How to Identify Ants
Though ants are familiar insects, in the home, they are somtimes confused with termites. If you look closely, you can tell an ant by its slim middle and curved antennae. Termites have thick middles and upright antennae.
The body of an ant is divided into three sections: its head, thorax, and abdomen. An ant’s middle may have one or two segments, or nodes. This feature divides ants into the aptly named groups of one-node and two-node ants.
Wingless adult ants are the colony’s workers. These females are in charge of gathering food, feeding larvae, sustaining the nest, and protecting the colony. The colony queen’s only job is to lay eggs. Male ants have wings and mate with the queen.
Common Ant Species
Carpenter ants are large (in ant size) and can be anywhere from ¼-inch to ⅝-inch long. They are dark brown or black, but some have red or yellow coloring.
When carpenter ants build their nests, usually in damp or decaying wood, they dig out tunnels which weakens the wood from the inside. You’ll know you have these pests by the appearance of small holes on the surface of wood and by the debris they produce from tunneling.
Odorous House Ants
Odorous house ants are only about ⅛-inch long and have beehive-shaped abdomens. They are dark brown or black.
When threatened or crushed, odorous house ants give off a smell of rotten coconut, hence their name. While these ants do not pose a public health risk, they can contaminate food.
Fire ants are ⅛-inch to ¼-inch long. They are dark reddish-brown.
Fire ants are aggressive when bothered and inflict painful bites and stings.
Little Black Ants
Little black ants are 1/16-inch long with two-segmented abdomens. They can be dark brown to black, but usually very dark black. These ants are shiny.
While little black ants don’t pose a public health risk, they can contaminate food.