All About Ants

All About Ants

Exterminating ants is often a challenge. If you’re overrun with ants, you need to hire a professional.

Colonial Pest Is Your Top Ant Infestation Specialist

Colonial Pest has been providing ant control services to clients since 1984, and we’re a leading ant exterminator Massachusetts and New Hampshire. We help residents and businesses get rid of ant infestations and prevent them from happening again.

We Offer Custom Ant Extermination Plans

We customize an ant control strategy to fit your specific needs. Our extermination methods are safe for pets and children for your ultimate peace of mind.

We Cover All the Bases

You can’t afford to leave one stone unturned when ants are invading your space. We offer:

  • Extermination Services to eliminate ant infestations in your home or business.
  • Exclusion Services to prevent ants from coming back.
  • Prevention Services to stop ant infestations before they start.

Ants are more than a nuisance – they’re a health hazard. Safeguard your family, your home, or your business by contacting us now at Colonial Pest.

Why Choose Colonial?

Want to learn more about ants? Keep reading!

Everything You Wanted to Learn About Ants

Learn About AntsAnts live on every continent in the world, except Antarctica. They have been around longer than humans, and they know how to thrive in almost any ecosystem. Ants live together in relatively complex colonies where they divide labor, communicate extensively, and solve complex problems together.

Unfortunately, ants also invade structures and damage crops, making them a significant threat to humans and their property. To protect your home or business against ants, you need to understand more about these tiny creatures. Keep reading for links to educational resources and more information about ants.

If you see ants infesting your home, crawling on the outside of your commercial building, walking through your kitchen, or intruding your space in any other way, you need professional pest control. Ants can survive in almost any environment, and once they set up a nest in your home, you need quality pest control services from a company that uses low-toxicity extermination products, the most updated application methods, and long-lasting pest prevention techniques.

Do you have ants in your home or business? Then, we can help. At Colonial Pest, we leverage our knowledge and experience to get pests out of your home or business — contact us today to set up an appointment.

Types of Ants

About 140 million years ago, ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors during the Cretaceous period. Over time, as flowering plants began popping up on the earth, the ant species diversified, and now there are over 20,000 different species of ants, only 12,500 of which have been identified.

Some of the most common types of ants are acrobat ants, velvet ants, pavement ants, fire ants, pharaoh ants, odorous house ants, and carpenter ants. Different kinds of ants display different behavioral and nesting patterns, and if you are trying to eliminate ants from your home or commercial building, you need a pest control specialist who understands the different types of ants common in your area.

Identifying Ants

You can identify different species of ants from their shape, size, and behavior. Sometimes, ants look almost indistinguishable from termites, but ants have defining characteristics such as elbowed antennae and a distinct “waist” between their gaster (lower section) and thorax (middle section).

As you continue reading, you can learn more about the morphology and behavior of different types of ants or check out the link below for tips on how to identify the small ants in your home or business.

Additional Resources:

I Have Small Ants in My House. What Kind Are They?

Acrobat Ants

Ranging from light brown to black, acrobat ants include a few different species, and they are found throughout the entire United States, except for areas with extremely high elevations.

Usually active during the day, acrobat ants tend to set up their colonies in trees, but they also live in walls and insulation. They look like carpenter ants; to figure out if you have an acrobat infestation, look for two pedicels (the waistline between the abdomen and thorax) and two spines on their thorax.

Additional Resources:

Acrobat Ants Do Back Flips

Acrobat Ants Indoors

Velvet Ants

Also called cow killer ants, velvet ants usually dig into the nests of bees or wasps on the ground, lay their eggs on the bee or wasp larvae, and then, when the young velvet ants emerge from their eggs, eat their hosts and make cocoons out of their pupal cases.

Sometimes, velvet ants move into residential or commercial structures to prey on other insects living inside. The females have stingers and powerful attacks, and the males can fly but not sting.

Additional Resources:

Colorful Velvet Ants Only Look Cuddly

Don’t Touch the Velvet Ant

Pavement Ants

Pavement Ants Pavement ants are only about 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch long. They feature a black or dark brown body with slightly lighter colored legs and antennae. They tend to swarm in June or July, but you can also get them in your home or commercial property at other times in the year.

Usually, these ants live underneath or beside pavement such as sidewalks, driveways, and patios, but they also come inside homes. If they find food sources, they are likely to spread the word and set up a colony inside. Although they are a nuisance, they don’t usually attack unless they are provoked. To identify pavement ants, look for two nodes on the pedicel and vertical grooves or small ridges along the head and thorax.

Additional Resources:

Pavement Ant

Thoughts on Spring Training and Pavement Ants

Pavement Ants Awaken

Pavement Ants Do Sting

Pavement Ants Sting

Pavement Ants Will Forage into Homes

Pest Library: Pavement Ants

Fire Ants

Fire ants are an invasive species that have been introduced to many areas where they are not native. They are a brownish shade of red and range from 1/16 to 3/16 inches in length. Although they usually nest outside in mounds with no visible openings, they also come inside buildings to look for food and water, especially during the late summer. Fire ants will sting if you disrupt their nests.

Additional Resources:

Fire Ants in the Northeast

Fire Ants Invade Cambridge, Massachusetts

Do We Have Fire Ants in New England? We Sure Do!

More About Fire Ants

Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh AntsLiving in nearly every part of the world, the pharaoh ant is an indoor nuisance that is especially prone to infesting hospitals. The worker pharaoh ant is light yellow to reddish brown and measures about 2mm in length, making it significantly smaller than many of the other ants described on this page.

The males are black, winged, and slightly longer at 3 mm. Queens can be up to 5 mm long, and although they have wings that they lose after mating, they cannot fly. Because they are naturally a tropical species, the pharaoh ant has to live indoors in heated buildings in most cold or temperate climates.

Additional Resources:

Pharaoh Ant

More About the Pharaoh Ant

Tiny Pharaoh Ants Are Difficult to Control

Pharaoh Ant

Odorous House Ants

Odorous House Ants Sometimes called a sugar ant, a stink ant, or a coconut ant, the odorous house ant is native to North America and found throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. These ants tend to move into homes or restaurants because they are drawn to anything sugary.

Measuring about 1/16 to 1/8 inch in length, odorous ants all tend to be the same size, regardless of sex or the role played in the colony. They are brown to black, feature just one node (waistline) at their pedicel, and sport an uneven thorax, but their defining characteristic is that they emit an unpleasant odor when crushed.

Additional Resources:

Odorous House Ant

Odorous House Ant is Very Challenging to Control

Odorous House Ants are Frequent and Unwelcome Visitors

Carpenter Ants

At 1/4 to 1/2 inches in length, carpenter ants are a lot longer than many other species of ants. They range in color from black to brown to a black-red-orange combo. Generally, they only come out at night, so you may not see them if they are in your home, but as they nest in doors, boxes, walls, and ceilings, you may notice small piles of sawdust where they have bored into their nesting areas. Carpenter ants don’t sting, but they can bite and damage furniture and building frames.

Additional Resources:

Carpenter Ant Control

Citronella Ants

Citronella AntsCitronella ants are yellow and often look like termites. As implied by their name, these ants exhibit a citronella odor, which increases if crushed. Like many other species of ants, citronella ants have small workers measuring about 4 mm long, while the queens tend to be about double that size. Generally, these ants don’t build nests inside of homes, but they situate their nests near homes under basement slabs or around foundations, and due to that, they may end up swarming inside of homes for several days at a time.

About Ants

Ants are some of the most compelling creatures on the plant. They can lift 50 times their own body weight and have a larger muscle-to-body ratio than humans. They’ve been farming longer than humans, but they are foragers as well. They live in colonies where each ant plays a vital, well-defined role.

Some ants can live up to 15 years. As a species, they have survived the ice age. During floods, swarms of ants join, creating giant ant rafts that can float down streams and keep the colony alive. To get rid of ants effectively, you need to understand their behavior and patterns.

Check out the following links to learn more about these tiny creatures and their communities:

Additional Resources:


100 Fun Ant Facts

What is America’s Number 1 Household Pest?

Do Ants Carry Diseases?

Baby Ants Rule

Some Ants Prefer Savory, Others Sweet

Ant Colonies

Ant ColoniesSocial insects, ants live together in colonies where adults take care of children, and every member of the colony plays a specific role in helping the group to survive. Workers maintain the colony and take care of the queen.

The queen is the largest ant in the colony and lives for years. She usually doesn’t leave the colony and lays numerous eggs that become the new workers. There is also a king ant who mates with the queen and then dies. Every few years, most colonies produce a new young king and queen who fly away from the original colony to start their own ant colony.

Additional Resources:

How Do New Ant Colonies Start?

Ant Highways Are Much Like People Highways

A View of Life in an Ant Colony


As foragers, ants often leave their nests to find food. If they find food in your home, they may create a path between their outside nest and the food source in your home or office, and as a result, you may see ants regularly even though they aren’t nesting in your home.

However, in some cases, ants decide to set up nests inside. Often, they make their home in moist wood, but they can also be drawn to very dry wood. Depending on the species of ant, they may also set up nests in walls, under floors, or in other non-wooded cavities in your home.

Additional Resources:

Ants Nest Indoors

Will Ants Start a Nest Inside the House?

Pesky Ants Nesting

Indoor Ants

Indoor AntsSome ants live most of their lives outdoors and come inside occasionally, while others tend to live indoors almost all the time. Regardless of their preference for indoor or outdoor living, ants are attracted to homes with abundant food sources and warmth.

They can stay active in a warm home all winter, but if they’re in a cold part of the house, they may go dormant when temperatures drop and reappear when the weather warms up. Similarly, if ants are living outside but coming in for food, they may disappear in cold temps and return in warm temps.

Ants move their colonies quickly in response to changing temperatures or new food sources.

Additional Resources:

Do Indoor Ants Leave in the Winter?

Indoor Ant Invasions Are a Rite of Spring

What Causes the Occasional Indoor Ant Problem?

Why Do I Have Ants in my House?

Ants and Houseplants

Ants need food, and they enjoy moisture. As a result, they often nest in houseplants where they can enjoy a tasty diet of aphids, scales, or mealybugs. Some ants nest in the soil of potted plants, but often, they make a path from their other nests to the plant.

Once ants know that you have a food source in the house, they generally keep coming until you take steps to eliminate them. In many cases, they don’t target houseplants right away. Instead, they go into the home to snack on crumbs or pet food, and once inside, they discover your houseplants.

Additional Resources:

Ants in Your Plants

The Ant/Houseplant Connection

Ants and Aphids

Ants and AphidsAlso called greenflies or blackflies, aphids are soft-bodied insects that feed on plant sap. They can ruin plants by eating their roots which causes the plant to shrivel and die. They also set up entire colonies on the stems and leaves of certain plants. Ants keep aphids much like humans keep cows.

The ants nurture the aphids and eat their sweet honeydew secretions. Often, ants can keep giant groups of aphids alive, and the aphids may end up eating the plants in your home, garden, or fields. When aphids are being tended to by ants, they live longer and cause more damage.

Additional Resources:

Why Ants Herd Aphid Cows

The Ant/Aphid Connection

Baiting Ants

Baiting AntsBaiting ants is one of the most effective ways to eliminate them from an area. Baiting can be used on its own or in combination with sprays or other ant control methods. Ant bait features food and insecticide. Worker ants find the bait while they are foraging, and then they bring it back to the colony.

As the other ants in the colony eat the bait, they ingest the insecticide and start to die. The size of the colony and the type of bait used can impact how long it takes the process to work. While you may start to see results in a few days, the whole process can take a week or longer to complete.

Additional Resources:

Why Is Bait the Best Way to Control Ants?

Ant Baits Need Time to Work

Baiting Ants Can Be an Involved Process

For Pesky Ants, Baits Are the Better Choice

Why We Use Ant Baits

Professional Ant Control

You can get rid of an ant or two on your own, but if you have an ant colony in your home or if foragers keep coming into your home for food, you may need professional ant control services.

A pest control expert can assess the situation, find the ants’ nests, and help you decide on the best extermination methods. Then, they can take steps to protect your home or commercial building from future ant infestations.

Additional Resources:

Ant Invasion: What to Do?

Ant Control Removal Services

How Can I Get Rid of Ants?

How to Keep Ants Out of Your Home

What’s the Right Way to Control Ants?

Other Interesting Ant Resources:

The world of ants is compelling. Researchers are continually finding out new information about ants, and those facts can play an essential role in guiding pest control specialists to new and improved ways of controlling ants. To learn more about ants, check out these resources.

Urban Legends Abound! Don’t Be Fooled

It’s Wintertime, So Why Do I See Big Black Ants in My House?

What Can You Do with Infested Firewood?

Crazy Ants

Crazy Ants Can Drive You . . .

Have Ants? Need Help? Contact Us Today

At Colonial Pest, we help protect home and business owners in Massachusetts and New Hampshire from ants and other infestations. Call us now for more information!



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