With more than 200 different species of ants in Florida, including more than 50 that are not native to the area, it can be nearly impossible to correctly identify the exact ant you are looking at unless you are an entomologist. The following ant species are the most common home invaders in Florida: acrobat, argentine, big headed, carpenter, crazy, fire, odorous, pavement, pharaoh, thief, bicolored trailing, Florida harvester, elogated twig, ghost ant, pyramid, rover and white footed.
Things You'll Need
- Re-sealable plastic storage bag
Monitor the ants' movements and speed. Ants that are known for being very fast include crazy and elongated twig. Acrobat, big-headed, bicolor trailing and little fire ants are known for being slower moving than most ants.
Capture several of the ants and place them into a re-sealable plastic storage bag. Seal the bag and place it in the freezer until the ants have died. Then take it out of the freezer and look at the ants closely.
Look at the color of the ant to see if it is solid colored. Ants that may be solid brown include acrobat, Argentine, big-headed, crazy, odorous, pavement, Florida harvester, pyramid and rover. Ants that can be black include acrobat, big-headed, carpenter, crazy and pavement. Ants that may be yellow to light brown include acrobat, big-headed, thief, little fire, pyramid and rover.
Look at the color of the ant's legs, head, chest and abdomen. Ants that have a dark abdomen than the rest of their body include Florida carpenter, pharaoh and imported fire ants. Bicolored trailing ants have a black head and abdomen and light brown body. Elogated twig have a mauve to black head and dull orange body. Ghost ants have a dark head and abdomen and chest with pale legs and abdomen. White-footed ants have black bodies with yellowish-white feet. Carpenter ants may be red and black.
Measure the length of the ant. Most household ants have a size range between 1/8 to 1/12 inch long. Ants that may be between 1/16 to 1/20 inch in Florida include pharaoh, thief, bicolored trailing, ghost, rover and little fire ants. Larger ants that can run up to 1/4 to 2/5 inch long include carpenter, imported fire, Florida harvester, elongated twig and Florida carpenter.
Look for unique features like the shape of the abdomen and head. An acrobat ant has a heart-shaped abdomen. Rover ants have a swollen or humped abdomen. Some worker big-headed ants have larger, square heads. Crazy ants have very long antennae and legs.
Crush the ant between a piece of paper and your shoe. If it gives off a foul smell like that of rotten coconuts or licorice, it could be either an odorous house or a pyramid ant. Odorous ants are about 1/10 inch long and brown to dark brown; pyramid ants are pale orange to dark brown and 1/6 to 1/12 inch long. If the odor is more stale, greasy or musty, then it may be an Argentine ant. Argentine ants are 1/8 inch long and light to dark brown.
- Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center; The Pest Ants of Florida, Betty Ferster, et al.
- Florida Center for Library Automation; An Updated List of Florida Ants; Mark Deyrup
- Ant Web; Florida Ants; Mark Deyrup, et al.
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Ants; P. G. Koehler, et al.
- Floridabugs.com: Florida Ants
- University of Tennessee Agricultural Management Service; Managing Structure-Invading Ants; Karen Vail
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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