Ant Identification

What are ants?

Ants are common insect invaders into Illinois yards, homes, and businesses. They are insects, closely related to bees and wasps; all three are social insects and live together in large nests, working to ensure the success of their individual colonies.

Since ants are such a common occurrence in our indoor and outdoor spaces, identifying them is quite easy. While their appearance will vary by species, in general, ants have the following physical characteristics: a three-segmented body, narrow waist, short antennae, and chewing mouthparts. Reproductive members of an ant colony are winged and often referred to by people as flying ants.

close up of a carpenter ant

Ants that live in Illinois and often find a way onto our properties include pavement ants, carpenter ants, Pharaoh ants, and odorous house ants. Each species has its own behaviors and nesting habits that make them unique and problematic.

Are ants dangerous?

If given a reason, any ant can defend itself by biting, but in most cases, being bitten by an ant is not a threat. What is a threat is the ant’s ability (depending on the species) to contaminate food, spread bacteria and diseases, and damage the structure of our homes.

Carpenter ants are always unwanted in our homes because they can decide to stay and nest within our home’s structural wood. Pharaoh ants are vectors of diseases and bacteria that can cause serious illnesses in people like streptococcus.

In addition to causing us health and structural problems, ants are annoying to deal with. They invade in large numbers, making trails throughout our homes, and are difficult to eradicate.

Why do I have an ant problem?

The hunt for food and water by ants is seemingly endless. Ants live together in colonies with thousands upon thousands of members, so the need for food is always great. Worker ants leave the colony each day to forage for food; once they discover a food source, they will emit pheromones to alert other colony members.

Any property that offers ants a source of food will experience problems with these pests. Trash cans, recycling bins, gardens, fruit trees, and pet food are where ants regularly forage for food and what attracts them to our properties.

What makes ants especially problematic in our yards and homes is that ants like to feed on many of the same sweets and proteins that we do. Any small spill or crumb in our house is all it takes for ants to feel like we are welcoming them into our family!

Where will I find ants?

When you see ants wandering around your yard or home, they are out gathering food to bring back to the colony. Ants have a unique anatomy that makes them excellent foragers; they have two stomachs — one for eating and one for carrying food.

As ants are out searching for food, they often end up inside our homes. Once inside, if it offers them a warm, safe place to nest near food and moisture, they usually stay. Common ant nesting sites include structural wood (carpenter ants), wall voids near water pipes, spaces under floors, and inside crawl spaces. A single ant colony often has multiple nesting sites; the main nest is outside, and smaller satellite nests are located both outside and inside our structures.

In addition to gathering food, another way that ants (unintentionally) alert us to their presence is when the winged reproductives swarm from a mature ant colony. Winged females and males will leave the nest at the same time to find a mate and start a new nest. Seeing winged ants around your yard or home is an indicator that a nest is nearby.

How do I get rid of ants?

Don’t allow ants to become regular visitors to your Illinois yard or home. Partner with a professional, and keep these pests out of your house and away from your food and family! At Aerex Pest Control, we have over 70 years of pest control experience!

Our family-owned and operated business is committed to helping people protect their properties from ants and other pests. Through thorough inspections and biannual treatments, our professionals will stop ants in their tracks. If you would like to discover more about our residential or commercial pest control options, reach out to us today!

How can I prevent ants in the future?

We have put together a list of practical prevention tips to help you keep ants out of your home.

  • Keep hungry ants out of your trash cans, recycling bins, and compost bins with the help of locking lids.
  • Make sure all trash bags are placed inside of trash containers until trash day.
  • Keep ants out of your pet’s food by picking up uneaten pet food each day and cleaning around the areas they eat.
  • Regularly check underneath sinks to inspect for leaky pipes that could create extra moisture that attracts ants.
  • Store fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator and keep pantry items in hard-sided containers with airtight lids.
  • Maintain a tidy home; regularly vacuum and clean the kitchen.
  • Keep ants from finding a way into your house in the first place by inspecting its exterior and sealing or repairing any openings you discover.

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