Ants

These are the different types on ants found in Florida.

  • Acrobat Ants
  • Argentine Ants
  • Big Headed Ants
  • Caribbean Crazy Ants
  • Carpenter Ants
  • Compact Carpenter Ants
  • Crazy Ants
  • Elongated Twig Ants
  • Fire Ants
  • Ghost Ants
  • Odorous House Ants
  • Pavement Ants
  • Pharaoh Ants
  • Pyramid Ants
  • Rover Ants
  • Theif Ants
  • White Footed Ants

Acrobat Ants:

Acrobat Ants

Appearance:
Acrobat ants have very shiny bodies that vary in color from light red to dark brown or black. They have a heart-shaped abdomen, and get their name from the unique habit of running with it bent up and over their thorax when bothered or agitated, and may sting or bite. They are often very shiny.

Behavior:
Acrobat ants eat a wide variety of foods, including sweets and proteins, especially those contained in the honeydew produced by aphids and other sap-feeding insects. They have also been known to feed on termites or other ants. Acrobat ants will trail along tree limbs, utility lines, and fences; they can enter structures by simply crawling through cracks or any opening such as windows. They can found both indoors and outdoors, and some species emit a foul odor when bothered.

Habitat:
Acrobat ants are the most dominant arboreal ant species in the forests of Northern Florida, and prefer nesting in dead or decaying wood. You will not find them in above-ground mounds. They are extremely territorial, and only one colony will exist in a tree. When nesting in structures, acrobat ants live in moist or rotting wood, or in wood kept damp by leaking plumbing fixtures.

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Argentine Ants

Appearance:
Argentine ants are light brown to brown in color.

Behavior:
Argentine ants are not antagonistic toward each other; however, when they move into new territory they drive out or kill all of the native ants. Argentine ants usually nest outside human habitats. Sometimes they will set up a colony on the inside, often in the soil of a potted plant, and have even been found in parked cars.

Outside, they travel rapidly in distinctive trails along sidewalks, up sides of buildings, along branches of trees and shrubs, along baseboards, and under edges of carpets. Workers can emit a stale, musty smell when crushed or stepped on.

Habitat:
Argentine ants live in very large colonies, with hundreds of thousands of workers and multiple queens. They often live in smaller sub-colonies, which they often combine to form one huge colony that can span several properties and contain millions of ants. Outdoors, they live in soil, under wood, slabs, debris, mulch, or in branches and cavities of trees and in shrubs, or in shallow, 1-2” deep mounds in open, often disturbed habitats.

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Big-Headed Ants

Appearance:
Big-headed ants are light brown to dark reddish brown in color. They have two different size workers: major workers heads are very large in proportion to their bodies. The minor workers do not have large heads.

Behavior:
Big-headed ants tend to nest in soil in protected areas like under rocks, logs, firewood, patio blocks, landscape debris and more. The ants will also nest in open areas. They trail readily, but usually not far from their nest. Big-headed ants will construct mud tubes on foundations, similar to subterranean termites tunnels.

Habitat:
Big-headed ants form colonies that can number in the tens of thousands. Like Argentine ants, they often form mega-colonies with multiple queens with many sub-colonies. These “supercolonies” can be spread out and difficult to control. Their diet consists of live and dead insects, and they are partial to the honeydew from aphids and similar insects. They tend to feed indoors on meats and grease, sweets, and high-protein foods, and can also get into pet foods.

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Caribbean Crazy Ants

Appearance:

Caribbean crazy ants are golden-brown to reddish-brown in color. The body surface is smooth and glossy, and covered with dense hairs. After feeding, their abdomen will appear to be striped due to the stretching of the light colored membrane that connects the segments of the abdomen.

Behavior:
The Caribbean Crazy ant is so named because of its rapid, erratic movements. They are known to scavenge for a wide variety of solid and liquid foods, such as seeds, fruits, garbage, honeydew, and practically any household food. They are also predatory and will attack insects and other ant species. Caribbean Crazy ants will forage much more erratically than other ants and form much looser trails.

Habitat:
In the last few years, most of the reports of Caribbean Crazy ant infestations have come from pest control operators in and around South Florida. Thick foraging rails with thousands of ants can be found along sidewalks, around buildings and on trees and shrubs. They often build very large colonies with thousands of workers and multiple queens.

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Carpenter Ants

Appearance:
Carpenter ants vary in color from dull black with reddish legs, a combination of red and black or completely red or brown. Also known as the Florida carpenter ant.

Behavior:
A parent carpenter ant colony may establish one or more parent colonies, which contain an egg-laying queen, brood and workers; they also build satellite nests in sound wood that contain large numbers of workers but no queen or larvae. They then may move from an outdoor parent colony to an indoor satellite nest, which does not require moisture since there are no eggs present.

Carpenter ants are omnivorous, and feed on plant juices, fresh fruits, insects (living or dead), meats, syrup, honey, jelly, sugar, grease, fat, honeydew, etc. They feed readily on termites and usually never co-exist with them in a home. Workers are known to forage for food as far as 100 yards from their nest, and have strong jaws which readily bite when contacted.

Habitat: 
Outdoors, carpenter ants nest in live and dead trees, rotting logs and stumps, porch pillars and roofs, windowsills and wood in contact with soil. They are also known to live in telephone poles and other man-made structures, and prefer to be close to food sources and safe from environmental hazards such as flooding or heat.

Indoors, they tend to nest in wood, which may be softened by moisture, and in dry wall voids. Workers cut galleries and tunnels in wood, expanding the nest size for the enlarged colony. They have also been found to nest in foam insulation. The presence of 20 or more winged and/or wingless ants indoors is usually a sign of indoor infestation.

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Compact Carpenter Ant

Appearance:
Compact Carpenter ants have a brown head and thorax, and a blackish abdomen.

Behavior:
Workers are seen foraging in very dispersed trails or individually. Foragers have been observed on trees, bushes, along sidewalks, through lawns and exteriors of structures. Unlike the Florida carpenter ant, these smaller “compact” carpenter ants’ swarmers do not fly in structures.

Habitat:
Their most common habitats are hollow twigs, old termite galleries in dead wood, voids of tree trunks, and leaf axel bases in palms. They will also nest in the rotted ends of fence pickets and rails. Compact carpenter ant nests are usually hard to find. Although it is primarily an arboreal (living in trees) species, it is increasingly being recognized as a structural pest.

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Crazy Ant

Appearance:
Crazy ants vary from red-brown to grayish, and even black in color. Crazy ants are very easy to identify due to their fast, excited movements.

Behavior:
Workers are omnivorous, feeding on live and dead insects, seeds, honeydew, fruits, plant sap, and many household foods. The Crazy ant is highly adaptable and can live in both very dry and moist habitats. Their colonies are often large, and can become quite large. On warm, humid evenings, large numbers of males gather outside nest entrances and may mill about excitedly.

The Crazy ant thrives in places such as gasoline stations, convenience stores, and sidewalk cafes where workers may be seen transporting crumbs and insects attracted to lights. Crazy ants are very easy to identify due to their fast, excited movements.

Habitat:
They typically nest outdoors in the soil and in the cavities of trees and shrubs, but frequently enter homes in the fall or after rain. Once inside your home, they will nest in wall and floor voids, especially near hot water pipes and heaters.

The Crazy ant thrives in places such as gasoline stations, convenience stores, and sidewalk cafes where workers may be seen transporting crumbs and insects attracted to lights.

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Elongated Twig Ants

Appearance:
Elongate Twig ants are bi-colored orange-black or red and brown. They also have large, prominent eyes.

Behavior:
Elongate Twig ants are large, slender, solitary ants that are often seen on vegetation, and nest in twigs, plant cavities and in dead plants. They have small colonies and more than a few individuals are rarely seen.

They will often fall from bushes or trees onto humans or picnic tables. They are noticed when they inflict their painful sting when trapped under clothing. Elongate twig ants feed on other insects and honeydew from aphids.

Habitat:
Elongate Twig ants have single queen nests, which contain few individuals. They nest in hollow twigs and dried grasses barely wide enough for two or three ants to pass one another, and are usually placed high up in large trees. They are seldom found indoors.

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Fire Ants

Appearance:
Fire ants have a copper or reddish-brown head and body with a darker abdomen.

Behavior:
Fire ants are not your average pest; they are capable of causing serious medical, agricultural and property damage. They were most likely introduced to the States via cargo unloaded from ships from South America.

They are thought to infest over 260 million acres in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Puerto Rico. Infestations have also been reported in Virginia and Arizona.

Fire ants are distinguished by their aggressive behavior, particularly if their nest/mound is disturbed. When this occurs numerous fire ants will quickly rush out of the mound and attack the intruder. They are notorious for their painful, burning sting that results in intense itching and a pustule that resembles a painful pimple. Infection may occur if it is broken.

People unlucky enough to disturb a fire ant colony are seldom stung just once; dozens or even hundreds of stings can be inflicted in a very short time. Some people can have an allergic reaction to fire ant stings that range from rashes and swelling to paralysis or anaphylactic shock. In rare cases, severe allergic reactions can cause death.

Fire ants are omnivorous and will feed on almost any plant or animal matter. Workers will forage for food more than 100 feet from the colony during both the day and night. When a large food source is found, fire ants recruit other workers to help take the food back to the colony.

Habitat:
Fire ants typically nest outdoors in dome-shaped mounds, some up to 4 inches high, or can be found next to or underneath timber, logs, rocks, pavers, bricks, etc. Mounds will not always be evident, but are usually found in open areas such as lawns, pastures, and along roadsides.

Single-queen mounds can have up to 250,000 workers and will fight other fire ant colonies, and can result in 40-150 mounds per acre. Multiple-queen can have upwards of 500,000; since they do not fight other fire ant colonies, their mounds are found closer together, and can reach densities of 200 to 800 mounds per acre!

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Ghost Ant

Appearance:
Ghost ants have a dark brown head and thorax, with a opaque or milky white abdomen and legs.

Behavior:
The Ghost ant is highly adaptable in its nesting habits, nesting readily outdoors or indoors. Colonies may be moderate to large in size containing numerous reproducing females (queens). They have a habit of running rapidly and erratically when disturbed.

They are small enough to enter homes through the tiniest holes in caulking or cracks in foundations, or from plants that touch the home. Once inside, they can be seen in kitchens and bathrooms trailing to and from the sinks in search of moisture. They are fond of honeydew and are similar to Argentine ants in that they guard honeydew-producing insects. They feed on dead and live insects, but once inside they will eat anything sweet (hence the name “sugar ant”, as they are sometimes called).

Habitat:
The Ghost ant is a nuisance ant that is common in central and southern Florida. It is particularly fond of nesting inside the aluminum supports around screen porches. Once inside your home, it will nest in potted plants and other moist areas, as well as wall voids or spaces between cabinetry and baseboards.

Their colonies are broken into sub-colonies that occupy different nest sites and exchange individuals back and forth along odor trails. The sites include damp grass, plant stems and cavities beneath debris in open, rapidly changing environments. Ghost ants are opportunistic nesters and are often found in places that may remain habitable for only a few days or weeks, and are thus known as a “tramp” ant.

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Odorous House Ant

Appearance:
Odorous House ants are dark brown to black in color.

Behavior:
Odorous House ants are opportunistic nesters like the ghost ant; they live inhabit various nesting sites, moving constantly to avoid bad weather conditions. They regularly forage in large numbers for food along well-traveled trails, feeding on dead insects, meats and sweets, especially honeydew.

Colonies can be very large, ranging in size from several hundred to over 100,000 individuals; they also build many sub-colonies that are close to the main one. In addition, odorous house ant colonies can produce multiple queens and thousands of workers. The different colonies do not fight for food, instead preferring to exchange food, workers and even larvae between different neighboring colonies.

Habitat:
Outdoors, odorous house ant nests are usually shallow and just under the soil surface. They are also found in mulch, debris, logs, stumps, and under stones and outdoor tarps. Once inside your home, they will nest in wall and floor voids spaces, and in moist or warm areas around hot-water pipes and heaters, behind paneling and under carpets.

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Pavement Ants

 

Appearance: 
Pavements ants are light brown to black in color, and have pale legs and antennae and a black abdomen. They also have small grooves on their head and thorax.

Behavior:
Pavement ants prefer to nest in lawns or under stones, concrete slabs, boards or at the edge of pavement, and in houses in crevices in woodwork and bricks. They feed on insects, honeydew, sweets, fruit, greasy foods and pet foods.

Worker ants may forage for food up to 30 feet from the colony and readily set up trails to and from food sources, mostly at night. Pavement ants will eat almost everything that is consumed by humans.

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Pharaoh Ants

Appearance: 
Pharaoh ants have a pale yellow to orange or red body, and black shading on the top and rear portion of their abdomen. Often confused with other ant species such as the thief ant, pharaoh ants have twelve-segmented antennae with a three-segmented club.

Behavior:
Pharaoh ants tend to feed on sweets, proteins and insects. They forage in set trails along carpets, countertops, cabinets, floors, and baseboards, favoring warm, moist locations in which to nest. Their colonies can become very large with multiple queens; they are also very mobile, with the ability to form new, smaller colonies containing very few ants in a process called “budding”. They can breed continuously throughout the year.

Habitat:
Pharaoh ants can only survive outdoors in sub-tropical areas, where they are often found in leaf litter or rain gutter debris. Once inside, they can be found in wall and cabinets spaces, around insulation, behind baseboards and any other accessible crevices and spaces. They are often found in feeding trails on wiring or hot water pipes, which are used to travel through walls and between floors.

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Pyramid Ants

Appearance: 
Pyramid ants are pale orange to dark brown in color. They are slender with a pyramid-shaped projection on its thorax.

Behavior:
Pyramid ants move quickly and forage in strong, easily detected trails. They are similar to fire ants in that often nest in open, sunny areas, and are rarely found indoors. They can also be found around patios, porches and decks. They feed on other insects and honeydew, and are particularly fond of sweets.

Habitat:
Pyramid ant colonies tend to be small with a single queen. Workers construct the nest in open, sandy areas, where they deposit soil in a circular crater or mound around the entrance hole. Mounds are usually 2 to 4 inches in diameter are easily spotted around pavers and logs and are often found near the nests of other ants.

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Rover Ants

Appearance: 
Rover ants are yellow-blonde to dark brown in color, with the abdomen appearing swollen or humped at the front end.

Behavior:
Rover ants can often be seen running excitedly running up and down vertical objects in yards, such as blades of grass, chairs, and fence posts, and are sometimes confused with crazy ants due to their movement.

Habitat:
Rover ants are common in woods and other natural settings, as well as around buildings. Outside, they often nest in soil or decaying wood. In buildings they prefer areas with high moisture and are often associated with bathrooms or plumbing or structural leaks. They nest in small, single-queen colonies, usually with many colonies in a single area. They feed on proteins and sweets, especially honeydew from aphids, etc.

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Thief Ants

Appearance: 
Thief ants are yellow to bronze to dark brown in color. They also have smazll eyes and a stinger at the rear of the abdomen.

Behavior:
Thief ants travel in set trails indoors and out. Nests are large and often have tiny tunnels connecting to the nearby nests of larger ants from which they habitually steal. Once indoors, they forage for foods with a high protein content, such as grease, cheese and meats, and will hollow out seeds for the oil content. Unlike most ant species, thief ants are more attracted to these food types, occasionally feeding on sweets.

Thief ants also feed on ant larvae and scavenge on dead insects and rodents. They travel great distances in search of food, and once a source is located they form a trail from the food to the nest moving in steady columns. However, they are renown for stealing from other nearby ant colonies.

Habitat:
Outdoors, thief ants nest in multiple locales: under stones or logs, around walkways and house foundations, and in rotting wood and exposed soil. They also often nest near larger ants, from which they steal food and young larvae. They often form small, multiple queen colonies that can be difficult to find.

Once inside, they occasionally build nests in walls or in the foundations. Indoor nests arefound in any small crevices, particularly woodwork and masonry, under floors and behind baseboards. They may travel from one room to another on electrical wires, and may be seen in electrical outlets.

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White Footed Ants

Appearance: 
White-footed ants are black to brownish-black with yellowish-white feet, hence their name. They have no sting.

Behavior:
White-footed ants do not bite or sting, nor have they been reported to cause any type of structural damage. They are, however, attracted to sweet foods. It is common to find them foraging indoors for food and moisture, and outside on hedges infested with honeydew producing insects. White-footed ants are similar to argentine ants in that they have been known to tend or “farm” aphids and scales to obtain the honeydew they excrete. They will also feed on dead insects and other proteins.

They tend to inhabit huge colonies, sometimes containing up to a million individuals. Workers and reproductives may also split up and branch off to start new satellite colonies in a process called “budding”. Mass movements of white-footed ants carrying their larvae and pupae may be observed during budding, which can appear as a heavy black line due to their small size and heavy trails.

Habitat:
White-footed ants frequently nest outside in trees and bushes, under palm fronds and tree bark, in loose mulch, under debris and in leaf litter. Although they tend to prefer nesting outside, they can be found in wall spaces and attics and under roof shingles. Nest sites are usually close to food and moisture sources, and are often spread out as interconnected satellite colonies.

Bugs.com . “Bugs Database.” Florida Ants (2009):  Web. 20 Jul 2011.

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If you live in South Florida Pro Pest Control can handle all of your potential problems so contact us if you have any questions and be sure to receive your free estimate.
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