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Common ant species

As the majority of ant species prefer sunny climates, any environment is perfect for ants to thrive. Ants are ubiquitous. Out of around 15,000 ant species and subspecies worldwide, North America has close to 1,000 known species. The most familiar ant species in the U.S. are:               

Some ant species live in colonies that are supported by a single queen while others are supported by multiple queens. Although there are 1,000 ant species known in the U.S., there are few that we commonly see as pests.

Seeing ants in your home? Let us take care of it.

Argentine ant

(Linepithema humile)

Appearance

  • Length: 1/16" - 1/4"
  • Color: Dark brown to black and shiny
Lifestyle and habits of the argentine ant

Lifecycle

  • Produced in spring and increase in numbers up until autumn
  • Winged ants (reproductive kings and queens) mature within three months and mate soon afterward
  • Mate in their nest so no swarming is seen

Habits

  • Follow food trails for long distances so nests are not easy to track
  • Prefer sweet foods but will also eat live and dead insects, meats, cereals and damaged fruit
  • Drive out other ant species from an area
  • Bite – do not sting

Black house ant

(Ochetellus)

Appearance

  • Length: 1/16”
  • Color: Typically jet black
Lifestyle and habits of the black house ant

Lifecycle

  • Larva hatches out of the egg as a white grub
  • Adults emerge with the three defined body sections: head, thorax and abdomen
  • The length of time between the egg stage and adult can take 6+ weeks, depending on factors such as the temperature and the availability of food
  • Fertilized eggs become female, unfertilized become males

Habits

  • Regarded as a nuisance and scavenge in kitchens, garbage, and dog excrement, therefore potentially spreading diseases such as salmonella
  • Feed on oil, grease, meat, fruits, vegetables, and sweets
  • Forage in trails, often along sidewalks
Seeing ants in your home? Let us take care of it.

Carpenter ant

(Camponotus pennsylvanicus)
Carpenter Ant - Camponotus pennsylvanicus

Appearance

  • Length: 5/8"
  • Color: Red, black, or a combination
Life cycle and habits of the carpenter ant

Lifecycle

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

Habits

  • Live in both moist and dry wood, but prefer moist, especially wood dampened by water leaks
  • Excavate galleries in wood
  • Primarily active from dusk to dawn
  • Do not eat wood - they are attracted to sweet substances, fats, grease, and meats
  • Cannot sting/bite

Fire ant

(Solenopsis spp)

  • Red imported fire ant (solenopsis invicta) - Can be found in Virginia and south through Florida; particularly destructive to vegetation and can build giant colonies of over 100,000 members; forms a ball to float through floodwaters
  • Southern fire ant (solenopis xyloni) - Southern fire ants are active across the southern border of the U.S. from California to northern Florida; mounds can be found near trees; prey on other pests, but are still considered a threat to humans due to their capacity to sting and damage properties

Appearance

  • Length: ⅛”-⅜”
  • Color: dark reddish brown
Life cycle and habits of the fire ant

Lifecycle

  • After mating, the queen searches for a suitable spot to lay her eggs (up to 125) in late spring
  • Larvae hatch within 8 to 10 days, and the pupal stage lasts for 9 to 16 days
  • Larvae feed on secretions from the queen’s salivary glands and broken down wing muscles until the first worker ants emerge. After this first batch of larvae molt into workers the queen’s role returns to egg laying – she can lay up to 1500 per day. Worker ants continue with larval care, nest building and food foraging.
  • Fertile males are produced later in the season

Habits

  • Foraging workers diet consists of dead animals, including insects, earthworms, and vertebrates; also collect honeydew and forage for sweet food, proteins, and fats
  • Build large mound nests, often near landscaping or structural foundations
  • If aggravated, they react aggressively and can inflict a painful sting
  • Major agricultural and urban pest, destroying crops and invading residential areas
  • Very small, so it is easy for them to get inside through any hole in an exterior wall or cracks in siding or HVAC systems
  • Don’t require much soil to exist, but they do require a moisture source; fire ants can end up in places such as rooftops and wall voids
Seeing ants in your home? Let us take care of it.

Ghost ant

(Tapinoma melanocephalum)

Ghost Ant

Appearance

  • Length: about 1/16”
  • Color: Pale/translucent legs and abdomen with a dark brown head and thorax
Life cycle and habits of the ghost ant

Life Cycle

  • Continuous breeding colonies.

Habits

  • Feed on sweet substances and grease
  • Nesting indoors: small spaces, wall voids; outdoors: in flowerpots, under objects on the ground, under loose bark
  • Attracted to high moisture areas; can be found in kitchen and bathroom cabinets
  • Cannot sting

Odorous house ant

(Tapinoma sessile)

odorous-house-ant-image

Appearance

  • Length: 1/16" - 1/8"
  • Color: Brown or black
Life cycle and habits of the odorous house ant

Lifecycle

  • Time to adult phase of development is 34-38 days
  • Typically live for several years
  • Live in large colonies with one or even two queens

Habits

  • Eat most household foods, especially sugary food like sweets and fruit, and will also eat pet food
  • Attracted to moisture; in hot, dry environments nests can be found in house plants and even lids of toilets
  • Produce a coconut smell when crushed
  • Colonies range in size from 100-10,000
  • Do not typically bite
Seeing ants in your home? Let us take care of it.

Pavement ant

(Tetramorium caespitum)

Pavement Ant

Appearance

  • Length: 1/8"
  • Color: Dark brown or blackish
Life cycle and habits of the pavement ant

Life Cycle

  • Visible spring and summer.
  • Have been known to emerge any time of the year in heated structures.

Habits

  • Eat almost anything that humans eat, and also pet food
  • Seen entering houses looking for food, most often at night; may move through pipes and electrical wires
  • Nest in lawns or under stones, wood, or boards; build mounds along sidewalks, baseboards, and near foundations in clusters
  • Colonies found near water

Pharaoh ant

(Monomorium pharaonis)

Pharoahs Ant Monomorium pharaonis

Appearance

  • Length: 1/16”
  • Color: Pale yellowish or reddish body with dark abdomen
Life cycle and habits of the Pharaoh ant

Life Cycle

  • Each queen produces up to 3,500 eggs in its lifetime
  • Multi-queen colonies
  • Swarming can take place at any time of the year
  • Winged adults seldom fly so rarely seen; wings are soon lost after mating

Habits

  • Leave behind well–defined trails, often near 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)
  • Nest in cavities in heated buildings with access to food and water
  • Colonies can range from a few dozen to 300,000

Dealing with ant infestations?

DIY ant control solutions are everywhere, but that doesn’t mean they’re effective. Each ant colony can hold up to half a million ants, and without the help of a professional, they can be tough to tackle. The best thing you can do on your own is to keep things clean. Garbage and food remains are very attractive to ants.

Ehrlich specialists have the expertise to understand the habits of each ant species and will provide your best defense against ant infestations. You can rest assured knowing that our highly qualified technicians will offer a tailored ant treatment plan that is safe for your family and pets.


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