How to Identify Ants

  • 01 of 10

    What Is That Ant?

    Ants
    Photo courtesy of USDA ARS/Stephen Ausmus

    Ugh! Once again you are seeing ants in your house! Trailing a path from the door through the dining room into the kitchen. What IS that ant, and how can you get rid of it?

    Follow this article, step by step, to see pictures of the 9 most common ants, then link to pages describing their control and elimination.

    Continue to 2 of 10 below.
  • 02 of 10

    How to identify the Pavement Ant

    Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org
    • The pavement ant is 1/10 - 1/6 of an inch long
    • It is brownish black with pale-colored legs
    • With a magnifying glass or microscope, it can be seen that this ant has two spines at the end of its thorax (between its body parts) and stiff hairs covering its body.
    • One of the most common ants in the U.S., the pavement ant is found in all 50 states. 

     

    More information on the Pavement Ant

    Continue to 3 of 10 below.
  • 03 of 10

    How to identify Carpenter Ants

    Richard Bartz, Munich Makro Freak
    • Workers range from 1/4 to 5/8 inch in length and are the most commonly seen.
    • Carpenter ant species vary in color, but are generally reddish orange to black.
    • Males are about the same size as the workers, but are generally only seen when they fly from the nest to mate with the queen - their only purpose in life.
    • The queen is the largest of the species, and may be two or three times larger than the workers.

     

    More information on the Carpenter Ant

     

    Continue to 4 of 10 below.
  • 04 of 10

    How to identify Odorous House Ants

    odorous-house-ant-by-Joseph-Berger-Bugwood.org.jpg
    by Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org
    • 1/8 inch long, this dark brown or black ant
    • It is particularly attracted to sweets, such as fruit juices and pastries, but it will eat a variety of foods. 
    • The odorous house ant is commonly found trailing through kitchens of homes across the U.S. Because it makes only shallow nests, it is most likely to enter homes after heavy rains.
    • These ants usually travel in lines, and they move fast. If they are disturbed or alarmed they will quickly break ranks and run around erratically – releasing their...MORE odor as they run.

     

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    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    How to identify Red Imported Fire Ants

    Fire Ants. Photo courtesy of USDA ARS/Stephen Ausmus
    • These fire ants are very small and reddish brown to black in color.
    • The ants of a single colony can vary in size from 1/16 inch to 1/4 inch long.
    • Fire ants are very aggressive, attacking anytime their mound is disturbed.
    • With magnification, it can also be seen that these ants have 10-segmented antennae with 2-segmented club and a stinger.

     

    More information on the Red Imported Fire Ant

    Continue to 6 of 10 below.
  • 06 of 10

    How to identify Thief Ants/Grease Ants

    photo by April Nobile, www.antweb.org;
    • The thief ant, also called a grease ant, is 1/32 - 1/16 inch.
    • It has very small eyes in relation to size of head.
    • Its body is yellow, bronze, light or dark brown and is very smooth and shiny.
    • Thief ants are omnivorous - eating just about anything, but they prefer grease and high protein foods.

     

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    Continue to 7 of 10 below.
  • 07 of 10

    How to identify Pharaoh Ants

    Pharaoh-Ant
    by Janke at en.wikipedia
    •  The pharaoh ant is 1/12 to 1/16 inch long
    • It is golden yellow to reddish-brown, and has three clubs on its antennae
    • This ant gets its nickname, "sugar ant" from the fact that it feeds on sweets, such as jellies, honey, cakes and sugar, as well as breads and greasy, fatty foods.
    • It is found throughout the U.S., and will nest within structures, particularly in the north where they cannot survive the cold winters outdoors.

     

    More information on the Pharaoh Ant

    Continue to 8 of 10 below.
  • 08 of 10

    How to identify Ghost Ants

    ghost-ant-by-Forest-and-Kim-Starr-bugwood.org.jpg
    by Forest and Kim Starr, bugwood.org
    •  The ghost ant is very small – less than 1/16 inch in length.
    • It is named “Ghost” for the pale, almost translucent coloring of its body and legs. But its head is dark in color.
    • Chiefly an outdoor ant, it is found primarily in Florida and Hawaii, with some found living indoors in areas of Texas, Iowa, and Oregon.

     

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    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    How to identify Argentine Ants

    Zen Shui/Odlon Dimier, PhotoAlto Agency, Courtesy of Getty Images
    •  Argentine ant workers are generally about 1/8 inch long; the queens may be 1/6 to1/4 inches in length.
    • Bodies vary in color from light to a dark brown.
    • Argentine ants are dormant during cold winter months, often joining multiple colonies together for overwintering.
    • Found throughout many of the southern states, as well as parts of Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, they prefer urban settings, nesting in damp areas.

     

    More information on the Argentine Ant

    Continue to 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10

    How to identify Field Ants

    field-ants-by-Norbert-Nagel-wikipedia.jpg
    by Norbert Nagel, wikipedia
    • Field ants may as small as 1/5 inch or as large as 3/8 inch in size.
    • They may be red, brown, black, tan, or even two-colored.
    • When large, field ants are often confused with carpenter ants.
    • They feed primarily on honeydew from aphids, mealy bugs, and other plant pests; some may invade homes to forage for food, but this is rare.

     

    More information on the Field Ant