Ant Control Tips

 If you are experiencing an ant problem, identifying the ant species may be of help when trying to choose control methods. In this article, we review how to identify a few main species and control options available.

There are several species of ants that you may encounter invading your home or outdoor area.  Some of the more common types are carpenter ants, pharaoh ants, sugar ants, black ants, house ants, thief ants, odorous house ants, argentine ants, crazy ants, ghost ant, acrobat ant, big headed ant, pavement ant and red imported fire ant.

Carpenter ants in the United States are some of the largest ants and there can be several different types of carpenter ants infesting one home or business at a time.  You will want to look for a black or red black in color and and they are typically about 3/8 to ½ inch in size.  And you will typically see worker ants.

Carpenter ants are polymorphic meaning that the same species can have multiple sizes of workers.  One of the best methods of identifying carpenter ants from other ants, is to look for their specific characteristics.  They will have a waist with only one node and a thorax with an evenly rounded upper surface.

The Argentine Ant is thin and brown and the size of a grain of rice. If you have trouble determining whether or not you have an Argentine Ant, bring a sample to your local extension service and they should be able to tell you.  The Argentine Ant gets protein from eating insects, but prefers the honeydew liquid that is made by aphids, scales, mealy bugs and whiteflies.  You will often find him under boards, stones, tree stumps and potted plants, searching for his favorite meal. The Argentine Ant may begin to move indoors in the fall, as his food sources dwindle during that time. Although it may be difficult to completely eradicate the Argentine Ant, you can discourage him from sharing your immediate space, and from ruling your outdoor living areas. 

One of the most dangerous ants to have invading your home is the Red Imported Fire Ant. When dealing with a fire ant infestation indoors, it is important to utilize all methods of control and be safe about chemical applications.  Fire ants look like ordinary house or garden ants, but have some distinguishing characteristics. They can vary in size within one nest, from 1/16 to 1/5 inch long. Fire ants are dark reddish brown in color on the head and body, with a darker abdomen. Fire ants are extremely aggressive when disturbed, and if one bites you, you’ll know for sure you’ve been bit.

Options for indoor control include products like; gels, baits, dusters and sprays.  Some of the household ants that will be affected by these applications aresugar ants, Pharaoh ants, Cornfield Ants, Argentine Ants.  Gels and baits are good because your chemical pest control is contained to one area and are not spreading the chemicals onto numerous surfaces in your home.

Outdoor ant control may include products such as granules, liquid sprays and baits.  Granules are able to be broadcast or used to treat individual mounds.  Liquid spray insecticides may reduce populations of other nuisance insects in your area. Look for products that can incorporate in insect growth regulator to reduce the resurgence of ants on your property.

Monica Bird (931 Posts)

Monica’s compassion for her customer's struggles with pest control issues and passion for pest control stems from over 10 years in the industry. With a master’s degree in entomology, she uses her knowledge and experience in chemistry, insects and pests to educate her customers.


Leave a Reply