Ants

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Ants are the most common pest in South Florida. There are over 1000 species of ants in the US and over 600 species in Florida!

 

Every species of ant is unique in its own way. They can differ in appearance, what they eat, where they nest, how they forage, (collect food), colony size, number of queens in each colony, how they defend themselves, and much more. 

Knowing the difference is key in determining your specific plan to eradicate them. An ant that is sweet-feeding (cakes, cookies, sugar, fruit, etc.) will require a different treatment than an ant that is protein-feeding (dead insects/animals, dog food, garbage, etc.).

 

Below is a list of the 7 most common ants found in South Florida, and how difficult each can be to eliminate/prevent. Use this reference to help identify your specific ant problem.

Ghost Ants

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Difficulty to control: EASY

Actual Size: < 1/4 inch

Food: Sweet

Appearance: Dark head and body, translucent, (usually milky colored), abdomen. Can appear white on dark surfaces and black on white surfaces.

Colony size: 1,000-2,000

Commonly found: Trailing in kitchen or bathroom, near sweet foods like cakes, cookies, or coffee.

  • Commonly called "sugar ants", "piss ants", or "no-see-ums".

  • Named "Ghost Ant" because of its translucent abdomen.

  • Very communal ant. Shares most food foraged with colony and queen.

  • Easy to eliminate initially, but can be pesky and continue to return.

 

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Ghost ant control Hero Pest Control
Sugar ant control Hero Pest Solutions
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Difficulty to control: HARD

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White-footed Black Ants

Actual Size: 1/2 - 3/4 inch

Food: Sweet

Appearance: Dark head, body, and abdomen. Has white legs/feet but cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Colony size: 8,000-3,000,000

Commonly found: Trailing around the perimeter of the home, inside of kitchen/bathroom.

  • Very invasive species of ant.

  • Known for the huge population in their colonies.

  • Each colony has multiple queens.

  • Not native to Florida. Thought to originate in the Caribbean. Have only been in South Florida as early as 2001.

  • Very difficult to control initially, nearly impossible to control without a professional's help.

 

Big Headed Ants

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Difficulty to control: EASY

White footed black ant control Hero Pest Solutions
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Actual Size: 1/8 - 1/4 inch

Food: Protein, some sweet

Appearance: Reddish-brown. One class has a noticeably enlarged head, giving them their name. Also part of a group of ants called "paver ants", their hills can be spotted in driveways under concrete or paver stones, protruding through cracks or gaps.

Colony size: 10,000-50,000

Commonly found: Outside: hills can be found under pavers or concrete, protruding through cracks in concrete or along the edge of a home/driveway. Inside: hills can be found along baseboards or coming through cracks in the floor.

  • Known for their distinct ant hills. 

  • Named "Big Headed Ant" because of some of their enlarged heads.

  • 'Polygyne' ant: Can have multiple colonies with multiple queens.

  • Small numbers are easily manageable, but multiple colonies can be very difficult to control.

 

Paver ant control Hero Pest Solutions
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Difficulty to control: EASY

Crazy Ant control Hero Pest Solutions
Crazy ant control Hero Pest Solutions
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Black Crazy Ants

Actual Size: 1/4 - 1/2 inch

Food: Protein

Appearance: Black

Colony size: 2,000-5,000 

Commonly found: Outside near garbage with rotting fruit/meat. Pet food and dead animals/insects also attract them.

  • Called "crazy" because of their erratic and rapid movement.

  • They do not trail each other closely like most ants.

  • Mostly an outdoor pest, but can attempt to nest indoors.

  • Small numbers in their colonies make this ant pretty easy to manage.

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Caribbean Crazy Ants

AKA Tawny Ants

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Difficulty to control: HARD

Actual Size: 1/4 - 1/2 inch

Food: Protein

Appearance: Golden-brown or reddish-brown.

Colony size: 10,000-3,000,000+

Commonly found: Outside, piled up dead against walls or doors. Can make their way inside, usually piling up dead against baseboards or windows.

  • Known for their massive colony size, making controlling this ant difficult.

  • They pile up dead in such large numbers, they are commonly misidentified as dirt.

  • First wrongly identified in the late 90s in South Florida as a 'Caribbean crazy ant', which it's still commonly known as.

  • In the mid-2000s, was found in Texas and was identified as a new species of ant, renamed the 'Rasberry Ant'.

  • In the 2010s, it was found that both the 'Caribbean crazy ant' found in South Florida and the 'Rasberry ant' found in Texas were the same ant, the Tawny Ant, originally native to South America.

  • Today, the only places this ant is found in the US is South Florida and Texas.

  • The size of the colonies makes this ant very difficult to treat/prevent, and is near impossible to manage without professional help.

 

Caribbean Crazy ant control Hero Pest Solutions
Tawny ant control Hero Pest Solutions
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Difficulty to control: HARD

Carpenter ant control Hero Pest Solutions
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Actual Size: 1/2 - 1 inch

Food: Protein and sweet feeding

Appearance: Black, red, or black-red

Colony size: 2,000-10,000 

Commonly found: In and around damaged wood. This can include water damage inside, termite damage, a fallen/damaged tree, attic wood, etc.

  • Biggest ant in size in South Florida.

  • Usually most active from dusk to early evening.

  • Uses splinters of damaged wood as their home. While they don't cause the initial damage, their activity can cause more damage to the wood.

  • Known to have a painful bite.

  • Difficult to control: Their size makes them a very strong and resilient ant. They also live inside wood, which protects them from predators and sprays. 

Carpenter Ants

Fire Ants

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Difficulty to control: HARD

Actual Size: 1/4 - 1/2 inch

Food: Protein (insects or small animals they kill)

Appearance: Reddish-brown or bright red.

Colony size: 10,000-250,000

Commonly found: Outside only. Mounds and hills are commonly found in grassy areas.

  • They have a painful sting they use in defense. The stinger is located on their abdomen. They release venom that can be very painful.

  • They can hunt and kill their prey by stinging them. Common prey includes small animals like mice or birds, or larger insects like roaches.

  • Known for their large ant mounds commonly found in grass.

  • Difficult to control and prevent.

 

Fire Ant control Hero Pest Solutions
Fire Ant control Hero Pest Solutions

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Not seeing your ant? You may have termites! Check out the differences here