Ants – Identification, Types, and Interesting Facts

Ant Identification

Ants are social insects that like to live in large groups or colonies. There is also an amazing diversity of ant species around the world. According to the National Wildlife Federation, there are at least 12,000 species of ants and most of them are red, black, or brown in color. For homeowners, it’s likely that you will only come across a few of these ant species at home.

Fun Facts About Ants

There is so much to learn about ants despite their tiny size. Here are the most interesting facts we know about ants.

1. Ants are Super Strong
Ants will make the ultimate construction worker because they are able to lift 20 times their own body weight! Think of an average person picking up a car on their own. That’s how strong ants can be.

2. Ants are Gladiators
There’s no stopping ants once they get into a fight. If a colony feels they are under threat then the ants will likely fight to their death in order to protect the colony.

3. Ants Feel by Vibration
Ants don’t have ears so they “hear” things by using their legs to get a sense of the vibration on the ground. Some species of ants may communicate by making a sound from rubbing together certain parts of their body.

4. They Leave Pheromone Trails
When ants forage for food and water, they will leave pheromone trails behind so that other worker ants can easily find out where to go once a source of food has been identified. One common tip you may come across for getting rid of ants is to clear out these pheromone trails in order to confuse the trail of ants.

5. Queens are Super Important
There’s a very important reason why ants are protective of their queens. When the queen of the colony dies, the remaining worker ants won’t be able to survive for long (usually no more than a few months). No new members can be added to the colony without the queen.

How to Identify Ants

Given their size, it’s not easy to identify what types of ants you might be dealing with at home. The following is a list of the most common ants that you may see and specific characteristics that may help distinguish them.

Carpenter Ants
These ants get their name because they like to build their nests using wood material. They can be quite destructive and deal long-term structural damages to homes if they aren’t dealt with quickly. They can reach a size of 5/8 inches, have an oval-shaped body, and are typically red or black in color.

Odorous House Ants
If you see tiny black insects in the house then it’s highly likely that you are dealing with odorous house ants. They can reach a size of up to 1/8 inches. Their body color is normally black or brown, and love feeding on sweet stuff.

Red Fire Ants
Fire ants are one of the most aggressive species of ants. They are known for leaving a painful sting so must be handled with care. They can reach a size of up to 3/8 inches, and are known for building mounds in landscape areas.

Pavement Ants
These ants get their name because they are known for building their nests in cracked pavement areas. They can reach a size of about 1/8 inches. They have quite the appetite and will eat almost anything including insects, plant seeds, and food leftovers.