Acrobat Ant

Appearance: Distinctive heart-shaped abdomen when viewed from above. 1/8- to 1/4-inch; black, dark brown, or red and black.

Habitat
Like carpenter ants, acrobat ants prefer to nest in moist or rotted wood. Colonies are most often found in tree holes, dead limbs and rotting areas in fences, decks and railings. Indoors, nests may be located where water damage has occurred, in decayed or damp wood or inside insulation wall panels and wall voids. When disturbed, acrobat worker ants run with their abdomens held high over their heads.

Diet
Acrobat ants feed on a wide variety of foods, but the workers are partial to the sweet "honeydew" produced by aphids, scales and mealybugs. Most indoor acrobat ant problems are the result of workers looking for food.

Control
Finding and treating wood where their colonies are located is the key to successful acrobat ant control. In cases where the nest is located far above the ground in a tree inaccessible to direct treatment, limiting the trails that lead to your interior is critical. Seal cracks and crevices in your foundation and walls, repair water leaks, let moist wood dry out, and improve attic and crawl space ventilation.





Argentine Ant

Appearance: Brown to light brown; shiny. About 1/10-inch long.

Habitat
Argentine ant colonies live in moist areas near a food source, often in damp soil next to buildings, along sidewalks or beneath boards. They deposit trails continuously to ensure they do not waste time visiting the same area for food. When outdoor conditions are too wet or dry, Argentine ants invade buildings by trailing along plumbing pipes and shrub branches, utility lines and wires. They are very aggressive and will drive out native species of ants, making argentine ant control difficult.

Diet
Argentine ants are omnivorous; they prefer sweet foods such as the "honeydew" produced by aphids and mealybugs, but will eat almost anything, including meats, eggs, oils and fats.

Control
When argentine ant colonies are eliminated, new colonies may quickly take their place. Argentine ant control is a multi-step process, involving finding and treating existing colonies, sealing possible entries, and applying ant control perimeter treatments.





Big Headed Ant

Appearance: Light brown to dark reddish brown; 1/16- to 1/8-inch long.

Habitat
Big headed ants enter buildings occasionally, preferring to nest in protected soil such as under stones, leaf litter, mulch, patio blocks, slabs and firewood. These ants are also commonly found inside the soil of potted plants, and many big headed ant control problems may be traced to planters. As the name implies, the major workers' heads are very large in proportion to their bodies.

Diet
This species likes to feed on a wide variety of foods including dead insects, plant materials and garbage. The workers are partial to the sweet "honeydew" produced by aphids, scales and mealybugs. Inside, they forage for meats, grease, liver, molasses, peanut butter, pet foods and fruit juices.

Control
Because big headed ants are soil nesters, their colonies are often easy to see due to piles of displaced soil formed as they excavate tunnels in the ground. Most colonies are small and relatively easy to treat with professional products, but treating infestations involving multiple colonies requires specialized ant control expertise.





Carpenter Ant

Appearance: Among the largest of ants, 1/4- to 3/8-inch long. Color varies depending on species, from red to black or a combination. The most common species is black.

Habitat
Carpenter ants get their name because they excavate wood in order to build their nests, leaving hollowed-out tunnels. These colonies require a constant source of water to survive, and are often found in wet, decayed wood such as dead limbs and tree stumps.

Inside, they can be found in wet, poorly ventilated spaces such as crawl spaces or attics. While carpenter ants don't eat wood, their excavations pose a property threat, making ant control imperative. In the spring, winged reproductive ants called swarmers fly out to start new colonies.

Colonies can contain up to 50,000 workers.

Diet
Will feed on nearly anything people eat, particularly sweets and meats. The favorite food of adult carpenter ants is the sweet "honeydew" produced by plant-feeding insects, such as aphids, scales, and mealybugs. Carpenter ants also feed on other insects.

Control
Successful carpenter ant control depends on eliminating the parent colony, which is usually located outdoors. Finding and treating as many nests (satellite colonies) as possible is the key to carpenter ant control.

Store firewood away from your house, trim dead limbs from trees, and remove stumps and lumber from around the house. A frequently overlooked ant control measure is to make sure that all plumbing or roof leaks are sealed.





Odorous House Ant

Appearance: Brown; about 1/8 inch long.

Habitat
Outdoors house ants nest in soil, often under objects such as loose bark, firewood or lumber. Indoors they nest in wall voids, especially around hot-water pipes and heaters, and in crevices around sinks and cupboards. This species gets its name from the strong, rotten coconut-like smell it gives off when crushed. Odorous house ants may develop huge colonies containing up to 100,000 ants with many queens, making professional ant control imperative. They are not aggressive towards other colonies, so multiple nests may be located within one structure.

Diet
Prefer to feed outdoors on organic materials. When indoors, odorous house ants prefer sweets during most of the warm season, especially melon, but will also eat high-protein foods, greasy meats and cheeses.

Control
They key to odorous house ant control is locating the colonies and subcolonies and treating them directly. Colonies can be difficult to locate because they commonly nest in crawl spaces and wall voids. Regular inspections and service are necessary to find and treat new colonies as they move from neighboring properties. Eliminating standing water and removing tree limbs and other debris from your yard should help with odorous house ant control.





Pavement Ant

Appearance: Dark brown to blackish; about 1/8 inch long.

Habitat
Pavement ants get their name because they make their nests in or under cracks in pavement. Colonies are usually easy to find due to the piles of displaced soil next to and on top of pavement. Indoors, pavement ants nest in walls, insulation and under floors. They like to travel under the edges of carpet next to the tack strip.

Diet
Pavement ants are opportunistic feeders that will �swarm�on foods that appear within their foraging range, and are therefore easily controlled with bait. Indoors, they feed on meats, nuts, cheese, honey, bread crumbs, meats, grease and pet bowls.

Control
Individual pavement ant colonies can often be controlled using ant baits, but perimeter inspection and treatment are usually necessary for long-term pavement ant control. Their colonies are controlled by direct treatment of nests in the soil.





Pharaoh Ant

Appearance: Yellow to reddish; very small, 1/16- to 1/8-inch long.

Habitat
Pharaoh ants nest almost anywhere that provides protection. They are extremely opportunistic and have been found nesting in walls, furniture, appliances, between folded sheets, hollow curtain rods, inside irons and under roofing shingles. They have a high daily water requirement and prefer warm, humid areas close to food and water. Workers range widely from the nest and establish visible trails to food and water sources. They travel from room to room via hidden plumbing pipes and electrical wires.

Diet
Food of all types, but especially sweets. Will also eat other insects.

Control
Pharaoh ant control can be very difficult. Using contact insecticides will cause them to fracture or split into two or more colonies to survive. Baiting forging trails and suspected areas of activity is the most effective pharaoh ant control method. Do not spray or disturb ants or bait stations, and avoid using cleaners around bait placements as this can destroy the integrity of pheromone trails. Pharaoh ants can be especially problematic in nursing homes and hospitals. You must seek professional assistance when dealing with Pharaoh ant infestations.





Thief Ant


Appearance: Golden-yellow; one of the smallest ants, 1/16- to 1/8-inch long

Habitat
Thief ants derive their name from their habit of establishing colonies close to other ants to steal their food, and even capture and eat other ants' eggs and larvae. They nest outdoors in soil, trash and rotten wood and tree cavities, and indoors in small crevices, woodwork and masonry. Finding the nests is extremely difficult, so thief ant control is best handled by professionals. Thief ants commonly enter structures during hot, dry weather.

Diet
Thief ants prefer high-protein foods, but will feed on sweets. They eat almost any organic matter, including insects, honeydew, seeds, meats, fruit, bread crumbs, oils, nuts, pet foods and dairy products.

Control
Thief ant control can be difficult. They are often mistaken for the slightly larger pharaoh ants; unfortunately, the bait used for pharaoh ant control may not be effective for thief ants. The first step is to locate their nests, by following the trial of foraging workers back from their food source. An experienced ant control professional can tell you which different baits are likely to achieve best results.