Common Ant Species

Ants are some of the most clever and resourceful pests. They are able to sneak into your business by the hundreds through cracks in windows and doors.

Some ant species live in colonies that are supported by a single queen while others are supported by multiple queens. It’s important to know the type of ant you are dealing with, as each species presents unique challenges. Although there are 1,000 ant species known in the U.S., there are relatively few that we commonly see as pests. These include:

Argentine Ant

(Linepithema humile)

Argentine ant

Appearance

  • Length: workers about 1.6mm long
  • Color: light to dark brown
Lifecycle and habits of the Argentine ant

Lifecycle

  • Worker ants produced in spring and increase in numbers up until autumn.
  • Winged ants (reproductive Kings and Queens) are produced in early spring, before the workers, mature within three months and mate soon afterward.
  • Argentine ants mate in their nest so no swarming is seen.

Habits

  • Worker ants will follow food trails for long distances so nests are not easy to track.
  • They prefer sweet foods but will also eat live and dead insects, meats, cereals and damaged fruit.
  • Argentine ants drive out other ant species from an area.
  • They bite - do not sting.
Seeing ants in your business? Contact us here!

Black House Ant

(Ochetellus)

black house ant

Appearance

  • Length: 2.5 - 3mm long
  • Color: Shiny and black
Lifecycle and habits of the black house ant

Lifecycle

  • Larva hatches out of the egg as a white grub which is narrower towards the head. They are fed by the adults.
  • The larva pupates and appears creamy-white, looking similar to an adult. Sometimes they have a protective silk cocoon around them.
  • The adult emerges with the three defined body sections: head, thorax and abdomen.
  • The length of time between the egg stage and adult can take 6 weeks or more; it depends on a variety of factors such as the species of ant, the temperature and the availability of food.
  • Fertilized eggs become female, unfertilized become males.

Habits

  • These ants are regarded as a nuisance and scavenge in kitchens, garbage and also dog excrement, therefore potentially spreading diseases such as salmonella.
  • 'Common Ants' include the intensely black 'Black House Ants', and they are attracted to sweets.
  • The most effective control measure is to find the colony and treat it.

Carpenter Ant

(Camponotus pennsylvanicus)
Carpenter Ant - Camponotus pennsylvanicus

Appearance

  • Length: Workers - 1/4 inch and Queen - ½ inch
  • Color: most commonly black but can also be black and red
Lifecycle and habits of the carpenter ant

Lifecycle

  • Swarms appear in the spring
  • Colonies of carpenter ants can live from 3-6 years

Habits

  • Carpenter ants inhabit both moist and dry wood, but prefer moist, especially wood dampened by water leaks.
  • Inside, they excavate galleries in wood with a smooth appearance. Outside, they sometimes hollow out sections of trees.
  • These ants hunt for food mainly at night but also during the day in early spring and summer. They do not eat wood. In homes they are attracted to sweet substances, fats, grease, and meats.
  • They rarely come into contact with people, but if they do, they will try to escape. They cannot sting.

Garden Ant

(Lasius niger)

Garden Ant

Appearance

  • Length: Workers: 4-5mm and Queens: 15mm
  • Color: dark brown-black
Lifecycle and habits of the garden ant

Lifecycle

  • Queens overwinter in soil. Eggs are laid in late spring.
  • Larvae hatch 3-4 weeks later.
  • Larvae feed on secretions from the queen’s salivary glands until the first worker ants emerge.
  • Worker ants continue with larval care, nest building and food foraging.
  • Fertile males are produced later in the season.

Habits

  • Foraging worker ants follow well–defined trails around food sources. Sweet foods are preferred but high protein foods will also be taken.
  • Swarming characteristics – mating between queens and fertile males takes place on the wing in mid to late summer. Males perish after mating.
  • Nests are often located outdoors in soil and below paving slabs on the sunny side of buildings.
  • Nest locations can be identified by the presence of finely powdered soil around nest exit holes.
Seeing ants in your business? Contact us here!

Odorous House Ant

(Tapinoma sessile)

odorous house ant

Appearance

  • Length: 1/16 to ⅛  inch
  • Color: brown or black
Lifecyle and habits of the odorous house ant

Lifecycle

  • The time to adult phase of development is 34-38 days. 
  • These ants typically live for several years.

Habits

  • Odorous house ants eat most household foods, especially sugary food, e.g. sweets and fruits. They also eat pet food.
  • They are attracted to moisture. In hot, dry environments nests can be found in house plants and even lids of toilets.
  • These ants produce a coconut smell when crushed.
  • Colonies range in size from 100-10,000.

Pavement Ant

(Tetramorium caespitum)

Pavement Ant

Appearance

  • Length: 3mm
  • Color: dark brown or blackish
Lifecycle and habits of the pavement ant

Lifecycle

  • Pavement ants are primarily visible in spring and summer.
  • They have been known to emerge any time of the year in heated structures.

Habits

  • Pavement ants eat almost anything that humans eat, and also pet food.
  • They can be seen entering houses looking for food, most often at night. They may move through pipes and electrical wires.
  • Nests are built in lawns or under stones, wood, or boards. Mounds are built along sidewalks, baseboards, and near foundations in clusters.
  • Colonies are found near water.

Pharaoh Ant

(Monomorium pharaonis)

Pharoahs Ant Monomorium pharaonis

Appearance

  • Length: Workers - 1.5-2mm. Males - 3mm. Queens 3.5-6mm.
  • Color: Workers - yellow-brown with brown abdomen. Males - black and winged. Queens - dark red with wings.
Lifecycle and habits of the pharaoh ant

Lifecycle

  • Colonies have multiple queens.
  • Swarming can take place at any time of the year.
  • Winged adults seldom fly so they are rarely seen. Wings are soon lost after mating.

Habits

  • Well–defined trails are laid which are often associated with heating systems. Feeds indoors on high protein foods — meat, fats, blood, dead insects, etc.
  • New colonies are often formed through nests that have been disturbed e.g., as a result of insecticide spray treatments.
  • Each queen produces up to 3,500 eggs in its lifetime.
  • Nests are located deep within cavities in heated buildings — often found in hospitals. They are often associated with humid conditions.
  • Colonies can range from a few dozen to 300,000 individuals.
Seeing ants in your business? Contact us here!

Rasberry Ant

(Nylanderia fulva)

sugar-ant-image

Appearance

  • Length: Approximately 3.2mm
  • Color: reddish-brown and covered in small hairs
Lifecycle and habits of the rasberry ant

Lifecycle

  • Rasberry ant colonies live under stones or debris without a centralized location.
  • Workers will not forage during the winter. In spring, the foraging starts and mating season begins, as they prefer the warmer months and warmer climates.
  • Colonies can grow into the many, many millions that increase as summer arrives.
  • Rasberry ant colonies remain long into fall.

Habits

  • Rasberry ants can bite and use formic acid as a defense that can cause minute pain if their colony is attacked.
  • These ants can multiply into numbers so large they have been known to suffocate flocks of chickens by entering the nasal cavity.
  • They have a preference for electronic devices, often causing short circuits and ruining televisions, computers, radios and other electronics by infesting the object with enough ants to make the device stop working.
  • The formic acid these ants produce has been proven to act as an anti-venom from fire ant stings.
  • Rasberry ants have spread quickly from South America to warmer regions in the U.S. such as Texas and southern California.

Ant identification

Properly identifying ant species is a crucial component of the treatment process. Different species require different methods of treatment. Whether you are dealing with Rasberry ants versus Carpenter ants could mean using a liquid insecticide or bait station.Therefore without a proper identification of the species, the best ant control method cannot be applied.

To the untrained eye, all ants may look alike. However, there are many distinctions that set species apart both biologically and behaviorally. Rentokil Specialists have been trained to identify the most common ants found in businesses in the United States.

Call us today at 800-837-5520 or contact us online to learn how our services can help treat an ant infestation on your property.


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