One of the most common summer pests is ants. Ants are social creatures who live in colonies made up of workers and a queen. They can also be incredibly difficult to get rid of once they make their way into your home. Treatment and prevention depend on what type of ant you’re dealing with. With over 700 species in the United States alone, identifying your pest can be a daunting task. To help make this task a little easier, here are 4 of the most common ants in our area, as well as some prevention tips to help keep your home safe from these nuisance pests this summer.

ACROBAT ANTS:

Acrobat Ant

  • Get their name from their ability to raise their abdomen over their thorax and head when they are threatened
  • Light brown to black in color
  • 1/8″ in length
  • Heart shaped abdomen
  • Found throughout the United States
  • May bite when threatened but usually not aggressive
  • Can strip insulation from electrical and phone wires and cause shorts

CARPENTER ANTS:

Carpenter Ant

  • Get their name from excavation of wood to build nests
  • Usually red, black or a combination of these two colors
  • 5/8″ in length
  • Segmented bodies with an oval shape
  • Found throughout the United States
  • Build nests in wood sources including tree stumps, firewood, and landscaping
  • Will nest in walls of homes
  • Need a constant water source to survive
  • Prefer wood that is wet or moldy but will eventually move on to dry wood
  • Can cause significant property damage when building nests

LITTLE BLACK ANTS:

Little Black Ant

  • Get their name from their small size and black coloration
  • Dark brown to black in color
  • 1/16″ in length
  • Bisegmented and unevenly rounded shape
  • Found throughout the United States, especially in the Eastern region
  • Common in wooded areas
  • Nest under rocks, logs, piles of bricks and lumber, in wall voids and decaying wood
  • Swarm from June to August
  • Feed on grease, oil, meats, fruit, vegetables, other insects, and plant secretions; prefer sweet foods
  • Have stingers but they are too small to be effective

FIRE ANTS:

Fire Ant

  • Get their name from their ability to inflict painful bites and stings on their prey
  • Dark reddish brown in color
  • 1/8″ to 3/8″ in length
  • Segmented, oval shaped bodies
  • They are an invasive species found throughout the southern United States
  • Build large mounds that can be 2-4 square feet in size
  • Nest in soil near foundations and landscaping
  • Enter structures through HVAC systems and units
  • Will sting when nests are disturbed
  • Stings are painful and leave raised welts with white pustules
  • Usually inflict multiple stings on a victim

PREVENTION:

Now that you know what kind of ants you’re dealing with, what can you do to prevent them? Check out these 14 tips to prevent ants this summer.

  1. Seal all possible entry points with a silicone-based caulk. Make sure to check around doors and windows, pipes, and utility lines.
  2. Get rid of any standing water on your property.
  3. Make sure downspouts are diverting water away from foundations and that gutters are clear. Consider installing gutter guards to prevent leaks.
  4. Keep branches and shrubbery trimmed back away from the sides of your house.
  5. Keep firewood stored off the ground and at least 20 feet from your home.
  6. Consider using a dehumidifier inside your home to prevent moisture.
  7. Keep all food, including pet food, stored in sealed containers.
  8. Don’t leave pet food out overnight.
  9. Clean up crumbs and spills immediately.
  10. Vacuum often.
  11. Empty your trash on a regular basis.
  12. Remove dead tree stumps from your property.
  13. Consider using baits – either gel, granule, or bait stations.
  14. If you suspect you have an ant problem call a professional pest control company who can determine what kind of ants you’re dealing with and set you up with a comprehensive treatment and prevention plan.