While there are many different types of ants on the east coast, some are more common than others. Certain species can contaminate items or inflict damage on your home or business. However, knowing the type of ant you’re dealing with can help you address the issue.
Common Types of Ants
If you suspect an ant infestation, three species typically cause problems for New England residents and business owners. These pests include:
- Carpenter Ants – These large black or dark brown ants can be up to a half-inch long. The pests tunnel through damp or rotting wood and create costly structural damage. Unlike termites, carpenter ants kick excess wood shavings out of their tunnels and nests, making them easier to identify due to the piles of debris left behind.
- Odorous House Ants – While these ants also have black or brown bodies, they are noticeably smaller than carpenter ants. Averaging about an eighth of an inch long, the ants sneak indoors in search of sweets. Their most obvious trait is the rotten coconut odor they emit when crushed.
- Pavement Ants – The smallest of the three species, pavement ants are about three millimeters in length. They have shiny dark brown or black bodies with tiny white hairs. Especially prevalent in Maine, the ants typically nest under sidewalks and patios, sometimes entering places like school cafeterias and restaurants for food.
- Citronella Ants – Citronella ants get their name from the lemon verbena or citronella odor they emit when threatened. It is most noticeable when the ants are crushed. They are subterranean insects that feed on the honeydew (excretions) of aphids and mealybugs feeding on the roots of shrubs.
Uncommon Types of Ants
While many different types of ants cause issues for New England residents, not all are common in the region. For instance, the acrobat ants’ habitat is the wooded areas of southeastern states, while Argentine ants migrated from South America to the Southwest. A few other rare ants are:
- European Fire Ants – These tiny red ants have recently started to establish themselves in certain sections of Maine, though they are rare. In addition to their hostile nature and harmful sting, European fire ants can live in cold climates and travel easily via potted plants shipped from other areas of the U.S.
- Asian Needle Ants – True to their name, these ants come from Asia and have made their way to certain parts of North America. Needle ants are an invasive species that inhabit both homes and forests. These ants should be avoided as they have a painful, venomous sting. Those with allergies should be especially careful.
- Crazy Ants – Often an issue in states like Florida and Texas, crazy ants are difficult to track and control due to their ability to travel long distances for food. They get their unique name thanks to their sudden, erratic movements and bizarre behavior.
- Dark Rover Ants – Originally from Argentina and Paraguay, dark rover ants have recently become a nuisance in the United States. Found in the southern half of the country, this type of ant is effective at infesting homes and businesses in large cities with dense populations.
- Field Ants – Sometimes mistaken for carpenter ants due to their size and color, field ant behavior is different. Instead of infesting buildings, these pests build large mounds in yards and rarely come indoors. While field ants live in states as close as Ohio, it is still uncommon for them to create major problems in New England.
The above pests are not as prevalent in New England as carpenter, odorous, and pavement ants. However, it is still possible for them to enter a house or workplace. Warehouses and factories taking in daily shipments might unknowingly receive a less-common type of ant. As a result, the insects may breed and start a new colony in the building or even a customer’s apartment.
Why Do I Have Ants?
Multiple factors contribute to an ant infestation, though most come down to home maintenance and food availability. Many types of ants infest buildings that offer easy access to a meal. The scent of food coupled with cracks in foundations or damaged weather stripping gives them ample entry points.
While some species of ant do not cause structural damage, it’s important to understand how a large colony can still create issues. The pests are capable of ruining restaurants’ reputations, spoiling produce and packaged goods in a grocery shipment, or disrupting the workflow of an office. Some ants also have painful bites or stings, which is dangerous for those with allergies.
Let the Professionals Handle It
Ant infestations are more than a nuisance. They can result in profit loss, poor customer reviews, and expensive repairs. Regardless of the type of ant causing issues in your business or home, contact the experts at Waltham Services for safe, effective removal.