Types of ants and their characteristics
Of the 20-30 species of ants which infest homes, the most common type of ants found in Virginia and North Carolina homes are as follows: acrobat ants, carpenter ants, crazy ants, fire ants and odorous house ants. Each of them have different characteristics and behaviors.
Acrobat ants nest under logs, firewood, stones or trees as well as in walls and floor voids. They feed on honeydew products produced by aphids, insects (alive or dead) and termite swarmers. Workers will defend the colony aggressively if under attack and are quick to bite as well as release a foul odor.
Acrobat ants are light brown to black in color and between 1/16 to 1/8 inch in length.
Carpenter ants may be confused with termites due to them infesting wood. Carpenter ants will nest in either rotting or sound trees as well as in structures including cavities. They feed on sugar solutions from honeydew producing aphids and the juices of insects they capture. Unlike termites, they do not eat wood, they just use the wooded area as their home.
Carpenter ants are amongst one of the largest in the US and range from 1/8 to 1/2 inch in length and are commonly black, although there are some species which are red or brown.
Crazy ants get their name from their erratic behavior in their search for food. They often nest in soil under objects such as mulch, stones, potted plants, trash cans as well as wall and floor structures. They feed on honeydew produced from aphids and other plant feeders, insects, fruit, seeds and almost all household food produce. They enter structures in the fall or after a rain as both conditions reduce the availability of honeydew outdoors.
Crazy ants are light brown to black in color and range from 1/16 to 1/8 inch in length.
Fire ants get their name because of the pain the sting inflicts on the victim. They usually nest in the ground but are attracted to electrical junction boxes such as air conditioners. Fire ant colonies are extremely large and can severely injure crops, lawns, small birds and people. Fire ants like a high protein diet but will feed on pretty much anything including other insects, seeds, nectar, nuts, plants and meats.
Fire ants are yellow to dark red-brown in color and size ranges from 1/16 to 1/4 inch length. They have stingers on their abdomen and antennae.
Odorous House Ants
Odorous house ants get their name from the rancid smell they produce when they are crushed. They nest outdoors under logs and stones as well as in wall and floor structures and around heat sources such as hot water pipes. Odorous house ants prefer a sweet diet but will eat almost any household food.
Odorous house ants are brown to black in color and range from 1/16 to 1/8 inch in length. When alarmed the workers will scurry around with their abdomen in the air.
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