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Types of Ants

Most people have come face to face with an ant. Some of us have even went to battle against an ant invasion. But do you really know which type of ant you’ve encountered? With more than 12,000 known species worldwide and 1000 in the United States, it’s a little tricky to keep track of them. We’ve made a list of the most common ant invaders you could meet.

Types of Ants infographic

Acrobat Ants

Acrobat Ants

Grab your popcorn and enjoy the show. Acrobat ants are talented little bugs who can raise their abdomen above their heads. They perform this balancing act when they feel excited or threatened. Though you won’t find them in any upcoming shows, you could spot them in your home.

Acrobat ants enjoy areas with plenty of moisture and typically nest in moist wood. If your home has any water damage, it could attract them. Keep an eye out for mold or peeling paint.

Acrobat ants aren’t too picky when it comes to food, enjoying sweets and protein-packed fuel.

Their distinct heart-shaped abdomen helps with identifying them. These ants range from light to dark brown and are roughly 3mm in length. They can pop up all across the United States, so be on the lookout.

Argentine Ants

Argentine Ant

It takes two to tango, and these ants are ready to dance. Argentine ants like to shake things up by having multiple queens in each colony. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that their colonies can become quite large.

Originally found in areas including Argentina and southern Brazil, these ants have relocated to the United States. If you live in the Southeast, California or Hawaii, there’s a good chance you’ve seen these ants.

Argentine ants prefer wet environments, which makes the space under plants and logs a great location to nest. They also need access to foods that are sweet, fatty, or oily.

When it gets cold, they start heading indoors. The best way to spot these brown, shiny ants is from their trails.

Though small, ranging from 2.2-2.8mm in length, they can be seen climbing trees and buildings just hoping to find a way inside.

Big-Headed Ants

Big-Headed Ants

It's not an ego thing. We promise we’re not being mean, this really is the ant’s name. You probably already guessed it, but these ants are known for their large heads. Big-headed ants divide their workers into two categories—major and minor.

The major ants, who are soldiers, give these ants their name. They are typically 1.6mm in length, and their heads tower over their bodies. Minor ants are half the size of major ants. Their job is to find food for the colony, which enjoys insects, protein, sweets, seeds, and grease.

Big-headed ants nest in soil typically beneath stones and logs. They also won’t turn down space in a potted plant. These reddish brown ants can be found all across the United States, so keep your eyes open.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ant

A highly destructive home wrecker. Just like us, we know you’re picturing ants with tiny hammers. Despite their name, carpenter ants will not help you with your next house renovation. In fact, they are notorious for damaging wooden structures.

Unlike termites, they won’t eat wood, but they do like to nest within it. In order to fuel their excavation projects, they feed on insects, sweets, grease, and meat. Though they typically nest outdoors in wet, hollow or decaying wood, they have no problem moving their construction team inside.

Carpenter ants will put down roots throughout the United States but are most common in northern states.

These ants can grow up to 13mm in length and are typically black but can have a red tint. Carpenter ants are a little messy and don’t mind leaving their wood shavings behind, which will help you identify them.   

Crazy Ants

Crazy Ant

Just watch them's crazy. Crazy ants like to march to the beat of their own drum. They get their name from their erratic movements.

Though these ants are willing to follow a trail, they also enjoy roaming without direction in search of food. In the summer, they are drawn to protein-packed meals. However, in the spring and fall their sweet tooth shows.

Despite their small size, ranging from 2.2-3mm, they have long legs and antennae. Their black-brown bodies are covered in coarse hair.

Crazy ants aren’t picky and can live in both wet and dry climates. As long as they’re kept out of the cold, they will be happy little bugs.

Crazy ants sometimes make appearances all across the United States but tend to stay in Florida and along the Gulf Coast.

Their travelling style isn’t the only reason they’re crazy. These ants like to spend time near electrical equipment, so don’t be shocked to find them in your air conditioning unit. 

Fire Ants

Fire Ants

A pain in the butt (and other places too). You don’t want to upset these hotheaded fire ants. These ants get their name from their painful sting and reddish-brown color.

Their habitat preference only adds to their fiery image. Fire ants like to live in warm, sunny places and won’t build their mounds in the shade. Fire ant mounds are composed of loose soil and typically don’t have a hole in the center. They can be found in the southern parts of the United States as well as in California.

When the weather turns hot and dry, fire ants will sometimes move indoors in search of food and water. They enjoy eating plant and animal matter and hope to find food with a lot of protein.

Despite their small size, ranging from 1.6-5mm, they are very aggressive. They won’t hesitate to fight back if you stumble onto their territory.   

Ghost Ants

Ghost Ants

A real bug-a-boo. If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, it may just be ghost ants. These ants get their name from their appearance. Their pale legs and abdomen, as well as their dark head and thorax, are bound to give you a fright.

Ghost ants settle down in nests in the ground using tree branches and stones as protection.

These tiny bugs are typically 1.3-1.5mm, which makes it easy for them to sneak into your home. Once inside, they creep around making nests in wall voids and between kitchen cabinets.

Ghost ants like a variety of treats including dead insects and sweets, so make sure you hide your candy. If you live in Florida and Hawaii, there’s a good chance these ants could be haunting you.

Little Black Ants

Little Black Ants

This one won’t leave you guessing. These ants are little, 1.5-2mm, and black.

Unlike crazy ants, little black ants want to follow well-defined paths. Their trails are scented making travel easy from their nest to food and water sources.

They like to build their homes in dark areas like under rocks and landscape mulch. They want to be outside, but that won’t stop them from finding their way into your home.

If they find their favorite treats which include sweets, fats, and oils, they are likely to stick around for a little bit. Woodwork and wall voids will become their new favorite spot.

These little bugs can be found throughout the United States, but they consider themselves Californians or East Coast bugs.

Odorous House Ants

Odorous House Ant

What's that smell? You may want to bring a pair of nose plugs to your next meeting with these ants. Odorous house ants are known for their unpleasant smell when crushed.

These ants come in shades of dark brown and black. They are typically between 2.4 and 3.3mm in length.

Odorous house ants have a habit of moving from nest to nest. They like living in exposed soil under wood or debris. However, when it rains they pack their bags and begin the journey to a new home. Sometimes this leads them into your home. Once inside, they look for places near water to settle down.

Despite their stinky smell, they prefer eating sweets and honeydew. They also won’t turn down dead insects and meat. Since these ants are found in all regions of the United States, there’s always a chance you’ll be hit with their smelly fumes.  

Pavement Ants

Pavement Ant

Leave no stone unturned. Pavement ants like to make their homes under stones and between cracks in pavement. The piles of soil they leave behind make it easy to spot their location.

These dark brown and black ants can grow up to 3.3mm.

Like many ants on this list, they prefer eating sweets, dead insects, and greasy food. Your crumbs and trash attract pavement ants into your home. They’ll slip into cracks in the foundation and build nests in walls and insulation.

Pavement ants don’t favor one area of the United States, so it’s likely you may spot them. Be careful where you step, you might just stomp on an ant.

Pharaoh Ants

Headdresses not included. They walk like an Egyptian. Okay, so maybe they don’t do the sand dance, but pharaoh ants are believed to originate from Africa. They can now be found throughout most of the United States, but they have a soft spot for the South.

These yellow ants range from 1.5-2mm in length.

They don’t build pyramids, but they do prefer to nest in protected areas. You can usually find them in warm, but shaded areas or under debris.

When they move indoors, they follow the same pattern. They choose warm and hidden areas like cabinet voids and behind baseboards.

Pharaoh ants look for food sources that contain oils, protein, or are sweet. Even if they are annoying, we promise they won’t be able to put a mummy’s curse on you.

Though there are many ants in the world, the ones on this list are most likely to stop by for a visit. They may share many traits, but each ant has its own habits and identity. Ants are known to invade, and when they do, you need to know what you’re up against. When the battle begins, we want to help. For an effective and more environmentally friendly option, check out Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective™ Pest Control products. 


  • I like the sense of humor in this post😁

  • Thank you for the information! Other posts give a photo of different ants, but do not tell you which one is which. Again, thank you!

    Traci Phillips

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