Ants are found in a wide range of habitats throughout the globe. Over 12,000 different species of ants have been distinguished to date. But thank God, despite their increasing numbers, only a tiny portion of these types of ants have been reported as a home-invading nuisance that eats wood deteriorating foundation walls. 

Ant with heavy load
Ant with heavy load | Image Credit – James Wainscoat

Ants are almost at the number one spot when it concerns troublesome pests. With over 1,000 kinds of ants in the United States, most individuals will have to battle ants in their house or backyard at some point in their life. 

Most of us don’t mind sharing our living space with a few friendly tiny ants. Regretfully, most people have no understanding that these critters can cause severe health and property loss, ranging from food poisoning to expensive vandalism. 

Do you harbor an ant invasion outburst in your house or lawn? It can be challenging to tell what kind of crazy ant you are dealing with and depending on the species, intervention may differ.

Table of Contents

Identifying household ants

In the absence of the right tools and knowledge, identifying ants can be problematic. Despite this, several of the most common species of domestic ants can be identified without the use of extensive tools. And once you identify different types on your property, you can figure out where they are most likely to swarm or locate the nest, what sort of devastation they create, and what preventive actions (pest control) will work best.

Physical attributes

Fire ant on grass
Fire ant on grass | Image Credit – Michael Willinger

Most invertebrates, including ants, have three body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. The thorax is where the limbs and wings are connected. The thorax and abdomen of an ant are connected by one or two nodes, which comprise a pedicel. 

This pedicel is among the essential characteristics used to distinguish between ant species. When you see flying ants within your house, it typically indicates you have an interior colony, which can be alarming because flying ants are sometimes confused for flying termites. 

Here are several characteristics that you can utilize to tell the two apart.

  • Ants have a restricted or squeezed waistline, whereas termites do not.
  • Ants have a wider forewing than hindwing, but termites have quadruple equally sized wings.
  • Ants’ antennas are curved or elbowed, whereas termites’ antennas are upright. 

Ant behavior

Ants are frequently distinguished by actions that are exclusive to their genus. Please note how quickly they move, how they create pathways to the nesting, how they transport supplies, and how they hold themselves when agitated. Take some time to look at the stuff they are bringing. Spending some time monitoring the ant’s activity could reveal the ant’s identity. These insects prefer to lessen their activities in colder weather so you need to act by late summer.

Ant nests

Ants can build homes that are visible or that are concealed. Soil habitats can take on the form of their secret hideout under a stone, nests in soil and perhaps other structures, or they might take on the design of their concealing site. 

You should frequently examine the design or layout of an ant home in the ground and the frequency and positioning of entrance openings. Many ants build their nests in treetops, either creating their tunnels or taking advantage of the current ones. Carpenter and acrobat ants, for example, might need your residence as a replacement for their usual resting spot in a tree or bush.

Worker size

Major workers or minor workers, depending on working capacity of species, size divides ants into three categories: little (less than 1/16 inch), moderate (1/16 to 3/8 inch), and huge (more than 3/8 inch). Aside from range in size, if the worker ants in a swarm are all of the same proportion (monomorphic) or come in different sizes (variable) is an essential trait that can classify distinct ant species.

Different types of common household ants

Here’s a quick lead to help you understand and differentiate the various ants found in your household. Meet your rival!

Argentine Ants

Ants on leaves
Ants on leaves | Image Credit – Jimmy Chan

Argentine ants, generally known as sugar ants, are among the most prevalent ant species discovered in southern United States residences. They are minuscule, measuring as little as 1/8 of an inch in length and ranging in hue from gleaming brown to black. 

They enjoy sugary things but will devour just about everything. Argentine ants may readily fit past minute cracks and crevices to establish colonies in the soil, brick blocks, planks, and boards, even among your residence items. They are frequently seen in increasing quantities during arid or humid weather or torrential downpours.

Since Argentine ants have a following propensity, live in huge numbers, and travel swiftly, they can rapidly result in an infestation that is difficult to control. Spray insecticides can exacerbate the situation by stimulating egg-laying by the colony’s queens. 

Instead, meticulously search your property for ant access openings and use tasty baits that the ants will consume and return to their colony. This procedure may take some time to eradicate the settlement, but it will ensure that you address the issue at its origin.

Asian needle ants

Asian Needle Ant
Asian needle ant | Image credit –

Asian needle ants possess one node, approximately 5 millimeters in length. They are dark-colored with dark orange fangs and prefer to settle permanently in damp, outdoor shaded locations. This ant species is less combative towards adjacent ant colonies than other insect species. 

However, it will undoubtedly sting you if it contacts human skin or becomes entangled in clothing. It is most common throughout the wet season, from July to August. Its bite is excruciating and can even induce a blister.

Because it builds its home underneath wild and artificial structures, it stands to reason that restricting extensive facilities around the location will diminish the ant’s existence. And during the buzzing period, it is typical for it to penetrate buildings and other structures. Fitted shields on openings will decrease the chances of entering from their external homes. Since Asian needle ants do not construct hunting trails, luring for eradication may be ineffective.

Odorous House Ants 

Odorous House Ants
Odorous House Ants | Image Credit – Wolfgang Hasselmann

If squashed, odorous house ants emit a foul aroma comparable to spoiled coconuts, and they build nests all across residences. They are brown and roughly an eighth of an inch or more petite in size. Whenever there is a sufficient waterway, odorous house ants can be found in huge numbers and are among the most challenging insects to eradicate once an invasion has developed.

Effective treatments for odorous house ants differ but typically involve particulate lures around your property’s periphery, gelatin baits within and without sites, and boundary sprays with non-repellent chemicals.

Fire Ants

Fire Ants
Fire Ants | Image Credit – Thang Cao

Due to their dark red and brown appearance and conspicuous dust heaps, fire ants are the clearest ants to distinguish. Whenever they strike, they are the most ferocious ant species, causing agonizing stings. Fire ants construct colonies in open spaces such as lawns, pastures, and roadway ditches. 

Fire ants are a critical challenge for residents for various reasons: they can bite dogs and younger kids and develop unattractive, harmful heaps on the property. They can also trigger severe allergy symptoms in sensitive individuals. Particulate baits are effective against fire ants and can sometimes wipe out entire populations in as little as 72 hours.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants
Carpenter Ants | Image Credit – Petr Ganaj

Carpenter ants, which come in various kinds, are the most common household ant variety. They are black and heavier than sugar ants and odorous house ants, measuring 1/4 to 1 inch in length. They are also distinct from several other ants in that they inflict damage to structures. 

These commonly yellow ant prefers to build their nests in the timber that your house is made of, probably close to a supply of moisture decaying wood. Because they are excessively active at night, you will often see them in the evenings or at midnight during the warmer months, when they escape their habitat in search of food. 

To prevent carpenter ant, remove all supply of energy and dampness and repair damages to any parts of your property that have indications of water leaks. Granular baits positioned across the periphery of the residence and within the surroundings and gel baits implemented along recognized pathways and boundary treatments with non-repellent ingredients function properly to eradicate carpenter ants completely.

Little Black Ants 

Little Black Ants 
Little Black Ants | Image Credit – Shannon Potter

Little black ants are a natural variety of the United States that range from brownish to jet black. These ants typically have two or more queens in each swarm and make homes in grasses or fissures and crannies around the house. They are attracted to candies, seeds, proteins, and even heavy items while within the household.

Limonene is an excellent alternative for getting rid of black ant infestations in the house because it is harmless to use nearby feed ingredients. Citrus oils derived from various fruit peels, especially oranges, are the active elements in limonene, which kills ants and other pests on contact.

To Conclude

After you have exterminated the ants on your property, seal any breaches you detect and repair any burst pipes that might be supplying the ants with moisture. You could further get rid of ants, the invaders, by making them believe that your residence is not the ideal environment for them by clearing up leftovers and food debris regularly.

If the infestation is huge like corroding your university extension line and you want dead insect as quickly as possible, consider using aerosol spray.

(Last Updated on June 20, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on a variety of topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. She likes traveling and spending time with nature. She is a very people-person who loves talking about climate change and alerting people to go green!