Currently, there are about 700 different species of ant living throughout North America – and each has its own preferences in habitat, food, behaviors, and more. Because of the diversity of the species, and the fact that each has its own set of survival skills many pest inspectors are calling “ants”, collectively, the number one pest in the industry.
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Fortunately, of these 700 species of ant, the majority of them do not prefer living in human habitats, and only a few dozen are likely to be found inside a home or other human residence, and many others (such as pavement ants) may only forage inside the home, while their nests are located outside.
That being said, there are a handful of ant species you absolutely do not want to find in the home – that can make life miserable for everyone living with them.
In particular, be wary of these five pest ant species:
1. Odorous House Ants: This is a moisture-loving species of ant that is often found in homes around hot water heaters and water pipes. Colonies of these pests can from 100-10,000 specimens.
Why They’re Notorious: When crushed, these ants release a pungent, unpleasant odor – one that’s generally described as smelling like rotten coconut.
2. White-Footed Ants: This is Asian-imported species is limited in range right now, with infestations concentrated to southern and central Florida. However, this species is already moving northwards and is expected to become a growing issue.
Why They’re Notorious: These ants create vast colonies! A single colony can have several hundred queens, multiple subcolonies, and more than a million ants in a colony. Eliminating an entire colony can be quite the battle!
3. Argentine Ants: Argentine ants are a moisture-loving species, commonly located under logs, debris, mulch, and concrete slabs. During the cold season, they often move indoors, preferring sweets, fats, and oils for food.
Why They’re Notorious: This species can grow their colonies to enormous sizes, with extremely large territories that can invade the home, outlying buildings, and even parked cars. Colonies can have multiple queens, many subcolonies, and colonies that number in the millions.
4. Pharaoh Ants: This ant is yellow-colored with a reddish abdomen, preferring to feed on grease and proteins. They’re commonly found around baseboards and in wall voids, especially of the area is warm and damp.
Why They’re Notorious: While their colonies are not generally as large as Argentine or White-Footed ants (up to 300,000 ants), studies have found that these ants can cross-contaminate surfaces with disease-causing bacteria. Pest sprays can actually prompt surviving worker ants to morph into queens, making the problem worse than ever!
5. Imported Fire Ants: These ants have red upper bodies and a dark brown or black abdomen. They readily eat a wide variety of foods, and build nests that represent large, round mounds of soil. Since they entered North America in the 1920s, these ants have spread rapidly, and currently infest more than 300 million acres of land.
Why They’re Notorious: This is one serious pest! Fire ant stings are painful and cause swelling – and have been connected to at least 80 human deaths. To those allergic to their stings, symptoms include sweating, slurred speech, chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and anaphylactic shock. On top of that, they’ve been found to be attracted to electrical fields, and can create a very real fire hazard in your home.