f you live in Florida, you know ants are common visitors inside our homes. Even in the cleanest house, it’s not unusual to find a trail of these little six-legged creatures making their way along the floor, across a countertop or up a wall. Outside, ants are even more prevalent. You can’t take more than a couple steps in most yards without stepping over an ant pile.
Florida is home to nearly 20 different kinds of ants. Here are a few you’re likely to encounter…
Florida Carpenter Ants
Florida carpenter ants are fairly large by ant standards, up to 11mm (about .5”) long. Their orange and black bodies make them pretty easy to identify. Florida carpenter ants are just as comfortable building nests outdoors in decayed wood, trees and shrubs as they are indoors in attics, ceilings, floors and other secluded areas. They primarily forage for food at night and eat insect honeydew, plant juices, insects or any kind of sweets they can find. They are known to bite when threatened and can even spray formic acid.
Red Imported Fire Ants
Red imported fire ants are more aggressive than most ant species and will gladly sting you if you mistakenly walk too near their mounds. They grab a hold of their prey (or sometimes your ankles) by biting and then sting using their abdomens to inject toxin. The location of the bite may be sore and/or itch for several days. For people who are hypersensitive, there can be even greater risks. While red imported fire ants feed mostly on young plants, they can attack and kill small animals. These ants have blackish to reddish bodies with copper colored heads. Red imported fire ants prefer to nest under logs or rocks, but often make dome-shaped mounds in fields or yards.
Mounds of sand collecting along the edges of your driveway or between cracks in the sidewalk? It could be bigheaded ants. These ants love to cover their foraging trails with dirt and debris, so sometimes they are confused with subterranean termites which also create mud tubes as they forage. Inside the home, the dirt piles made by the bigheaded ant can be a nuisance. As their name implies, some of these ants have big heads compared to other members of their colony. They are referred to as major workers or soldiers, whereas the members with the smaller heads are called minor workers. Bigheaded ants are omnivorous and will feed on sweets, other insects and soil invertebrates.
Rover ants are one of the smallest pest ants you may encounter. They only grow up to 1.5-2 mm (1/16-1/12”) long and are dark brown or black in color. They usually nest in mulch or under debris lying on the ground and, like many ant species, feed on the honeydew produced by sap-sucking insects. In the home, these ants are attracted to areas with moisture such as bathrooms or kitchens. They can also become a nuisance outside when large numbers of the winged swarmers end up accidentally in swimming pools.
Ants are a fact of life in Florida, but Florida Pest Control can help eliminate them from your home and lawn. Contact us today to make an appointment.