Ant Identification & Characteristics

Acrobat Ant Identification

Origin

Several species are native to North America, and they can be found throughout the United States.

Biology

The common name is derived from the habit of the workers in which they arch their abdomen over their thorax when they are agitated. Nests may be found in almost any circumstance. Outdoors they commonly will be within wooden materials such as stumps, hollow trees, or firewood, as well as under yard debris or other materials on the soil. Indoors they may nest in voids in walls or ceilings, in old termite or carpenter ant nests in wood, or within soft materials such as foam insulation, which they hollow out themselves. Moisture will be an added draw for Acrobat ants. Colonies generally are medium sized, with several hundred workers. Foods consist of the wide variety of live or dead insects as well as sweet materials. Honeydew is a preferred food in an outdoor setting, and the ants may even create shields of plant material over the insects that produce the honeydew, protecting them from other predators.

Identification

This is a double-node ant which is capable of stinging. The key identifying characters are with the abdomen. When viewed from above it is distinctly heart-shaped, and the pedicel (the thin waist) attaches to the top of the front of the abdomen. There is a pair of spines on the top of the metathorax, and colors range from light brown to almost black, depending on the species.

Characteristics Important in Control

Control of most ants includes correction of the attractions that drew them to a property, including harborage sites, food sources, and moisture conditions. Trimming back shrubs and tree limbs that touch the structure will reduce the movement of these ants indoors.

Carpenter Ant Identification

Origin

Many species of these ants are native to North America, with several species seemingly the most likely to invade structural wood members.

Biology

The usual habitat of a colony of carpenter ants is within wood, often wood buried or partially buried in the soil. They also commonly establish “satellite” colonies that may be in a structure, maintaining contact between the two colonies with the workers who travel to and from over well-defined trails. Generally there is a single queen in the colony but often supplementary queens as well. Colonies typically are around 15,000 workers when mature, but potentially could be over 100,000 workers. Foods are both carbohydrates and protein, with insects a major part of the diet. These are single-node ants without a stinger, although they are capable of biting. As they expand their colony they eject “frass”, which is wood chips and other debris such as leftover insect parts. This frass is often seen in structures before the ants are, as they are primarily nocturnal in habit. Carpenter ants are also typically polymorphic, with various sizes of workers in the colony.

Identification

Worker ants are easily identified to the genus Camponotus by the single, large node and the evenly rounded profile of the top of the thorax. It has no dips or spines on it, but is an even, curved line from front to back. There is a circular fringe of hairs around the anal opening and the antennae have 12 segments. Colors range from tan to black to reddish to orange to black/red combinations. Workers vary from 6 to 13 mm in length.

Characteristics Important in Control: Reduction of excessive moisture in the structure and removal of unnecessary wood materials outdoors will reduce the attraction of an area.

More Information

Termites vs Carpenter Ants: What is the difference?

Pharaoh Ant Identification

Origin

It is believed to have originated in Africa, but spread to Europe, and from there spread to the United States. It now is found in many parts of the world including the U.S. and Canada, and is a pest in Hawaii. As a tropical species it is most common in the warmer southern states, but inhabits structures in northern areas as well.

Biology

This tiny ant is a huge problem when it inhabits large structures, and potentially poses a health threat when nesting within hospitals, where the workers may be found on patients. Their feeding habits expose them to many filthy environments, and this leads to their potential as physical vectors of pathogenic organisms. They have a strong desire for moisture, and foods high in protein are preferred over sugary materials, although they may feed on almost anything. Colonies can be very large, with several hundred thousand workers and many queens, and splitting of the colony is common in response to repellent chemicals. Workers may forage hundreds of feet from their colony, using trails established by pheromones. Nests may be established in almost any suitable void or large crevice, as well as outdoors in the soil under debris or objects on the soil.

Identification

This double-node ant is one of the smallest ant species we deal with, and its light reddish-orange color makes it difficult to see. The abdomen tends to have some black areas as well. It is easily confused with the Thief Ant, but is easily separated by having a 12-segmented antenna with the final 3 segments enlarged to form a club. On the Thief Ant only the final 2 segments are enlarged. Workers are all the same size, and are less than 1.5 mm long.

Characteristics Important in Control

A very thorough inspection must be done to determine where workers are trailing and where the parent nest is likely to be. Moisture control is extremely important for this ant, and removal of other food sources such as pet foods will enhance control measures.

Odorous House Ant Identification

Origin

Native to North America, and found throughout much of southern Canada, all of the U.S., and into Mexico.

Biology

This is a single node ant that may easily be confused with the Argentine Ant, but when viewed from above the single node of the Odorous house ant is not visible, as it is tucked up against the abdomen. It also is a shinier black color. The name is derived from the strong odor given off when the ants are crushed, said to resemble rotting coconuts. Workers are all the same size and forage in long, distinct trails. Colonies may have up to 10,000 workers in them, and nesting sites may be almost anywhere. Outdoors they make shallow soil nests under any material on the ground, within hollow trees, or in any other cavity available. Indoors they nest in wall voids, under insulation in crawl spaces, or within cavities in the wood. Sweet materials like honeydew or other sugar sources are their preferred foods.

Identification

Workers are only about 3 mm long, and are shiny black to dark brown. They have a single node that is tucked closely against the front of the abdomen, and the top of the thorax has a slight dip in it near its mid-point. There are 12 segments on the antenna and there is no enlarged club. There is no circle of hairs around the anal opening.

Characteristics Important in Control

Control of most ants includes correction of the attractions that drew them to a property, including harborage sites, food sources, and moisture conditions.

If you have an ant problem and would like to have a Craig Thomas Pest Control, in partnership with Orkin Pest Control,representative speak to you, give us a call! Contact us by phone 800-255-6777, email

We at Craig Thomas Pest Control, Inc. are grateful to Univar Profession Products and Services for pest information incorporated into this work.

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