Common Types of Ants: Identifying and Managing Different Species

When you think of ants, you probably imagine small, black bugs. But did you know that there are more than 1,000 ant species alone that are native to North America? It’s true. So the next time you see an ant, you should try to identify it. What type of ant is it?

Ants are interesting creatures. They have been known to carry up to 20 times their own size. Still, we don’t want them in our homes. They’re better off outside.

If you see ants in your home or yard, you should figure out what kind it is. That way, you can learn more about them, why they are around, and what you can do to get rid of them. What kind of ant is in my house? Here are some common types of ants you should be aware of in Tennessee.

Black Garden Ants

When you think of common ants, you’re thinking of black garden ants. These small ants live primarily outdoors in gardens and flower beds. They can also be found in landscaping and under paving stones. 

Black garden ants don’t just stay in gardens. They can make their way indoors, especially if they detect an abundance of sugar. In the summer, you might see ants flying. These are the reproductive ants that mate and form colonies.

Pavement Ants

Another common type of ant you may find in or around your home is the pavement ant. They are brownish-black with pale legs. You can identify one by the two spines at the end of its thorax, Pavement ants are found in all 50 states. 

Pavement ants make nests in cracks in the pavement, hence their name. However, they can also make nests in walls and insulation, as well as under floors. These ants can contaminate food and will eat honeydew, honey, bread, meats, nuts, cheese, insects, and seeds. 

Odorous House Ants

Odorous house ants are named based on the rotten coconut-like smell they give off when crushed. They are brown or black and under ⅛ inch long. They like to eat sweets and are especially fond of honeydew.

Odorous house ants can be found indoors and outdoors. Indoors, these ants like to nest near sources of moisture, such as in wall voids near hot water pipes and in heaters. They may also be found beneath leaky fixtures and inside damaged wood. When they’re outside, odorous ants are often found in soil or under stacks of firewood. While they are not harmful, they can contaminate food.

Fire Ants

Fire ants are reddish ants with a copper head. They can be different sizes but are generally under ⅕ inch long. Unlike other species of ants, fire ants can be harmful to humans. Their stings are painful and can cause burning or itching that lasts up to an hour. You may not even know fire ants are around since their mounds are tiny. You could easily step on them.

Fire ants can get inside the home in search of fatty and sweet substances. They may also seek shelter when the weather gets cold. 

Carpenter Ants 

Carpenter ants can be found in moist wood outdoors. They have black or reddish bodies with bent antennas and hind wings that are shorter than their front wings. While carpenter ants have a painful bite, they cannot sting. 

Carpenter ants don’t actually eat the wood they excavate, since they cannot break down cellulose. Instead, they forage on plant and animal materials, including honeydew and other sweet substances. They also eat the body fluids and proteins of live and dead insects. Carpenter ants are most active at night. Carpenter ants tend to nest in decaying wood outdoors, but can also be found in homes and buildings. They often have multiple nesting sites. 

Grease Ants

Technically known as thief ants, these small insects are often called grease ants due to their attraction to greasy foods. They are among the smallest ants, at under 1/16 inch long. They are smooth and shiny and range in color from yellow to dark brown. 

Indoors, thief ants nest in cracks and crevices of walls and cabinets. They can also be found under floors and behind baseboards. They will travel great distances in search of food. Though they will eat almost anything, thief ants prefer to eat grease, fats, and meats.

Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh ants are yellow to light brown, while the queens may be reddish in color. They are so named likely because of the mistaken idea that they were one of the plagues of ancient Egypt. They are very small, with workers 2 mm long and queens 4 mm long.  

Pharaoh ants are a common household ant that can be found worldwide. They are known as being the most difficult household ants to control. Pharaoh ants are notorious indoor pests due to their small size and large colonies. Their colonies may include many nests. A single colony can have multiple queens, with a population numbering several hundred thousand.

Ghost Ants

Ghost ants are small, under 1.5 mm long. Their head and thorax are dark brown, with their abdomen and legs pale yellowish in color. Their habitat is similar to that of pharaoh ants. They can have multiple queens and many nesting sites housing hundreds of thousands of ants. 

Outside, ghost ants make their nest in the ground. They prefer dead tree branches, but will also nest inside logs and within piles of leaves. Inside, ghost ants typically nest in walls, behind baseboards, and between cabinets. Ghost ants love sweet foods, including honeydew. They also feed on live and dead insects. 

Contact Us Today for Pest Control in Tennessee 

There are many different types of ants that could inhabit your home or yard. What are they and how can you get rid of them?

While it’s possible to eradicate ants on your own, sometimes larger populations need stronger control methods. That’s where Golden Circle Exterminators comes in. We know the stress involved and will work to provide you with quick and effective relief. To schedule a free inspection, give us a call at (731) 668-4887.