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Ants are common insects, but they have some unique capabilities. More than 10,000 known ant species occur around the world.  Ants look much like termites, and the two are often confused—especially by nervous homeowners. However, ants have a narrow "waist" between the abdomen and thorax, which termites do not. Ants also have large heads, elbowed antennae, and powerful jaws. These insects belong to the order Hymenoptera, which includes wasps and bees.

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Most Common Ants

Acrobat Ants
Acrobat Ants

Appearance: Distinctive heart-shaped abdomen when viewed from above. 1/8- to 1/4-inch; black, dark brown, or red and black.

Habitat: Acrobat ants prefer to nest in moist or rotted wood. Colonies are most often found in tree holes, dead limbs and rotting areas in fences, decks and railings. Indoors, nests may be located where water damage has occurred, in decayed or damp wood or inside insulation wall panels and wall voids.

Appearance: Brown to light brown; shiny. About 1/10-inch long

Habitat: Argentine ant colonies live in moist areas near a food source, often in damp soil next to buildings, along sidewalks or beneath boards. When outdoor conditions are too wet or dry, Argentine ants invade buildings by trailing along plumbing pipes and shrub branches, utility lines and wires.

Argentine Ant
Argentine Ant
Big Headed Ant
Big Headed Ant

Appearance: Light brown to dark reddish brown; 1/16" to 1/8" long.

Habitat: Big headed ants enter buildings occasionally, preferring to nest in protected soil such as under stones, leaf litter, mulch, patio blocks, slabs and firewood. These ants are also commonly found inside the soil of potted plants, and many big headed ant control problems may be traced to planters.

Appearance: Among the largest of ants, 1/4 to 1/2" long. The most common species is black, but some are dark red or brown. Carpenter ants are the most common property pest in the Midwest. Home and business owners are far more likely to face an invasion of carpenter ants than termites

Habitat: Carpenter ants get their name because they excavate wood in order to build their nests, leaving hollowed-out tunnels. Inside, they can be found in overly wet, poorly ventilated spaces such as crawl spaces or attics.

Carpenter Ant
Carpenter Ant