Most customers refer to these ants as “sugar ants”. They are gray or brown and can be in colonies that number in the hundreds of thousands. Little wonder that oftentimes foraging ant trails can be an inch or two wide. Some connected colonies in South America and Europe stretch for hundreds or thousands of miles! This ant is well adapted to urban and suburban environments and will persist where other species will not thrive. Argentine Ant colonies can quickly dominate an area, even pushing fire ant colonies out. Though they don’t sting like fire ants do, Argentine’s attack in a different way…they starve out the competition. Because of sheer numbers, they quickly overtake food supplies leaving little for other ant species.
Fire Ants are very aggressive and very active and have been known to kill young wildlife. The two main species of Fire Ants that Georgians deal with are the Southern Imported and Red Imported Fire Ants. An easy way to tell the two apart is by looking at the mounds. Our native Southern Fire Ant builds a sandy type mound, while the Red Imported builds the harder, dome-shaped mound that when disturbed seems to boil out thousands of aggressive ants. Red Imported Ant colonies can have 300,000-500,000 workers and can forage in a radius of over 100 yards. Both species can be hunters and scavengers, depending on the most readily available food source at the time.
Carpenter Ants are some of the largest ants in the United States. They are beneficial because they aid in the breakdown of cellulose debris. When these ants become active inside a home or other structure, they go beyond acceptable and normal behavior and become a pest. The workers vary in size from ¼” to ¾” in size. Their coloring is usually black or very dark but can have some red or brown coloration. Foraging workers are equipped with large mandibles and can bite or give a strong pinch. Usually these ants will be found in wood that is partially decayed or weakened by water in such places as: stumps, telephone poles, and fence posts - they may also excavate sound wood. A nest can contain 2,000 to 3,000 individuals and take about three to six years to form swarmers. A tell-tale sign of Carpenter Ant infestation is wood frass and insect parts being pushed out of the nest site.
A common interior infesting ant, Acrobats get their name from the trademark habit of lifting their heart shaped abdomen over their head and thorax when excited or disturbed. Signs of Acrobat Ant infestation are pieces of Styrofoam or other insulation products falling out of cracks, perhaps in the ceiling as they find materials to make a nest. Some species may be found in decaying wood.
Another common household ant is the Odorous House Ant. Often confused with the Argentine Ant, the Odorous House Ant has one very easy differentiating feature. If one is crushed, the body gives off the pungent odor of coconuts. Workers forage along regular trails looking for honeydew, one of their primary foods. After a heavy rainfall the honeydew may be washed away, causing the ants to venture inside looking for food.