If you have ever lived in Texas you most likely have seen a great variety of ants outside and even inside your home at times.
Ants can be found all over the state and there are many different types. Some can be beneficial to the environment while others can be downright harmful, so it’s important to learn their distinctions
Carpenter ants are usually black or red, but can be a combination of both. Carpenter ants have 3 body segments with a large head and abdomen. Carpenter ants vary in size from 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch long. Carpenter ants antennae are bent with 12 segments. Winged carpenter ants are sometimes mistakenly identified as termite swarmers. Winged carpenter ants will have wings of differing lengths while termites have 2 sets of equal length wings. These winged carpenter ants are typically seen in early spring often after rain when the sun comes back out.
Are Carpenter Ants Dangerous?
Carpenter ants are not poisonous and they don’t typically bite people unless bothered or threatened. If you do startle one into biting you, it won’t hurt much more than a pinch. Carpenter ants will, however, be happy to chew through your home, deck, garage, or any other wooden structure. If left untreated, the damage done by carpenter ants excavating a structure to create nesting galleries can be quite extensive.
Carpenter Ant Habitat
Carpenter ants can be found in moist, decaying or rotted out wood. This could be outside or inside a structure. While they are mostly found in wooded or forest environments, they will happily use your home or any other wooden structure that may have a moisture problem. Areas of particular to watch on your home would be eaves, decks and under windows. Carpenter ants will sometimes have a central colony surrounded by satellite colonies.
Acrobat ants are one of the most common ant species in Texas. These ants get their name from their ability to raise their abdomens over their heads, a behavior that is used to ward off predators or potential threats. Acrobat ants range in color; they can be yellowish, brown, black or even multi-colored. Their distinctive heart-shaped abdomen may be darker in color than the rest of their body. Another small ant, adult acrobat ants may reach 1/8th of an inch in length.
Are Acrobat Ants Dangerous?
Acrobat ants do have a stinger, they rarely use it and the pain is usually short-lived. Despite their ability to sting, acrobat ants are not considered dangerous to people, pets or structures. These ants become a nuisance when they nest and forage inside.
Acrobat Ants Habitat
Acrobat ants typically live outdoors in nests within dead or decaying wood; however, the pests may invade homes through foundation cracks or gaps around wiring and pipes. Also, tree branches that grow close to or in contact with the house provide an entryway for the ants to enter the home. Acrobat ants also have the ability to strip insulation from electrical wiring in your home so if they are found nesting in the home steps should be taken to control them.
Pharaoh ants are light reddish-orange in color with black areas on their abdomens. Pharaoh ants have a 3 segmented club antenna, while their bodies are divided into 3 defined parts: the head, thorax and the abdomen. Pharaoh worker ants are approximately 1/16 inch long but the pharaoh ant queen is much larger.
Are Pharaoh Ants Dangerous?
While pharaoh ants don’t sting, they can bite. Pharaoh ant bites are not poisonous, but they do carry and transmit pathogens like Streptococcus and Salmonella. Pharaoh ants can be particularly dangerous in health care facilities like hospitals, retirement homes and clinics. Pharaoh ants are known to invade wounds, IV bags, and even get into mouths and eyes of patients. Pharaoh ant colonies are also known to cause extensive damage to wooden structures where they nest.
Pharaoh Ants Habitat
Pharaoh ants will nest outdoors in lawns and gardens in warm climates. They are also known to nest in man-made structures where they are hidden and protected from elements. They are known to take advantage of artificial heating in buildings to survive through winters making them common inside in the colder months.
Odorous House Ants
Workers are 1/16 to 1/8 inch (2.4-3.3 mm) long and monomorphic (all members are about the same size). The body is uniform in color from brown to black, antenna is 12-segmented without a club, thorax is uneven, and pedicel has one hidden node. There is no circle of hairs at the anal pore. A distinctive characteristic of this species is the rotten odor when crushed.
Are Odorous House Ants Dangerous?
Odorous House Ants do not bite or carry diseases or pathogens; however, they do have a love of food (mainly sweets and melons). They can cause a contamination issue as they can get into our food.
Odorous House Ant Habitat
While odorous house ants sometimes nest indoors, they generally prefer nests outside under rocks, flower pots, mulch and around trash cans. They can frequently be found in homes foraging for sugary foods or water. Odorous house ants tend to follow aphids which produce honeydew that these ants love to eat.
First found in Houston in 2002, Crazy ant infestations are now found in all Gulf Coast counties extending west as far as the Hill Country. Individual infestations can be huge, spanning kilometers in diameter. Crazy ants are famous for their fast and erratic running behavior. They also may be distinguished from other ants, like the Argentine Ant, by the many hairs on their body, including four pairs of hairs on the top of their thorax. Crazy ants are dark brown ants that have long legs and antennae. They are extremely fast moving.
Are Crazy Ants Dangerous?
While they don't sting like a fire ant or inject venom, they can bite. Bites from crazy ants feel like tiny pinches and the pain fades quickly. Crazy ants can pick up harmful bacteria from trash cans and other dirty objects and spread them to sensitive areas.
Crazy Ant Habitat
It commonly infests buildings, especially in the warmer, more humid parts of the state. A new, exotic species of crazy ant, in the genus Nylanderia, has recently become established in upper Gulf Coast and some parts of the Hill Country of Texas. It promises to become an important pest of homes in areas where it is introduced. Crazy ants nest in a variety of locations indoors and out. Indoors, look for nests in the soil of potted plants. These ants are small in size, but thousands in numbers.
Rover worker ants are very small ants, with adults only growing to between 1/12th and 1/16th of an inch. They vary in color from pale yellow to blackish-brown. A few of their distinctive characteristics include antennae that are only 9-segmented, instead of 12-segmented like most other types of ants, a hump-like thorax, and eyes that are relatively large compared to the size of their head.
Are Rover Ants Dangerous?
Rover ants are not dangerous to people or pets, they don’t have a stinger and aren’t known to bite. They become nuisance pests when they infest homes and businesses in large numbers.
Rover Ant Habitat
Colonies are usually found in the soil or rotting wood but they will nest in potted plants, wall voids and other harborages. Colonies are commonly associated with soil dwelling aphids and mealy bugs that produce honey dew, a sugary liquid extracted from plants on which these sucking insects feed.
Considered one of the worst invasive species in the world, the Fire Ant has become one of the most common ant species in Texas and throughout the southeastern U.S. Fire ants can be identified by their reddish-brown coloration, double pedicel, and by the variability in size of the workers.
Are Fire Ants Dangerous?
One of the most characteristic behaviors of the fire ant is its aggressive response to nest disturbance, including vigorous and painful stings. Fire ants do bite; not only that, they bite so that they can get a good grip on their victim in order to deliver a painful, venom-filled sting. Red imported fire ants have the ability to sting repeatedly and will attack in large numbers. They are most aggressive when the nest is disturbed by stepping on it or even kids playing with it. This is why we offer yard fire ant service to help aid in preventing fire ant mounds in your yard.
Fire Ant Habitat
Fire ant nests are often identified by their large mound-like appearance outdoors in the soil near a building’s foundation. Other potential nesting locations outdoors include yards and the surrounding landscaping. While typically found outdoors, fire ants can also find their way indoors through HVAC systems or other cracks and crevices. Fire ants also tend to be attracted to yard / landscape lights and can cause damage to them.
Velvet ants, a.k.a. Cow Killer Ants, have black fuzzy or hairy bodies with bright red, orange, yellow or even white areas. Velvet ants differ from other ants only having a slight constriction between the thorax and abdomen. Their antennae are more straight than elbowed. Velvet ants are approximately 1/8 – 7/8 inch long. The female velvet ant is wingless but the male is winged and resembles a wasp.
Are Velvet Ants Dangerous?
While the male velvet ant has wings and resembles a wasp, it does not have a stinger. The female velvet ant, on the other hand, packs a very potent sting which has earned this ant the nickname “Cow-Killer“. If you see one of these ants it is best to leave it alone as its sting can cause extreme pain.
Velvet Ant Habitat
Male velvet ants are often found on flowers or plant blooms. The female can typically be found scampering around on open bare or sandy areas. Velvet ants, unlike most other ants, are are usually found one at a time and not in groups. Female velvet ants will dig into underground chambers of nesting ground bees and wasps where they lay their eggs on the larvae found inside. Once the velvet ant is born, it will eat the host bee/wasp then it will spin a cocoon inside the pupal case of its victim.
If you have an ant problem or infestation or would like us to help prevent them in you home or yard, we strongly encourage you to contact a professional pest control company such as Grand Slam Pest Control. DIY treatments, such as the use of insecticides, can lead to negative effects on the environment and health concerns if used improperly. Contact us TODAY to schedule your free consultation and estimate.