Ants are one of the most common insects throughout the Houston area. They come in various sizes, colors, and types but generally have one thing in common: you don’t want them inside your home. Because ants are social creatures, a small infestation can turn large rather quickly. So, if you see one near or around your property, it’s best to keep an eye out for more.
Luckily, with the right information, you can better understand the types of ants you’re likely to find and avoid colonies entering your house. Use our guide on the most common ant species, their description, and their habits to keep yourself informed before infestations happen.
One of the most common species of ant you’ll find in the Houston area is the fire ant. These ants are known for their reddish-brown color and double pedicel (a node between their thorax and abdomen). Fire ant workers vary in size but do not exceed two inches.
Fire ants typically always nest outdoors, in large mounds with no visible entrance, but are known to venture inside in search of food. Additionally, they’re well-known for being aggressive and preying on other insects. If they feel threatened, they’ll sting, which can leave an allergic reaction for some humans.
Also read: Why You Should Worry About Fire Ants
The Argentine ant is a small, light-brown pest with three pairs of legs, one node segment with a pointed peak, and an uneven thorax. These tiny ants prefer to nest in moist soil, or under structures and along sidewalks.
Unlike the fire ant, these insects prefer to forage inside homes over nesting outside. They’re attracted to sweets, syrups, sugars, fruit juices, and honeydew. Keeping your kitchen clean off these sticky substances can help prevent them from entering your home.
Carpenter ants are large, black shiny creatures that have a spineless thorax and evenly rounded upper-side. They have some of the largest mandibles of any ant species and are known to chew on stumps, hollow logs, utility poles, and fence posts. However, they do not have a stinger, so they pose no serious risk to humans or pets.
You can find these ants nesting in the areas mentioned above like hollow tree trunks, branches, and other rotting wood. They are willing to forage up to 100 yards away from their nest in search of food and will eat almost anything if given the opportunity – seeds, sweets, honey, jelly, grease, fats, and more. They may burrow inside window sills, baseboards, wooden floors, and porches if they find a suitable home.
Crazy ants, who first started showing up in Texas in 2002, get their name for their fast running behavior. They move quickly and in erratic patterns. They’re dark brown, with hair on top of their thorax and visible antennae.
Crazy ants will nest outside of homes but may enter your home to infiltrate your electrical equipment. They’re attracted to the tight spaces around and within electronics. These ants signal to others to also attack your electronics, so if you see one, it’s best to call a professional before they short-circuit anything.
Pavement ants have brown to black bodies and pale legs and antennae. As their name suggests, you can find their outdoor nests in the cracks of pavements, sidewalks, cement slabs, bricks, stones, or other cracks found in structural elements.
They are attracted to other insects, plant sap, and household foods and therefore will forage inside homes in search of these items. Inside, you can find them nesting in insulation, walls, or under floorboards. They tend to invade in large numbers, starting in the kitchen, making them easy to identify.
Small and invasive, pharaoh ants are well-known for choosing to nest indoors. You can spot them by their yellowish color, dark-tipped abdomen, and two pedicels. You can also find them nesting anywhere near food or water sources inside your home, making them difficult to handle by yourself. However, they are commonly found in wall voids, electrical boxes, beneath floors, in old trash, and narrow spaces.
Ghost ants are newer to the Houston region, but cases have become more frequent in recent years. A ghost ant has three pairs of legs, a dark brown head and thorax, and almost translucent lower body. They do not have a stinger, making them non-threatening.
Their nesting habits are similar to pharaoh ants. Outside, they’ll nest in the ground or under stones, logs, or within piles of leaves or other debris. Inside, you can find them in wall voids, behind baseboards, and inside potted plants. You can also find them in your kitchen as they are attracted to sweet foods.
These small brown or black ants get their name from the coconut-like smell they give off when crushed. They can also be detected by their uneven thorax and lack of spine. They feed on the substance secreted by aphids; a pest typically found inside gardens. You can also find odorous ants nesting in brick walls or inside your home if they find a crack in a wall.
A rover ant is a very small, pale yellow or blackish brown insect whose thorax is uneven, giving in a hump-like appearance. They can be found in mulch, leaf piles, and trash. They’re also known to show up around swimming pools or overwatered gardens.
Like many ant species, rover ants move indoors looking for sweet foods. They can enter through cracks in your home’s foundations or any other gaps that lead inside. Fortunately, their colonies are small, and they do not bite or sting.
Knowing the differences in ant species is crucial in preventing them from overtaking your home. But every species is unique and enjoys particular nesting, traveling, and eating patterns. Even with the above information, you may still have trouble handling the situation on your own. A professional, like Cypress Creek, is trained with the right expertise and equipment to locate, identify, and eliminate an ant population plaguing you. Contact us today to learn more.