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Ants Specifics

Some brief descriptions of various types of ants that are commonly found worldwide.

Here are some information and tips on ant control that increases the success of killing ants

Types of Ants

Fire Ants

Anyone who has been bitten by a fire ant can tell you that these well-known agricultural pests can quickly become a human health hazard. Once fire ants clamp onto your skin with their powerful jaws, they inject a dose of venom that causes a burning sensation. These stings can cause blisters and infections, and can even cause anaphylactic shock or death in the most sensitive victims. It is also not uncommon for colonies of fire ants to attack and sometimes kill domestic animals and pets, as well as livestock and wildlife. And that's just the threat these tiny little insects pose to humans and animals.

Fire ants are reddish to black in color and are about 1/8 inch long. Their characteristics are as follows:

  • Mounds of loose soil, resembling gopher diggings, are found above ground.
  • Mounds are generally numerous and easily sighted.
  • Worker ants are dark, small, highly variable in size, aggressive, and sting relentlessly.
  • Workers have the same body proportions from the tiniest to the largest.
  • Head width never exceeds the abdomen width including the largest workers.

Fire ants mound - can reach up 2 feet.


Argentina Ants

The tiny dark-brown and black ants, which are about two millimeters in length, are thought to have entered the United States aboard ships carrying coffee or sugar from Argentina during the 1890s, then expanded throughout California and the southern parts of the United States. In the Southeast and much of the South, their proliferation is limited to some extent by the introduction of fire ants.

They have been reported to crawl onto people and bite them while they are asleep. Reports from the early 1900's describe babies being attacked in their cribs.

A single colony of Argentine ants can contain thousands of workers and many queens. The queens in an Argentine ant colony live about 1 year. A typical colony consists of about 90% workers and 10% Queens.


Carpenter Ants



Carpenter ants are found throughout the United States. The black carpenter ant is common in the east, the western carpenter ant in the west. Carpenter ants hollow out spaces in wood to use as nests. Most species nest first in decayed wood and then enlarge the nest into sound wood. Indoors: nests are in wood (perhaps softened by fungus rot), insulation, wall voids. Outdoors: nests are in old firewood, rotting fence posts, stumps, dead portions of living trees, under stones and logs. A colony has a main nest connected to satellite nests by a cleared trail about 1/4 inch wide.


This is a picture of the Black Carpenter Ant. (carpenter ants can vary in color and in size 1/8" - 1/2" for an average worker)


  • Look for piles of sawdust-like shavings, sometimes with bits of insulation and insect parts.
  • Listen for rustling sounds from within the walls. (A listening device is useful.)
  • Watch for foraging trails outside, especially between 10 am and 2 pm.
  • Be alert to the emergence of swarmers.
  • With a tool gently tap exposed wood and rafters, listening for a hollow sound which might indicate a nest cavity. A knife blade will easily sink into the wood if a nest is present.
  • Check attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Check wires and pipes. Locate high moisture areas. (A moisture meter can be useful.)


Pharaoh Ants


These light brown ants are about 1/8 inch long or less. These small ants rarely produce swarmers or winged forms. They establish small to large nests indoors, and are common throughout the year. Colonies may consist of a few hundred to thousands of workers and queens. They are often located in many sites throughout the infested structure. These ants will feed on a variety of foods, but seem to prefer meat and grease, and forage during the day and night.

Treatment with liquid insecticides actually makes the infestation worse by causing the ants to "bud" or "split" into several smaller satellite colonies.




Pavement Ants


Probably one of the most common ants. (workers average size 1/16" - 1/8" long) This ant gets its name from commonly locating its nest in or under cracks in the pavement. (Occasionally they will nest in walls, insulation and under floors.)
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