Approximately 700 ant species currently reside in the United States, but only about 25 species infest structures.
Ants have 3 distinct body regions: head, thorax and abdomen.
Species identification is made by looking at distinct characteristics including size, color, antennae and the number of nodes located between the abdomen and thorax.
There are numerous ant species found in Knoxville, TN. Being able to identify the species helps to understand their habits and nesting behavior and ultimately assists with the control and elimination of the ant problem.
Odorous House Ants
The workers are 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch long with all workers being the same size. Coloring is brown to black. The antennae have 12 segments without a club. The petiole has one hidden node.
Odorous House Ants can develop very large colonies with multiple queens. Nests can be found on the exterior under rocks and logs but can nest indoors near sources of warmth and moisture. They prefer sweets but will also feed on proteins such as dead insects and grease.
The workers are 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch long with coloring dark brown to black. The antennae have 12 segments with a 3 segmented club. The petiole has two nodes. They have grooves on the head and thorax with a stinger on the last abdominal segment. Queens and reproductives have wings and are twice as large as the workers.
Most colonies are found under sidewalks, slabs of buildings and large rocks. Small piles of soil are normally found near expansion joints in sidewalks or cracks in the interior slab of a structure. Pavement ants feed on a wide variety of foods including sweets and proteins.
The workers are about an 1/8 of an inch long with coloring brown to black, but a few are multicolored with the head or abdomen being darker than the remainder of the body. The petiole has 2 nodes. The abdomen is heart shaped which they raise over the head and thorax when disturbed.
Acrobat ants will feed on honeydew from aphids as well as dead insects on the exterior. They prefer nesting in softened or decayed wood. They will normally enter homes along electrical lines, telephone lines, limbs touching the structure or along fences and decks, but can enter through a multitude of small openings. On the interior they will feed on sweets and high protein foods. They will nest around window and door framing, wall voids and baseboards. They have been known to strip insulation from electrical and telephone wires causing short circuits.
The workers are 1/12 to 1/8 of an inch long with light to dark brown coloring. The petiole has 1 node. The antennae have 12 segments and are elbowed.
Argentine ant workers prefer sweets, but gather protein based foods to feed the queen and larvae. Argentine ants do not swarm to create new nests. New nests are created around the original nest and thus the queen remains attached to the old colony. This allows argentine ants to quickly expand into massive colonies with possibly hundreds of queens.
Little Black Ants
Little black ant workers are about 1/16 of an inch long and can be dark brown to black in color and shiny. Queens can be about an 1/8 of an inch in length. The petiole has 2 nodes. The antennae have 12 segments and end with a 3 segmented club.
Little black ants will feed on a wide variety of foods including sweets, dead insects, and meats and other proteins. They normally nest outside under rocks, dead logs and cement cracks, but can be found nesting on the interior of a structure in wall voids and under carpeting. They can have large colonies with 2 or more queens in each colony.
Crazy ant workers are 2.3-3 mm in length. The antennae are 12-segmented without a club and extremely long. The petiole has 1 node. The legs are extremely long. The easiest way to identify a crazy ant is by the erratic and fast movement of the workers without following a defined trail.
They will feed on a wide variety of foods including live and dead insects, household foods, and honeydew. Crazy ants can nest a good distance from the foraging area. Nesting sites include trash, cavities of trees, decaying wood and in the soil.
Pharaoh ants are about 1/16 of an inch in length. They are yellow to orange in color. The antennae are 12-segmented with a 3-segmented club. The petiole has 2 nodes.
They will feed on sweets, fats and proteins. Nesting sites include baseboards, wall voids, insulation, curtain rods, folds of sheets and paper. The colonies are very mobile and can consist of multiple queens and up to 300,000 workers. Pharaoh ant colonies do not swarm but multiply by "budding" in which part of an existing colony move and carry a portion of the brood with them.
Pharaoh ants can pose a significant risk when found in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. They have the potential to spread disease causing organisms such as Salmonella, Streptococcus and Staphylococcus. Pharaoh ants have been known to enter wound dressings and intravenous tubes of patients in hospitals.
Carpenter ants range in size from 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch and black in color. The antennae are elbowed and the petiole has 1 node.
Carpenter ants will feed on sweets, meats, dog and cat food and other insects. On the exterior they tend to nest in logs, stumps and hollow trees. Common indoor nesting sites preferred include wood damaged by moisture including areas around bathrooms, dishwashers, and leaking roofs. They are most active at night and following a trail to find the nest is best achieved between 10PM and 2AM.
Indoor nest normally originated from 1 or more parent colonies on the exterior. The workers will travel between the parent colony on the exterior and the satellite colony on the interior. To achieve elimination, the satellite and parent colonies must be eliminated.
Asian Needle Ants
Asian needle ants are about 1/5 of an inch in length and dark brown to black in color. The legs and mandibles are light brown to orangish in color. The petiole has 1 node.
Asian needle ants will feed on a variety of arthropods such as termites, spiders, centipedes, cockroaches and beetles. They will also forage for sweets and other food particles. They tend to nest in leaf litter, rotted logs and underneath rocks. There colony sizes tend to range from small up to large with thousands of individuals.
People allergic to insect stings should be aware when in areas inhabited by Asian needle ants because the venom is more likely to cause an allergic reaction than the venom of a honey bee.
Bigheaded ants are about 1/16 to an 1/8 of an inch in length and yellowish or light to dark brown in color. They have 2 nodes on the petiole. They have 12-segmented antennae with a 3-segmented club. They have two sizes of workers called major and minor. Major workers have a very large head while the minor workers have a head proportional to the body.
Bigheaded ants feed on sweets and live or dead insects. They will forage indoors as well as tend aphids for honeydew. Nests are normally located in shaded areas in the soil under shrubs and vegetation. The nests are small and the soil is deposited in a crater-shaped mound.
Large Yellow Ants
Large yellow ants are 3/16 of an inch in length and when crushed smell like lemons. They have 1 node on the petiole.
Their diet mainly consists of honeydew from subterranean sucking insects. They will nest in the soil under rocks, logs, patio stones and under the concrete slab of a structure. When nesting under a concrete slab you may notice large amounts of soil pile up as they excavate galleries.
Imported Fire Ants
Fire ant workers range in size from 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch in length and dark brown. It has a 2-segmented antennal club with 2 nodes on the petiole.
Fire ant nests are easily identified by the visible mounds associated with the colony. The most important issue associated with fire ants is related to the sting which includes burning and itching. A pustule will develop afterward that may take a week or so to heal.
Ant Solutions Knoxville, TN
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