ant species

How to Distinguish the Ant Species Found in Your Home or Yard

One of the few things no one ever tells you about buying a home is the pests!

While owning a home is a rewarding milestone, dealing with an ant infestation can be challenging and overwhelming left uncontrolled.

There are over 1,000 ant species in the U.S and can be found almost everywhere. They may look alike, but each species vary in appearance and behavior. Knowing which ants are invading your home is the first step in eliminating the problem.

How do you identify the different ant species?

Read this guide on how to identify each ant you see trespassing into your home.

Ant Characteristics

Before learning about the different types of ants, you should acquaint yourself with crucial characteristics to look for. Observing their current location will help with this.


Ants have three separate body regions: The head, the thorax/midsection, and the gaster/lower abdomen. Common ants have a set of antennae and, depending on the duties of the ant, are wingless. But don’t be surprised if you see some that fly. They could be reproductive ants!

You should also take note of their color as well as their size. Worker ants are all uniform in size and look small in comparison to the queen of the colony.

Nest Patterns

All species of ants live in colonies and are often seen hunting for food to take back to their nests. If possible, follow the ants to their nests and note the time of day they are active. It is important to note the ant trail they walk in as they vary based on the type.

Behavior and Special Characteristics

The most obvious way to note distinction is the behavior of their species. Posture, how fast they run, and carrying food are vital indicators of what you’re dealing with. Some ants choose trails high off the ground because they are tree dwellers, and some may give off an odor if you squish them.

Common Home Ant Species

Argentine Ants

This ant may be small in size, but the overall colony is massive. You can find the Argentine ant predominantly in urban areas of the southern parts of the U.S. They build their nests’ underwood, debris, and the bases of trees and shrubs.

However, that may not be their only nest because they’re known for building multiples, sometimes ending with colonies so big they have hundreds of queens. Their aggressive trait is cause for concern when they hide in your home during wet and dry weather. They are light to dark brown around its abdomen.

Acrobat Ants

These medium-sized ants are often mixed up with carpenter ants because of similar color and nesting habits. If you look closely, however, Acrobat ants are pretty different from Carpenters.

Acrobat worker ants are all the same size. Unlike carpenter ants, they are primarily awake and active during the day. If they are bothered, Acrobat ants will lift their distinct heart-shaped abdomens in the air in defense, much as a circus acrobat might balance on their hands.

Acrobat ants nest in trees but will find their way in the walls and insulation.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are the largest ant species you will see in your home. Their workers vary in size. They are not hard to spot with their black, brown, or black and red-orange combo.

Carpenter ants are night sleepers and come out at night to trail fences, trees, hoses, and other objects. They stay in tree trunks, but you can also find them making their homes inside hollow doors and building walls. They can not sting but will bite if necessary.

Fire Ants

Fire ants are considered an invasive species from South America. Located mainly in the Southern regions, this crimson-colored ant delivers a painful bite that can cause allergic reactions.

When threatened by flooding, Fire ants clump together to form a raft to save their queen. It is not something you want to bump into by mistake. Fire ants prefer the outdoors and are common in the yards of homes, but they may occasionally enter your home in search of food and water.

Odorous House Ants

Odorous House ants are familiar ant species that make their nests outside under mulch, rocks, and other natural minerals. They are medium in size and are smooth with little to no hairs.

They get their name from the distinct coconut smell they produce when crushed. Odorous House ants are attracted to sweet scents, and they find their way into your home voids and other interior crevices.

Pavement Ants

Very common in homes, Pavement ants are tiny and can color vary from brown to black coloring, with lighter legs and antennae. They are named building their mounds in pavement cracks. Pavement ants don’t stay outdoors; these pests will invite themselves into indoor spaces when searching for food.

This leads them to relocate underneath the floors and wall cracks. What makes Pavement ants more of a headache is that, in addition to invading your pantry and cabinets in search of food, they also may bite if threatened.

Pharaoh Ants

The tiny Pharoah ants frequently nest and prefer to live indoors. They are yellowish with a dark-tipped lower abdomen which is uniform for all worker ants.

They make their nests in any dark and narrow spacing and can be found in boxes, electrical panels, voids, etc. Pharaoh ants won’t eat just anything. They will feed on sugary and protein-filled foods.

Thief Ants

The Thief ant is so small it can sneak into your home undetected to feed on greasy food crumbs. They’re famous for setting up shop near other nests to steal their eggs and larvae. They’re often mistaken for Pharaoh ants because of their size and yellowish-tan coloring.

How Do I Get Rid of Ants?

Defending your home against ants can vary depending on the ant species, as not every species can be eliminated using one method. Troubles can arise when choosing the right store-bought pest removers. Most of their ingredients are unsafe chemicals that can affect you, your family, pets and even harm your environment.

The best way to way to rid yourself of ants is by calling a trained professional. They’ll be able to identify and exterminate any colonies without you having to risk your safety.

Eliminate Ants for Good

All ant species are pesky bugs that can crawl into the smallest openings. Once you find one, the others are not far behind, and killing the scouter won’t eliminate the trail is created. Save yourself the frustration and headache by hiring professionals at Pointe Pest.

Pointe Pest Control practices Integrated Pest Management, a safe, eco-friendly system designed to eliminate pests without the worry of property damage and the health of your pets and family. With proven long-lasting effects, their green approach saves you time and money.

Get back to an ant-free home.

For a list of our services and pest treatments, visit our pest information tab.

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