Which Kind is Yours?
Texas hosts a variety of species of ants, but the following are the most common household invaders.
They all annoy us, whether they are joining our picnic or finding that one crumb under the cabinets in the kitchen. Ants generally do not harm humans, but can still contaminate food or even wood.
Perhaps the most iconic species of Eastern Texas, fire ants are known for their aggressive response to disturbances including a painful “fiery” sting. Reddish-brown in color, these ants always nest outdoors, but will enter buildings in search of food and water in times of extreme heat or cold. Their nests are conspicuous mounds with no visible entrance holes on the mound itself.
There are two kinds found in Texas. The southern fire ant is native to the Southern United States, but has a less painful sting when compared to the invasive red imported fire ant whose native home is in South America.
Considered large for an ant, carpenter ants come in a few colorations including black, brown, or red-orange. These ants are nocturnal by nature, and follow trails along fences, water hoses, and other linear objects. Carpenter ants can bite but cannot sting. They nest in hollow trunks and branches, but are not opposed to hollow boxes or walls of a building.
Acrobat ants are frequently confused with carpenter ants due to their similar coloration and nesting habits. Unlike carpenter ants, acrobat ants are diurnal, or active during the day. When threatened, these ants lift their heart-shaped gasters like an acrobat when balancing on their hands. They are able to sting.
Teeny in size, pharaoh ants are yellow-ish in color and live indoors. They are picky eaters, preferring foods in high sugars and high proteins. These ants nest in narrow spaces like electrical boxes and wall voids. Because of their unique diet, pharaoh ants usually require specially designed ant baits.
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Famous for fast and erratic running behavior, crazy ants nest inside and outside buildings of warm, humid parts of Texas. These ants appear hairy, with pairs of hairs all over their thorax. There are two species of crazy ants, including the true (Longhorn) crazy ant and the invasive tawny (or Rasberry) crazy ant.
Tawny crazy ants do not have stingers, but are capable of biting. Tawny ants are known for their affinity to electrical equipment, and can cause short circuits and equipment failure.
Odorous House Ants
Odorous house ants prefer nesting outside under mulch, stones, and other objects.They are generally smooth-bodied with few hairs, and smell like licorice when crushed. These ants prefer sweets as a food source.
Leaf Cutting Ants
Iconic for their leaf-carrying behavior, these ants live outside, directly in the soil. They collect plant material to cultivate a special kind of fungus in an underground “garden.” The fungus is the ant’s food source. These ants are generally reddish-brown in color.
A relatively new Texas pest, the Rover ants are seen along sidewalk and house edges and on tree trunks. They do not sting. Brown in color, rover ants prefer nesting outside in the ground but are attracted to sweet foods and will enter homes to reach this food source.
- ["City Bugs" by Texas A&M University, 2013 ](https://citybugs.tamu.edu/factsheets/household/ants-house/ent-2013/ ""City Bugs" by Texas A&M University, 2013 ")
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