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Ant Control 101: What Kind of Ants Are in My House?

Published November 17th, 2020 by Vision Pest Control

While ants may not be the most dangerous pest inside your home, they are certainly one of the most annoying. They rarely come alone and their sheer numbers and dedication to foraging indoors create a homeowner's nightmare.

But what are the different types of ants? Do they all cause damage or are some just innocent insects looking for food?

Learn how to identify and treat the most common types of ants in your home.

The Ant Colony

In order to determine the severity of your ant problem and to better understand their survival system, it is important to learn how an ant colony works.

Ants are social creatures. This means they stay in large groups and depend on one another for survival. They are led by a queen who never leaves the nest and can live up to fifteen years. It is her role to lay the eggs that will populate her colony. 

The male ant dies shortly after mating. The worker ants are female and they have a variety of jobs including taking care of their young, building the nest, and searching for food.

When an ant caravan takes off seeking food, they leave a chemical trail of sorts. This helps them find their way back to the nest and also helps those coming behind them know where to go.

The key to controlling their raiding parties is making it difficult for them to get inside and then having little for them to feed on once there.

So who are these troops that show up uninvited on your kitchen counters and bathroom floors?

Odorous House Ants

In addition to being annoying, these pesky insects get their name because of the unpleasant smell they release when crushed. Some say it is similar to rotten coconut or bleu cheese. 

They are on the smaller side with black or brown bodies and light-colored legs. They are also one of the most common types of house ants. Their colony can have more than one queen and multiple nests.

They tend to build under wood or in landscaping debris. They also like to nest in cracks in bricks or walls. If the spots they choose are shrubs or plants near the exterior of your Pasadena home, they will go the short distance to get inside. That's just one reason to keep shrubs away from your home.

They enjoy feasting on sugary items and will also come inside looking for a dry space during wet weather. These ants are irritating because there can be so many of them, but they do not pose a threat. They are not known to sting or bite.

Argentine Ants

These small to medium brown ants are from Argentina, yes, but they have found a new home in the states. They particularly love the coast of California.

They are also called sugar ants and build super-sized colonies. As their name suggests, they are drawn to sugary food sources. They will also come indoors looking for water.

They can usually be found under mulch or wood debris and in cavities at the base of trees. Their colonies have several queens and multiple connecting nests. They are aggressive and territorial and will fight with surrounding ant colonies.

During the rainy season, they may seek a dry area inside your home to relocate their nest. They are also known to move indoors during a particularly dry spell.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants rank as some of the largest household ants and can reach up to 1/2" in length. As with most of their ant cohorts, they love to feed on sugar. They are also known to feast on protein and are drawn to leftover pet food.

They are probably the most bothersome ant and their name tells us the reason. These ants actually burrow into wood to build their nests. They create tunnels between nests through the wood. Depending on the size of the nest and the condition of the wood it can actually weaken the structural stability in the area over time.

The colonies often split their time between living inside and out. The nest with the queen ant is usually found outdoors, but the satellite nests are often built indoors to be closer to the food source. They are often found in wood under insulation, or attics and crawlspaces in your Burbank dwelling.

Ants aren't the biggest source of concern though when it comes to wood damage. Termites can cause serious damage to your home. Here is how to tell if you have a termite problem.

Common Types of Ants: Prevention

While it may not be possible to completely prevent any ants from making their way inside your home, there are definitely steps you can take to make it harder to get in and find what they want.

They can't come in without an entry point. It doesn't take much, but you should still do your best to chalk around all windows and doors. Check screens for any holes and repair or replace any found. As mentioned above, keep shrubs and debris away from the outside of your home.

You can also deter them from getting inside with a few home remedies. Ants do not like the smell of lemons. Using lemon juice or leaving the peelings where you think they are getting in will turn them away.

Vinegar is another smell they avoid. Make a solution with equal parts of water and spray around doors and windows to discourage them from coming in.

One of the best preventive measures you can do is keep food out of sight and cleaned up. Ants are especially partial to sugar but will take advantage of any food source left where they can get to it. Clean up all counters and put all food away.

Despite your best efforts, sometimes you just need outside help. Here are the signs you need a professional pest control service.

Small, but Challenging

While all the common types of ants found in your home are not the worse threat you will face, they are still irritating and challenging to deal with.

The good news there are preventive steps that will lessen their impact on your home.

For those times when you fear an infestation or have other pest control needs, we are your trained and experienced resource for the Southern California area. Please contact us to find out more about our services.


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