Ant Identification 101: What Every Houston Homeowner Ought To Know

April 08, 2020

rad imported fire ants fighting on a leaf

How someone responds to an insect usually depends on how it looks and what it does. For example, most people would have a positive reaction if they saw a ladybug. They would gush over how pretty, dainty, and innocent it seems, as it crawls and flies. Conversely, a spider might bring on negative feelings of fear and disgust. They have long legs, move fast, and sometimes have a poisonous bite. Ants are viewed as harmless because of their small size, but they can be a threat to your health and home. Some of the most common ant species in Houston are pharaoh, fire, and odorous house ants. Learn now about identification, prevention, and how Modern Pest Control can help.

How to Identify Common Houston Ants

Pharaoh ants are tiny, less than 1/8 of an inch long. They are yellowish brown in color with red or black marks on their stomachs. They wander indoors seeking protective shelter, moisture, and something to eat. Pantries, food packages, and pipe chases are ideal nesting spots for them. Their flexible, petite bodies allow them to get in through the smallest of crevices and gaps. Many ant groups have mating swarms that humans can see, but pharaoh ants mate in their nests. The primary sign of an infestation with this class is seeing their amber-colored workers out and about.
 
Fire ants range in size, from 1/16 to ⅕ of an inch in length. Their bodies are reddish, with a black stinger at the bottom. Preferring warm and sunny weather, they’re typically found outdoors. They build mounds in dry fields and surround plants, grass sod and landscaping material. This is how they end up inside properties; they’re close by in the yard. They have mandibles and stingers to catch prey. Their venomous bites can cause skin irritation and/or an allergic reaction in humans. A burning sensation will occur, followed by an itchy bump. Those who experience sweating or nausea, should seek immediate medical attention. The outcome of a fire ant bite could be fatal. You might have a fire ant infestation if you see their mounds outside. They are more noticeable after rainfall.
 
Odorous house ants can be ⅛ to 3/16 of an inch long. They’re black or dark brown. Gravitating to moisture and warm temperatures, they like the indoors. They often invade after it rains. They nest in walls, floor voids, pipes, and carpeting. Outside, they’ll hide in soil or under wood and rocks. They smell like spoiled coconut when smashed. They bite, but it won’t be too painful.
 
Pharaoh and odorous house ants carry bacteria and can spread disease by contaminating food and surfaces. All three of these ant types rapidly reproduce. Their favorite foods include meats, sweets, grease, vegetables, dairy, and dead insects.

How to Prevent Ants

You can prevent the majority of ants with these steps:

  • Close any cracks in walls, windows, screens, and foundations.
  • All exterior doors should have door sweeps.
  • Groom greenery and distance it from your property.
  • Use tight food storage containers, and quickly clean spills. 
  • Keep the kitchen and pantry neat.
  • Regularly remove trash and vacuum often.

How Modern Pest Control Can Help

Ants are tough to get rid of. They multiply fast and everyday insecticides just make them build nests elsewhere. Moreover, multiple treatments are necessary to completely eliminate them. Modern Pest Control has the skill and products needed to locate and kill these bugs. We’ll make sure they don’t return--with a custom property plan and continued quarterly care. We have subscriptions that come with service guarantees; some are as low as $33 a month. Call us for your free inspection today!

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