Your Ultimate Guide to Ants and How to Get Rid of Them

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Ants are eusocial insects from the Formicidae family and are closely related to wasps and bees. There are over 700 species of ants registered in the United States and almost all homeowners come across this pest at some point. While ants are not considered dangerous, they can contaminate food sources and cause substantial structural damage in the home, depending on the species.

Ant Colonies

Ants live in organized colonies, and seeing just a couple of them in the home means the nest is near and infestation is likely to happen.

They are super well organized and have dedicated roles in the ant society, and this is one of the reasons why they have been on earth for so long, acclimating and adapting to all conditions. Some ants love to build complex nests while others prefer a nomadic lifestyle.

What Do Ants Look Like?

Ants have a very distinctive look that separates them from other insects. There are many species of ants, but in general, they all have elbowed antennae, a large head with specific glands, and a narrow waist that continues into a broad abdominal segment. Just like many other insects, ants have exoskeletons that protect the inner organs, and they usually grow about 0.03 to 2 inches.

The head of an ant might be microscopic, but it has many sensory organs. Ants have compound eyes created from many connected lenses and have great movement and detection abilities. The recognizable antennas on the head pick up vibrations, chemicals, and signals from other ants.

Different Types of Ants

Ants are spread all across the globe and in the United States, there are over 700 species. While some are more common than others, certain ant species infiltrated homes and now present a serious pest management problem.

Most common types of ants:

  • Carpenter Ants

Mostly found in the northern U.S., this type of ant lives in timber and trees, but they gladly infest homes and cause structural damage. Even though they don’t feed on wood, they build elaborate tunnels and nests, compromising the structure.

These ants are large and in reddish-brown color, and some species even sting if disturbed.

  • Fire Ants

Fire ants are dark-reddish in color and found in the southern U.S. While they mostly build colonies outside, there have been reported infestations of homes, which can be quite unpleasant considering the “fire” sting these ants use.

  • Ghost Ants

As the name suggests, ghost ants are light in color and very small. They live primarily in tropical areas like Florida and Hawaii, but they can survive in greenhouses and heated spaces. While these tiny ants don’t sting, they do leave a foul odor when crushed and invade homes easily.

  • Odorous House Ants

The most common species of ants in the United States are the odorous house ants. These small insects emit a rotten odor when squished, and thus they are also known as sugar or stink ants.

These ants don’t bite, and they will not jeopardize your home structure, but on the other hand, they will look for a food source and contaminate it.

Common Treatments for Ants

There are many ways to control ant populations in homes, but most of the time prevention is the best solution. This can include the elimination of standing water around the house, keeping trees and branches away from the home, reducing food sources, and preventing the ants from entering in the first place by sealing all cracks.

There are also chemical solutions on the market that aim to kill the colonies such as aerosols, sprays, and poison lures.

If the ant infestation is severe, it’s always a good idea to consult experts and hire exterminators to resolve the issue before any damage is done.

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