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Ants

Acrobat Ants

acrobat ant
Color: Light brown to black, sometimes multicolored
Shape: Long, segmented; heart-shaped abdomen
Size: 1/16-1/8 inch long
Region: All
Habits

Acrobat ants typically feed on honeydew, a sugary waste excreted by aphids and mealybugs, but they also eat live and dead insects including termite swarmers. When disturbed, these ants commonly raise their abdomen above their thorax and head, like an acrobat.

Threats

Acrobat ants may bite when threatened. In some species, workers may emit an unpleasant odor when disturbed. These ants can also pose a risk to properties. Occasionally, acrobat ants will strip the insulation from electrical or telephone wires, which can cause short circuits.

Prevention

To prevent acrobat ants, make sure that your property and home are void of things that may attract them to it, and that your home is being properly maintained. Seal cracks to prevent ants from entering your home. Store food properly in airtight containers, and don’t leave food on counters. Eliminate sources of standing water outside and keep tree branches and shrubbery well-trimmed and away from the house.

Argentine Ants

argentine ant
Color: Light to dark brown and shiny
Shape: Segmented; oval
Size: 1/16 - 1/4 inch long
Region: Found mostly in the southern U.S., California, and Hawaii
Habits

Usually found in wet environments near a food source, Argentine ants prefer eating sweets such as honeydew but will eat almost anything including meats, eggs, oils and fats. When seeking shelter indoors they are often found near water pipes, sinks or potted plants. These colonies can grow to huge sizes, growing to cover several miles.

Threats

These ants pose no health threat, but they should be avoided as they can contaminate food.

Prevention

Seal any cracks or openings around the exterior of your house. Eliminate any standing water on your property. Do not store firewood and building materials next to you home. Argentine ants like to build nests in moist wood. Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house.

Carpenter Ants

carpenter ant
Color: Black, red, or a combination
Shape: Segmented; oval
Size: 1/4 - 3/4 inch long
Region: Found throughout the U.S., especially in the North
Habits

Needing a constant water source to survive, carpenter ants typically attack wood that is or has been wet. They typically enter buildings through cracks around doors and windows, holes in a structure meant for wires, or through wet, damaged wood. Carpenter ants get their name because they excavate wood in order to build their nests. Their excavation results in smooth tunnels inside the wood.

Threats

Carpenter ants damage wood though their nest building which, over time, can cause serious structural damage to a property.

Prevention

Eliminate sources of moisture or standing water on your property. Fill any gaps or cracks on the outside of your home with silicone caulk. Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to you home. Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home.

Crazy Ants

crazy ant
Color: Dark brown to black with a gray sheen
Shape: Segmented; extremely long legs and antennae
Size: 1/16 - 1/8 inch long
Region: Found throughout the U.S.
Habits

Crazy ants feed primarily on live and dead insects, seeds, fruits, and honeydew. They enter homes in the autumn of after rainfall because both conditions reduce their supply of honeydew. Inside, these ants nest underneath floors or carpeting, in potted plants and in wall voids. Outdoors, their shallow nests are commonly found in soil under objects or next to foundations. Crazy ants can nest in both dry and moist habitats. Crazy ants get their common name from the workers' habit of running in an erratic, jerky manner when searching for food.

Threats

These ants pose no health threat, but they should be avoided as they can contaminate food.

Prevention

Trim vegetation away from you home. This will help prevent their pathways inside. Clean up spills and crumbs on counter tops and kitchen floors. Seal any cracks or openings around the exterior of your house. Eliminate any standing water on your property. Do not store firewood and building materials next to your home.

Odorous House Ants

odorous house ant
Color: Brown to black
Shape: Segmented; oval
Size: 1/16 - 1/8 inch long
Region: Found throughout the U.S.
Habits

Odorous house ants like to eat sweets, especially honeydew. When inside your home, they are likely to nest near moisture sources, such as in wall voids near hot water pipes, beneath leaky fixtures in bathrooms, under kitchen or bathroom sinks and also in wood damaged by termites. Outside, they are often found in exposed soil or under stacks of firewood, lumber or bricks. The odorous house ant gets its name from the strong, rotten coconut-like smell it gives off when crushed.

Threats

These ants pose no health threat, but they should be avoided as they can contaminate food.

Prevention

Clean up spills and crumbs on counter tops and kitchen floors. Seal any cracks or openings around the exterior of your house. Eliminate any standing water on your property. Do not store firewood and building materials next to you home. Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house.

Pavement Ants

pavement ant
Color: Dark brown to blackish
Shape: Segmented; oval
Size: 1/16 - 1/8 inch long
Region: Found throughout the eastern half of the U.S., California, and Washington
Habits

Pavement ants will eat almost anything, including other insects. Indoors, they are likely to be found in ground-level masonry walls of foundations. They enter building through cracks in the slab and walls. Outside, Pavement ants typically nest under stones, pavement cracks and next to buildings.

Threats

These ants pose no health threat, but they should be avoided as they can contaminate food. In extreme cases, they can cause sidewalks and other like structures to sink due to soil excavation.

Prevention

Clean up spills and crumbs on counter tops and kitchen floors. Seal any cracks or openings around the exterior of your house. Seal cracks and opening around the outside of your house, especially where utility pipes and lines enter. Eliminate any standing water on your property. Do not store firewood and building materials next to you home. Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house.

Pharaoh Ants

pharaoh ant
Color: Body usually pale, varying from yellowish to reddish with abdomen often darker to black
Shape: Monomorphic with segmented body
Size: 1/16 inch
Region: All
Habits

Colonies of Pharaoh ants tend to be large, with workers numbering in the thousands. If disturbed, members of the colony will migrate to new locations to establish several new colonies through a process called budding. Pharaoh ants feed on a variety of food sources including sweets, oils and proteins. They will also eat other dead insects.

They nest in warm, humid areas near food and water sources. Nests are usually located in inaccessible areas such as wall voids, behind baseboards, in furniture and under floors. These ants often use electrical and telephone wires as a highway system to travel through walls and between floorboards.

Threats

Pharaoh ants have been implicated in the spread of more than a dozen disease pathogens including salmonella and Streptococcus pyogenes. They are notorious for being a major nuisance in hospitals where they can enter wounds, enter IV bottles and can sometimes even seek moisture from the mouths of sleeping patients.

Prevention

Seal all possible points of entry to your home. Ensure that food is stored properly in airtight containers, and do not leave food on the counter. Eliminate sources of standing water outside and use a dehumidifier indoors to prevent moisture buildup. Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house. These pests are known to bud off and create additional colonies if not treated correctly to begin with. Keep tree branches and shrubbery well-trimmed and away from the house.

Red Imported Fire Ants

red imported fire ant
Color: Dark reddish-brown
Shape: Segmented; oval
Size: 1/16 - 1/4 inch long
Region: Found in the Southeastern U.S., from Virginia to Texas, as well as California and New Mexico.
Habits

Red imported fire ants typically nest in soil near structural foundations or in landscaping. These ants build large mound nests that are flattened and irregular in shape, and are between two and four square feet in size. While usually nesting outdoors, these ants can gain access to building through HVAC systems and AC units. They also are attracted to nesting in electrical junction boxes and gas and water meters. In some cases, they can short out the electrical boxes.

Threats

Fire ants will bite and sting humans who disturb a nest. The sting of these ants is painful and will often result in a raised welt that becomes a white pustule. Often, a person will be stung by many ants and those with allergies to insects will react more severely. Their stings can be fatal in large numbers.

Prevention

Try to avoid fire ants and the mound nests. Seal all internal and external cracks and crevices to prevent entry into a structure. If you are stung by fire ants, promptly seek medical attention.