

These plant materials are put down, and a special form of fungus is cultivated, which is the source of food for this ant. Unlike many other types of ants, these have different-sized workers, with mainly brown colors with some red accents.

They have very long legs and their thorax has three spines, followed by a smooth gaster. This ant rarely invades homes since they live almost outside. It can be found in backyards, especially if you have a lot of grass and soil. They are commonly found in Texas however they are not exclusive to Texas..

Rover Ants

In size, the Rover ants are very similar to the Pharaoh ants. They’re really thin, and they’re brown, instead of light brown and yellow. They even like candy, similar to house ants, in terms of food. You can see them outside in places, such as trees, sidewalks, and stairs since they nest outside.

If they come into your house, know they don’t sting so you’re not in danger. But since these ants appear to reproduce rapidly, it is recommended that you eradicate them as soon as possible. Despite living mainly outside, if they find a hole inside the walls you will find them nesting in your home. Their workers are all the same size.

Argentine Ants

Mainly in the southeastern part of the USA, Argentine ants can be found. These ants are 1/16 to 1/14 inches in size and can vary from small to medium-sized. Since they primarily infect wet areas, they shouldn’t think too much about those living in hotter countries. Yet, if there’s a source of food near them, they’ll be able to live there, regardless of the circumstances.

They also have a specific odor when crushed, like odorous house ants, so you shouldn’t let them touch your food. They don’t usually pose a threat to your health, but your food can be contaminated.

Pavement Ants

Pavement ants are medium-sized insects up to 1/8 inches long. Like Argentine ants, they are present in the whole of the USA as well. As their name suggests, they can also be found under the pavements, but often in houses and offices, entering through holes in the walls.

Though not health-threatening, since they can contaminate food, they should not be left to hang around. Inform your exterminator about them as soon as you notice the infestation and let them exterminate it or use Advion Ant Gel to get rid of them.

Florida Ants

If you live in Florida, you know that inside our homes, ants are frequent guests. It is not uncommon to find a trail of these little six-legged creatures even in the cleanest house, making their way along the floor, across a countertop, or up a wall. Ants are much more prevalent outside. Without jumping over an ant mound, you can not take more than a few steps in most yards. There are a considerable number of species of ants that call Florida their home. State residents, however, are lucky that most of them do not bother homeowners or owners of businesses. Therefore, we would only concentrate on ants that are the most likely to become pests or bite and sting. 

Florida is home to nearly 20 ants of various kinds. Here are a couple that you are likely to come across:

  1. Carpenter Ants from Florida

Up to 11 mm (about .5) “long, Florida carpenter ants are fairly large by ant standards. Their orange and black bodies make it very simple to classify them. In decayed wood, trees, and shrubs, Florida carpenter ants are just as happy constructing nests outdoors as they are in attics, walls, floors, and other secluded areas indoors. They mainly feed at night for food and eat insect honeydew, plant juices, insects, or any sweets they might find. When threatened, they are understood to bite and can even spray formic acid.

  1. Red Imported Fire Ants

Red imported fire ants are more aggressive than other ants species, and if you accidentally step too close to their mounds, they will gladly bite you. By chewing, they catch hold of their prey (or even the ankles) and then sting to inject toxin using their abdominals. For several days, the site of the bite might be sore and scratching. There can be even larger threats for people who are hypersensitive. Whereas red imported fire ants feed mainly on young plants, small animals can be attacked and killed. With copper-colored heads, these ants have blackish to reddish bodies. Red imported fire ants prefer nesting under logs or rocks, but they also make dome-shaped mounds in fields or yards.

  1. Bigheaded ants

Collecting mounds of sand around the edges of your driveway or between the sidewalk cracks? Those could be big-headed ants. These ants love to cover their foraging tracks with dirt and debris. The dirt piles formed by the bigheaded ant can be a nuisance inside the house. As their name suggests, in contrast to other colony members, some of these ants have big heads. While the representatives with the smaller heads are called minor workers, they are referred to as major workers or soldiers. Bigheaded ants feed on candy, other insects, and soil invertebrates and are omnivorous.

  1. Rover Ants 

One of the smallest pest ants you can find is Rover ants. They only grow up to a length of 1.5-2 mm (1/16-1/12) and are dark brown or black. They typically nest in mulch or under debris lying on the ground and feed on the honeydew produced by sap-sucking insects. In the house, these ants are drawn to areas such as bathrooms or kitchens because of moisture.  

Budding

Budding is a common occurrence with “do it yourself pest control”. Budding occurs when ants are sprayed with irritant or insecticide that causes the ants to spread out. It may kill the few that it touches, however it sends a signal to the others that they need to bug out! So, where you used to have one colony of ants, now you have two, three or more.

The best way to prevent this from occurring is to use a non-repellent insecticide like Alpine WSG. Alpine and other similar products are effective because they do not kill right away and since they are non-repellent, the insect has no idea they just walked through it.

Alpine WSG
Alpine WSG Ant Control
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Dusty Showers has been in the urban nuisance wildlife and pest control field since 1993. Taught by Garon Fyffe, a pioneer in humane nuisance wildlife management, Dusty has a passion for finding humane solutions to human & wildlife conflicts. Dusty was the only individual invited by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission in the lat 1990's to help write legislation for legal protection of Florida bats. With an instinct for solving wildlife, Dusty found pest control to be an easy "add-on interest". Dusty started his first business "Animal Instincts Wildlife & Pest Management" in the Tampa Bay, Florida area in 1995. Eventually selling Animal Instincts in 2002, Dusty went on to start Creepy Creatures Termite and Pest Control in 2009, which he still owns and operates today in Palm Harbor, Florida.

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