swarm of carpenter ants in lenoir nc

What type of ants are common in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, there are several types of ants that are found living in or around homes and businesses. Keep reading to learn more about these species.

 

Acrobat Ants

acrobat ants on a log outside lenoir home

Acrobat ants range in color from light yellowish-brown to black, and some may be multicolored. Adult workers grow to about 1/8th of an inch in length; the queens are larger in size and grow to about 3/8th of an inch. Acrobat ants have many unique characteristics that make them easily identifiable, the most notable being their ability to hold their abdomen up above the rest of their body in an acrobatic display. Acrobat ants have a heart-shaped abdomen and they will emit a foul-smelling odor if threatened.

Argentine Ants

argentine ants on a kitchen floor

Argentine ants are shiny dark brown to shiny black in color.  They are a smaller species of ants; adults grow only to between 1/16th and ¼ of an inch in length. They are often recognized by their massive colonies; a single colony can have hundreds of thousands of workers and hundreds of queens living in it. When the weather outside becomes less than comfortable for these ants, too wet or too dry, they will move inside, traveling along tree branches and utility wires.

Big Headed Ants

big headed ant on a leaf

Big headed ants range in color from yellow to dark reddish brown in color. What these ants look like depends on if they are a major work or a minor worker. Major workers are larger in size and their appearance is where the species received their name from, however they only make up 1% of the foraging ants found in the colony. Major workers are twice as large as minor workers and grow to between 3 and 4mm in length, their bodies are covered in sparse long hairs, their head is disproportionately larger than its body. Major ants have large jaws that they use to defend the colony against threats and to cracks large seeds or open other food sources that they find. Minor workers are the smaller in size; they grow only to about 2mm in length. Minor ants are responsible for feeding the colony, taking care of immature ants, and helping to build the nest.  Big headed ants are omnivores and their foraging trails can be seen traveling along the surface of ground, on trees, and along walkways.

Carpenter Ants

carpenter ants searching for food in lenoir

Carpenter ants are large ants that may appear black, red, yellowish, or a combination of those colors.  Adult workers can grow to between 1/8th and 1/2 of an inch in length; queens grow larger in size.  They have an oval shaped segmented body; workers have large, strong mandibles. Carpenter ants can be distinguished from other ant species by their one node waist and their thorax that has an evenly rounded upper surface. Unlike most other ants, Carpenter ants are a destructive species of ant and will damage wood (including furniture and structural wood) as they create nests inside of homes and other buildings.

Fire Ants

fire ant inside NC home

Fire ants are dark reddish-brown in color and have segmented bodies that only grow to between 1/8th and 3/8th of an inch in length.  Fire ants create large nesting mounds; the mounds are flat and have an oblong- irregular shape, and are between two and four-square feet in size. Fire ants are known for their aggressive nature; they will not hesitate to defend themselves and their nest from a perceived threat. Fire ants work together, attacking victims in large groups, repeatedly stinging and injecting venom into their victims.

Ghost Ants

ghost ant on a a blade of grass

Ghost ants have a dark head and thorax and pale colored legs, abdomen, and antennae- giving them a “ghost-like” appearance.  Small ants, adults grow only to be about 1.3 to 1.5 mm in length.  Ghost ants are related to odorous house ants and will give off a rotten coconut smell if they are crushed. Inside these ants are most often found invading kitchen and bathroom areas.

Little Black Ants

little black ant outside lenoir home looking for food

Shiny black in color, little black ants are very small, about 1/16 of an inch.  They can be identified by their pace, they are very slow-moving ants.  They also travel along established foraging trails.  Outside, they nest in moist areas, including stumps, mulch, and other debris piled up.  They may move indoors in search of food, preferring sweets, meats, and grease.  Once inside, they may be found in wall voids, under floors, and crevices. 

Odorous House Ants

odorous house ant on a white background

Odorous house ants are dark brown to black in color and when you look at them from the side you can see that their thorax is uneven in shape.  They are a small species of ant; adults grow to be about 1/8th of an inch in length. These ants do not bite or sting, but they do produce a very foul rotten coconut-like smell when they are crushed. Odorous house ants often enter into homes while foraging for food or during periods of heavy rains.

Pavement Ants

pavement ants on a kitchen floor in lenoir

Adult pavement ants can range in color from dark brown to black; workers grow to about 1/8th of an inch in length. The pavement ant’s head and thorax have grooved parallel lines and the thorax has a pair of small spines extending out backwards from the rear end. These insects are usually found living outside; nesting in the cracks of driveways, under and along sidewalks, under concrete slabs, and under foundations. They enter into homes through cracks in a foundation or concrete slab; pavement ants can become a big problem inside of homes with dirt basements.

Pharaoh Ants

yellow-brown ant in north carolina

Pale red of yellowish-brown in color, worker Pharaoh ants have abdomens that are dark in color than the rest of their body.  They grow to a tiny 1/16th of an inch in length. Queens are a bit darker and color and are double in the size of the workers- growing up to 1/8th of an inch in length. A unique fact about Pharaoh ants is that they prefer to nest inside structures as opposed to outside. 

Are ants dangerous?

It depends on the species.  Some ants are simply nuisance pests that infest homes and businesses but that don’t inflict damage to property or risk the health and safety of people.  Though not considered dangerous, infestations of these types of ants should still be addressed. 

Unlike pavement ants or odorous house ants, carpenter ants are wood-destroying pests.  Though they do not eat wood like termites, they tunnel in it to create galleries or nesting areas.  Their excavation efforts can make wood weak and even compromise the structural integrity of the house or building. 

Other species of ants have the potential to cause serious health risks for people; big headed ants for example are a host for tapeworm. Pharaoh ants carry and transmit salmonella and streptococcus and can become very problematic inside of hospitals where they invade patient wounds and IV lines.  Fire ant stings can be dangerous for people and pets.

How do you get rid of ants?

Using DIY ant control solutions found on Pinterest or that are sold on the market are not a good idea for a couple of reasons.  First, if mixed incorrectly or not used property, products can be dangerous to people and pets.  Secondly, it can make the problem worse.  If you don’t identify and resolve the source of the infestation, the problem will not go away.  Oftentimes, these DIY methods only kill the ants you see and not the entire colony.  Also, they may cause the ants to scatter, growing the infestation to other areas.  To get rid of ants, we recommend contacting a pest control company that has the knowledge and tools to eradicate the entire colony.  At A-1 Pest Control, we offer highly effective ant control services in Lenoir and throughout our NC service area, and encourage homeowners to implement a year-round home pest control program that stops ants AND other common house-infesting pests.  Contact us today to learn more!

How do you prevent ants?

Ants are often noted as the number one pest problem in the United States and as such, they are not going away anytime soon.  In order to keep ants out of your home, we recommend implementing the following ant prevention tips:

  • Limit areas of moisture found around your home by ensuring that gutters are free of debris like sticks and bird nests and that they are working properly to direct water away from your home.
  • Fix any leaky outdoor or indoor faucets, fixtures, and pipes.
  • Remove structural wood from your home that has been damaged by water, replacing it with sound wood.
  • Remove piles of organic debris, fallen trees, downed tree limbs, and like items from your property.
  • Make sure that outdoor trash cans have tight fitting or locking lids on them; place the trash cans up off of the ground and away from the exterior of your home
  • Cut back trees, bushes, and other landscaping back away from the outside of your home.
  • Place a stone or crushed rock barrier between any mulch or grass and the foundation of your home.
  • Inspect your home’s foundation and exterior walls and seal any cracks and crevices that are found. Caulk spaces that are found around exterior windows and doors; make sure door sweeps are placed underneath of exterior doors.
  • Check screens that are in doors and window making sure that they are completely intact. 

Helpful Ant Articles

Why Professional Ant Control Beats DIY Every Time

Why Carpenter Ants Are So Dangerous To North Carolina Homes

Recommended Program For This Pest

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