Ant Identification Chart

What Kind Of Ants Do I Have ?

Argentine Ant Argentine Ant Scale

Workers Size: 1/12 ‐ 1/8 inch long; light to dark brown in color

Colors: Light to dark brown in color

Distinctive Characteristics: Long legs (like cricket legs) and long antennae. One erect petiole node and an uneven thorax. Musty odor when crushed, wide and long trails are often seen traveling up trees and buildings in search of food.

Geographical Distribution

  • Southern United States
  • South East US
  • Southwestern US, especially California

Inspection

Foraging trails in homes, trees, and traveling up buildings. You may see them under firewood, rocks, and stones. Inside, you may see Argentine Ants.

  • Kitchen
  • Bathrooms
  • Near indoor plants

Nest Locations:

Their mega‐colony nests are most often located in moist soil, next to buildings, along sidewalks, or beneath boards and plants. Nests are located near water and food sources. Inside, nests may be located in soil-related locations such as potted plants and expansion joints.

Carpenter Ant Carpenter Ant Scale

Scale: Small Ants to the larger Carpenter Ants

Worker Size: Large, from 1/4‐3/8 inches long

Colors: Many varieties of different colors

Geographical Distribution

  • Throughout the US

Inspection

Anywhere near wood (inside or outside) that has been damaged by moisture

Nest Locations:

Carpenter ants don't eat wood but hollow out dead and moist trees, fence posts, and trees to form nests. Inside, nest locations include foam insulation, wall voids, crawlspaces, and eaves.

Crazy Ant Crazy Ants Scale

Scale: Small Ants to the larger Carpenter Ants

Worker Size: Large, from 1/4‐3/8 inches long

Colors: Many varieties of different

Geographical Distribution

  • Throughout the US
  • Concentrated in the south east and coastal states

Inspection

They wander in aimless movements instead of a straight trail.

  • Kitchen
  • Bathrooms
  • Near indoor plants
  • Near outdoor plants that attract ornamental pests
  • Electronics/electrical boxes

Nest Locations:

Crazy ants live in both moist and dry locations. These ants often nest some distance away from foraging areas. Typical nests include rotten wood, potted plants, under rocks, in soil under objects, and they travel far to forage for food from their nests.

Fire Ant Fire Ants Scale

Worker Size: 1/8 to 1/4 inch

Colors: Red-brown to reddish-black

Distinctive characteristics: Mounded ants; the range is limited.

Geographical Distribution

  • Throughout southern states, stops at the Rockies

Inspection

Usually outside, but may move inside when under drought or high‐temperature conditions.

Some people will find them indoors, will see the dirt coming out from baseboards. If you look outside, you may see an adjoining nest to the exterior wall.

  • Yard
  • Kitchens
  • Pantries
  • Pet food areas
  • Family rooms

Nest Locations:

Build nests in mounds outside in sunny areas; highly aggressive. Single-queen colonies contain 40‐150 mounds per acre; multiple-queen colonies, there may be 200 or more.

Ghost Ants Ghost Ants Scale

Workers: 1/16 inch

Colors: Pale and white‐like, blends in with the corners and trim inside

Distinction: Appear from nowhere like a "ghost". Give off a coconut‐like odor when crushed.

Geographical Distribution

  • Tropical ants, many in Florida and Hawaii
  • Southeastern US
  • May be found in greenhouses in northern states

Inspection

They may trail inside; trails are long from nesting sites.

  • If inside, we will see them in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Near indoor plants
  • Near outdoor plants that attract ornamental pests

Nest Locations:

These nests are moderate-to-large in size with multiple queens. They are flexible to nesting locations. Outside, they may be located under bark, bases of plant pots, under tufts of grass. Inside, they may be found in spaces between

Leaf Cutter Ants Leaf Cutter Ants Scale

Workers: 1/12 to 1/2 inch in length; spiny body and long legs.

Colors: orange to brown

Distinction: Trail of ants carrying chewed off bits of leaves (makes fungus-their diet). Will not take a direct bait

Geographical Distribution

  • Eastern and south-central Texas.

Inspection

Look for "trails of leaves" when inspecting their trails to find their mounds. These foraging workers bring back fragments from leaves.

Nest Locations:

Leaf Cutter ants prefer to nest in well-drained sandy or loamy soils. You may find craters of loose soil deposited above their nests, with many entrances. Since Leaf Cutter Ants like high moisture areas, search in those areas. Typical areas are drainage ditches, streams, and creek beds. Mounds are formed in the shape of a large funnel.

Odorous House Ants Odorous House Ants Scale

Workers: 1/16‐1/8 inch

Colors: Brown to black

Distinction: One‐node ant, "rotten coconut" odor when crushed. Extended abdomen at first glance.

Geographical Distribution

  • Throughout the US

Inspection

These ants nest both inside and outside. They prefer moisture and prefer sweets

  • Kitchens
  • Pantry/Stored Food
  • Bathrooms
  • Near indoor plants

Nest Locations:

Odorous House ants usually construct their nests in wall voids, especially around hot water pipes and heaters, in crevices, sinks, cupboards, etc. Outside they are found in exposed soil, usually shallow, often located beneath a board, brick, stone walk, etc.

Pavement Ants Pavement Ants Scale

Workers: 1/16‐1/8 inch

Colors: Brown to black

Distinction: Their trails are most easily spotted at night. Love to trail in cracks in driveways, found in between bricks. They do not like to crawl through vegetation.

Geographical Distribution

  • Atlantic coastal region, in the mid-western United States, and the West Coast.

Inspection

Swarmers usually appear in June or July; however, they have been reported at other times of the year. Their trails are most easily spotted at night.

  • Pavement Ants will displace soil around concrete objects such as sidewalks, patios, driveways, curbs, etc. This displaced loose soil may be seen along the cracks or joints in the sidewalks or driveways
  • Kitchen and Dining areas
  • Plumbing, sinks, and along edges of carpets
  • Under stones or concrete, brick patios
  • Look at plumbing pipes and electrical wires for their trails
  • Under stones or concrete and brick patios
  • Look at plumbing pipes and electrical wires for their trails

Nest Locations:

As their name indicates, nests are found outside under cracks of pavement, under stones, and next to buildings. Occasionally they may be found in walls, under floors, and in insulation. If your home is a slab-on-grade construction, Pavement Ant foragers enter through cracks in slabs or other openings. They often enter buildings through expansion joints in slabs.

Pharaoh Ants Pharaoh Ants Scale

Workers: 1/16 inch

Colors: Light yellow to red, with black markings on the abdomen.

Distinction: So tiny, they can travel and trail to many places. When you look at them, their abdomen have black stripes.

Geographical Distribution

  • Usually found inside homes in the southern US, but may be found throughout the US

Inspection

Pharaoh Ants, being tiny, can be found in diverse places. Inside, they like to nest in warm areas. Their nests are usually well hidden, and they can forage far away from the nest with trails marked by trail pheromones. Pharoah Ants can be persistent, with large colonies.

Nest Locations:

  • Outside, Pharaoh ants may nest in shaded areas or under debris. In the northern climates, these ants can not survive year-round outside. 
  • Indoors prefer to nest in recessed areas like wall voids, under some appliances, in-wall outlets, and under carpets for protection. If their colonies are disturbed, or the colony becomes too large, they may move.

Ant Size Comparison by Type

ant idenitifcation crazy vs fire vs carpenter size

Written by our resident pest control expert Ken Martin.