Ants have been named the #1 nuisance pest in the United States. Ants are social insects that live in colonies. They enter our homes looking for food and shelter. Ants primarily look for foods that are sugary and sweet or greasy and protein-based. Once they find food, they leave a pheromone trail behind that other ants will follow.

There are over 700 species of ants in the United States. At least 20 of these species are known to infect homes and other structures. There are several species of ants that are common to our area. The 5 most common are:


Fire Ant
Fire ants build large, raised mounds. They prefer to nest in open, disturbed areas. They commonly nest in yards, fields, and roadsides. Fire ants are known to devastate local insect populations and small wildlife. They are also known to eliminate ground nesting bird species because they attack their newly hatched nestlings. Fire ants cause painful stings when they bite and will bite humans when threatened.


Carpenter Ant
Carpenter ants are black in color. They are nocturnal and will exit their nests about 15 minutes after sunset in large numbers. Carpenter ants will invade kitchens in the summer months in search of food and water. They will invade structures if moisture is present. Carpenter ants can be very destructive to homes.


Argentine Ant
Argentine ants are light brown in color. They can easily squeeze through small cracks and holes. Argentine ants are known to set up colonies in the ground, in concrete walls, between boards and timbers, and among the belongings in your home. These ants are commonly seen in homes and will enter them in search of food and water. They are especially common during dry or hot weather or after a heavy rainfall. Argentine ants exhibit strong trailing behavior and can exist in high numbers. They move very quickly and are named among the world’s 100 worst animal invaders.


Acrobat Ant
Acrobat ants are dark colored with a heart shaped abdomen that they will hold up in the air like a flag when disturbed. They will nest inside decaying wood. Acrobat ants form single file trails and leave behind small sawdust piles that are similar to those of carpenter ants. These ants produce a mild sting when they bite. Acrobat ants may move into your attic to incubate their eggs and will tunnel into water damaged wood.


Odorous House Ant
Odorous house ants are dark colored and give off a strong rotten coconut smell when they are crushed. They exist in large numbers where there is plenty of moisture. They form trails similar to Argentine ants. Odorous house ants are one of the most difficult pests to get rid of from structures. They will often establish their colonies in earth filled porches and block walls.


Since ants are one of the most difficult pests to get rid of, what can you do to keep them from invading your home in the first place? Check out these tips for keeping the ants out of your personal space.


  • Learn where ants are common and routinely inspect those areas for activity.
  • Ants will frequently infest kitchens because of the ample supply of food and water.
  • Ants are also commonly found in bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms, basements, attics, inside walls, and in and around HVAC units.


  • Ants will come into your home in search of food for themselves and their young.
  • Keep your kitchen clean and tidy.
  • Wipe down counters routinely.
  • Sweep on a regular basis.
  • Clean up crumbs and spills immediately.
  • Store your food in air-tight containers.
  • Keep ripe fruit in the fridge.
  • Wipe down sticky jars such as jelly or jam.
  • Use lids on trashcans and empty them regularly.
  • Make sure sink drains and filters are cleaned regularly.
  • Enclose mulch and compost heaps when possible.


  • Reduce moisture and standing water around your home.
  • Repair leaky pipes and check under your sinks routinely for drips.
  • Use a dehumidifer in damp basements, crawlspaces, and attics.
  • Consider enclosing your crawlspace to eliminate moisture.
  • Make sure gutters and downspouts are clear and functional so water flows away from foundations.
  • Paint or seal any exposed wood before it gets wet.
  • Replace or remove any water damaged wood.


  • Ants can squeeze through extremely small openings.
  • Inspect the outside of your  home for any easy access points and eliminate them.
  • If you are having trouble identifying the access point, follow the trail of ants.
  • Once you find the entry point, clean around it with detergent to remove the pheromone trail that attracts fellow ants.
  • Trim trees and bushes away from the exterior of your home.
  • Seal any cracks and crevices in the outside of your home with silicone-based caulk. Make sure to check around areas where utility pipes come into your home.
  • Remove dead stumps from your property.
  • Store firewood off the ground and at least 20 feet from your home.
  • Flying ant season begins in spring/summer. During this time of year keep doors and windows closed as much as possible.


  • Pet food and water bowls also attract ants.
  • Keep pet food bowls clean and clean up any spilled food or water immediately.
  • Don’t leave pet food bowls out overnight.
  • Store dry pet food in sealed plastic containers instead of bags.
  • Inspect dog and cat doors to make sure pests can’t get through them.


Eliminating ants can be an uphill battle. If they aren’t properly treated, the infestation can continue to grow despite your best efforts. Some ants like carpenter ants can cause serious property damage. Other ants like fire ants can pose a serious health threat to your family. Other species, while not necessarily a threat to your family, can still contaminate your food. If you suspect you have an ant problem call a professional pest control company. A professional can identify what species of ant you have which is the first step in eliminating these nuisance pests. They can also find the entry points and provide you with a thorough and comprehensive treatment plan.