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Be Aware of These 5 Types of Ants

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Meet the Bug(s)
Ants working together to cross from one leaf to an other leaf

There are over 12,000 + species of ants in our world, found in every climate possible. Of these 12,000 + species, there are 5 common species that every homeowner or renter should be aware of:

  1. Argentine Ants

  2. Carpenter Ants

  3. Odorous House Ants (also known as sugar ants)

  4. Pavement Ants

  5. Red Imported Fire Ants

Argentine Ants

Originating from Argentina and Brazil, it is theorized that this species was brought to the United States in the 1890s via freight ships. Argentine Ants can be found in southern states, California, Missouri, Illinois, Washington, Oregon, and Maryland. In appearance, Argentine Ants tend to be a dark brown to black in color, are shiny, and are found with or without wings.

They enjoy sweets like the common house ant but will eat just about anything. Argentine Ants leave pheromones wherever they forage, and in this species, the Queen will help the workers find food.

Argentine Ants do not carry diseases; they leave behind their waste, thus contaminating surfaces and food.

This ant species prefers areas where moisture is abundant and will nest and reproduce in standing water just like mosquitoes will. Therefore, removing any source of standing water will significantly improve the chances of not attracting this species of ants.

Carpenter Ants

Named so because they burrow into wood structures and build their nests within moldy and rotting wood, Carpenter Ants pose one of the greatest threats to facilities and homes of the species available. They do not eat the wood they remove but adjust it into piles at the entrances of their nest. As a result, they will create tunnel systems throughout wood frames, significantly weakening the structure and causing irreversible damage that will cost a lot of money to replace. In appearance, Carpenter Ants can range in color from black to red and are often mistaken for fire ants.

The chosen diet of Carpenter Ants is anything sweet, fruits, meats, and other insects, and they do not carry diseases, though they do cause damage to wherever they have located their nests.

Odorous House Ants (Sugar Ants)

So-called due to their odd scent of rotten coconuts when crushed, the Odorous House Ant, or Sugar Ant as we tend to call them, are native to the United States and tend to live in very social colonies of 100,000 + members. Talk about not having any privacy!

Their appearance is much like other species, brown to black in color, with six legs, antennae, and an oval and tapered-shaped body. They can also produce ants with and without wings based on the caste system.

As for diet, Odorous Ants prefer dead insects and sugary-sweet items, particularly any type of melon. They nest in just about anywhere, preferring rich and moist soil, but can be found in cracks in pavement or walls/floors, logs, mulch, and other debris.

This species also do not carry diseases, but they contaminate food and surfaces from the waste they leave behind.

Pavement Ants

Their namesake was gifted by their unusual nesting habits, choosing to build their colonies in the cracks in the pavement on driveways, roads, patios, etc. Typically, they are found in the Eastern U.S., California, and Washington.

The colors of Pavement Ants are like their cousin species, browns, and blacks, with six legs, antennae, and oval/tapered-shaped bodies. They also have some winged and some un-winged castes in their social hierarchy.

Their dietary restrictions aren't strict, and as a result, they eat just about anything from grease to other insects, along with their fallen brethren. They will eat sweets, meats, and fruit as well.

These disease-less insects impose no health risks, but they will contaminate surfaces and food with the waste they leave behind.

Red Imported Fire Ants

The warriors of the ant world, Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA or just Fire Ants), are an extremely aggressive species and are known for their burning sting that hurts quite a bit.

RIFA are found in almost every client; they are adaptable and intelligent. Their mounds are easily noticeable and should be avoided by anyone who isn't a pro at bug extermination. Their intelligence level is unmatched in the ant world, and when they notice a rise in moisture or water, they curl up together in a tight ball and will float, protecting the Queen and their young.

RIFA are a dark reddish-brown and has a segmented, oval shape with or without wings, six legs, and antennae.

They build their nests outdoors in soil, occasionally indoors, but prefer moist soil for their mounds, and their go-to sustenance is the vegetation around them.

Are Ants Good for Anything?

By destroying decaying or moldy wood and vegetation, ants help the environment. The problem is that they reproduce so quickly and move into areas, such as homes, that they become pests and are eradicated on site. Out in nature, in their natural habitats, ants are essential to our ecosystem.

Social Structures of Ant Colonies

All ants have a social caste system consisting of the Queen(s); some species have multiple Queens, the reproductive males whose job is only to mate with the emerging Queens, dying shortly after, and the female workers who, well, do the work.

How Do You Get Rid of Ants?

There are several over-the-counter remedies to get rid of ants that often work short-term. However, to get to the heart of a colony, you need more robust, commercialized chemicals that a trained exterminator should only wield for long-lasting pest control. Check out the link below for more information! All information was extracted from Pest World for Kids; all credit for research and information accumulation should go to them.


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