What kind of ants do I have? – Ant identification is important if you have an ant infestation. First of all, how do we know what kind of ants they could be? There are a number of ant species in the United States, but we will only focus on the most common ones in the South, particularly in Tennessee. The ants most commonly found in Tennessee are the odorous house ant, the Argentine ant, the crazy ant, the little black ant, the pharaoh ant, the fire ant, and the carpenter ant.
Identification of ants and termites may be confusing. Ants look different from termites. Ant workers are usually dark-colored and have a pinched waist on their body while termite workers are white in color and do not have a waist. Additionally, they also have a bent antennae and termites have straight antennae. Most ants will normally be out in the open foraging for food while termites will be hidden in wood and mud tubes.
A pest ant is one that may enter your home to feed, cause wood damage, or cause you harm. Ants may be in our homes looking for food or just a nice warm place to live. Consequently, that could become a problem if they are attracted to your home for any reason. So, how can we tell which species we are dealing with?
The Odorous House Ant
The odorous house ant is about 1/16 – ⅛ inch long and the body is brown to black. It will normally nest outside but will move indoors to feed. If you crush this ant it will have an odor like rotten coconut or blue cheese. Hence, the name “odorous” ant.
The Argentine Ant
The Argentine ant looks like the odorous house ant but somewhat smaller. This ant will have colony nests indoors and outside the home and can create very large colonies. If crushed, the argentine ant can have a musty odor.
The Crazy Ant
The crazy ant isn’t really crazy; it just runs around in an erratic way as it forages for food. Most other ants follow each other in a line. The body is 1/16-1/8 inch in length and is dark brown to black with a silvery sheen with legs and antennae that are long in comparison to the body.
The Little Black Ant
Little black ants are extremely small (about 1/16 inch in length) and black in color. These ants may be called sugar ants by homeowners but will feed on grease, meats, fruits, cornmeal, and sweets.
The Pharaoh Ant
Pharaoh ants are also very small and yellowish-reddish in color. These ants can be a major problem in homes, apartment buildings, and medical facilities. Professional pest control companies must use insect baits to control these ants and not apply pesticides. If a chemical pesticide or strong cleaning agent is used they will split their nest and move to other areas making the infestation worse. This behavior is called “budding”.
The Fire Ant
Fire ants have become a major concern in most of the southern states. When an ant colony is created, soil mounds of the earth will be piled up in the yard. This is a good indication of a fire ant infestation. These ants can be dangerous because of their painful sting. Due to their nature, if the mound is disturbed, hundreds of ants will emerge to sting the intruder to protect the colony.
The Carpenter Ant
Carpenter ants are some of the largest ants we will see around the house. The workers are different sizes up to ½-inch in length. They can come in different colors ranging from black, red, or a combination of black and red. Carpenter ants do not use wood for food. Instead, they remove the wood to create hollowed-out voids to house their nests.
Ant Control in Tennessee
It is usually best to have a professional pest control company inspect your ant infestation because they can determine the best control measure for the species of ant you are dealing with. They may use baits designed to attract and kill that particular ant species, outside perimeter treatments, or other control products. Contact U.S. Pest Protection today for a free pest inspection!