• Ants (General)

  • Odorous House Ants

  • Pavement Ants

  • Carpenter Ants

  • Fire Ants

  • '; $page = $_GET["page"]; switch ($page) { case '': $title = ''; $banner = 'ants-banner.png'; $content = '


    Ants are perhaps the most successful insect, and one of the most successful members of the animal kingdom on earth. Ants live practically everywhere, but are most abundant in warm climates. There are about 10,000 species of ants. Within each species, there are usually many different types.

    An Ant (Winged Phase)

    Please select from the following list of topics to learn more about ants:

    About Ants

    Ants are social insects that live in colonies; these colonies include one or more queens, as well as workers, eggs, larvae, and pupae.

    The worker ants maintain their developed structures known as nests. Nests protect the ants against their enemies, offer some protection against weather, and often are placed close to water and food sources. Some ant species nest in the ground, oftentimes under concrete or slabs. Some species are found in wood (such as fence posts, dead logs, hollow trees, or within buildings). Ants cannot eat wood as termites do, because they cannot digest the cellulose in it, so although they may make a cavity in the wood (known as a nest gallery), ants\' damage to wood is less severe than that of termites.

    The body structure of an ant is typical of almost all insects: six-legged, with a tough "outside skeleton," called the exoskeleton. Unlike most other insects, ants have an extremely small "waist" between the abdomen and thorax, making ants easier to identify.

    The ant\'s exoskeleton encases three separate body parts and the two multi-purpose antennae. The exoskeleton shell, which contains varying amounts of an organic compound called chitin, protects the ant from the weather, injury and water loss. The shell and its muscle arrangement imparts to the ant great strength relative to its mass, allowing it to drag objects (including other insects) many times its own weight and size.

    Do You Have Ants? A Questionnaire

    To help you determine whether you need to call Regional Pest Management to control an ant problem, please consider the following questions:

    1. How long have you noticed the problem?

    A long history of activity indicates a colony located in the structure. In northern regions, activity indoors during colder weather is strong evidence that a colony is located in the structure.

    2. How many ants do you see?

    Seeing many ants frequently indicates an indoor colony. If you see them only occasionally, they may be random foragers coming in from the outside.

    3. Where are they seen most often?

    This will provide a clue to where they are foraging and nesting.

    4. Have you seen any small piles that look like sawdust?

    These piles, called "frass piles," are usually located close to nest sites.

    5. Have you had any water leaks or noticed any rotting wood? If so, where?

    They often nest in moist or rotting wood. You should inspect these areas first. They prefer to nest in moist environments.

    6. Have you conducted inspections in the evening or early morning.?

    Ants are more active at night, so you\'re more likely to observe foraging activity and find the nest.

    7. Have you inspected any "lines" around your house or building?

    Foraging ants like to travel on fence lines, phone lines, roof lines, railings, as well as driveway or sidewalk borders and edges.

    8. Have you knocked on wood near suspected nest sites?

    Look and listen for activity. Carpenter ants sound like crinkling cellophane.

    9. Have you checked frass piles for materials such as wood, insulation, plastic, etc.?

    Frass material will help indicate specific nest locations.

    10. Have you checked for plastic vapor barriers under mulch beds?

    Ants love to trail or nest under the plastic film.

    11. Have you followed foraging ants carrying the food particles?

    They\'re heading back to the nest. Place food in the ants\' path, then follow them back to their nests.

    12. Have you checked the weather conditions during any inspections?

    They rarely forage if temperatures are below 55 degrees F.

    13. Have you inspected trees and dead wood around your house or establishment?

    Ants tend to nest in tree holes and dead wood on the ground. Also look for tree branches, shrubs and vines against the buildings.

    Types of Ants

    Regional Pest Management can take care of your ant problem, indoors or outside. Please select from the following list of topics regarding specific types of ants:

    '; break; case 'odorous': $title = 'Odorous Ants'; $banner = 'ants-banner.png'; $content = '

    Odorous House Ants

    Odorous House Ant (Tapinoma sessile)

    This native species, found throughout the United States, produces a foul odor when crushed. The crushed ant smells like a "rotten coconut," thus leading to its name. Odorous house ants are small, and can be found both inside and outside.


    The workers are about 1/16-1/8" long. The body is brown to black. The antennae have 12 segments.


    Females in the nest lay one egg daily. It takes an average of 24 days for the young to reach adulthood. The nest colonies range from 100 to 10,000 ants. Interestingly enough, although odorous ants will defend their nest, they can be driven away by invading Argentine ants.


    Odorous house ants forage day and night. The nests can occur in a great variety of settings. Inside, these ants usually construct their nests in wall voids, especially around hot water pipes and heaters, in crevices in sinks, cupboards, etc.

    Outside, they are found in exposed soil, usually shallow, often located beneath a board, brick, stone walk, etc. Odorous house ants are most likely to enter buildings when their honeydew supply or sweet supply of food is reduced by extended periods of rainy weather or with leaf fall in the autumn.


    Odorous house ants can feed on anything: insects, honeydew, seeds, plant secretions, etc. They do prefer sweets. They are extremely fond of honeydew and follow or pursue such honeydew-excreting insects as plant lice (aphids), scale insects, mealybugs, etc.

    For information on other types of ants, please select one of the following links:

    '; break; case 'pavement': $title= 'Pavement Ants'; $banner= 'ants-banner.png'; $content = '

    Pavement Ants

    The pavement ant is a small, brown to black ant with pale legs and a black abdomen. Pavement ants feed on a variety of materials, including live and dead insects, honeydew from aphids, meats, grease, etc. They often enter houses looking for food. They may become numerous in a short period of time in a kitchen or outside on a patio.


    1/10 to 1/8 inch (2-3mm)


    Brown to black


    Pavement ants are very common in the eastern United States. These small, brown to black ants usually nest under stones, concrete slabs, at the edge of pavements, and in houses in crevices in woodwork and masonry.

    Life Cycle

    New ant colonies are started by a single queen that lays the eggs and tends the brood that develops into worker ants. Tending of the brood is then taken over by the workers, which shift the brood from place to place as moisture and temperature fluctuate in the nest. When workers forage for food for the queen and her young, they often enter houses and become a nuisance.

    Type of Damage

    They feed on animal food, grease, seeds, etc.


    The nests are often difficult to locate, so control is usually aimed at individual ants or groups of ants.

    For information on other types of ants, please select one of the following links:

    '; break; case 'carpenter': $title = 'Carpenter Ants'; $banner = 'ants-banner.png'; $content = '

    Carpenter Ants

    A Carpenter Ant

    "I keep seeing big, black ants in my house, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. I spray the ones I see, but they keep coming back. What kind of ants are these, where do they come from, and how do I get rid of them?"

    These are the questions typically asked by homeowners who have carpenter ants. Carpenter ants are one of the most common ants found in the mid-Atlantic states. They are also one of the most difficult to control. This page will help you determine if you have carpenter ants. If you do, you should call Regional Pest Management!


    Carpenter ants vary in size and color but are usually large (1/4-1/2 inch) and blackish. Occasionally, swarms of winged carpenter ant reproductives will emerge inside a home. Carpenter ant swarms usually occur in the spring and are a sure sign that a colony is nesting somewhere inside the structure.

    Winged carpenter ants can be distinguished from termites by their larger size and shape of their antennae, waist and wings.


    Besides being objectionable by their presence, carpenter ants damage wood by hollowing it out for nesting. They excavate galleries in wood which have a smooth, sandpapered appearance. Wood which has been damaged by carpenter ants contains no mud-like material, as is the case with termites.

    The extent and potential damage to a home depends on how many nests are actually present within the structure, and how long the infestation has been active. Although large carpenter ant colonies are capable of causing structural damage, the damage is not normally as serious as that from termites. In some cases, the damage may be relatively insignificant, but this can only be determined by locating and exposing the nest area.

    Detecting Carpenter Ant Galleries

    Shredded fragments of wood called frass, similar in appearance to coarse sawdust, are ejected from the galleries through preexisting cracks or slits made by the ants. When such accumulations are found (typically containing dead ants and bits of insects which the carpenter ants have eaten), it\'s a good indication that a carpenter ant nest is nearby. Oftentimes, however, the excavated sawdust remains hidden behind a wall or in some other concealed area. Probing the wood with a screwdriver helps reveal the excavated galleries. Another technique for locating hidden nests is to tap along baseboards and other wood surfaces with the blunt end of a screwdriver, listening for the hollow sound of damaged wood. If a nest is nearby, carpenter ants often will respond by making a "rustling" sound within the nest, similar to the crinkling of cellophane.

    Carpenter ants may establish nests in a number of different locations. It is important to realize that these locations can be either inside or outside the structure. Carpenter ants actually construct two different kinds of nests: parent colonies which, when mature, contain an egg-laying queen, brood and 2000 or more worker ants, and satellite colonies which may have large numbers of worker ants but no queen, eggs or young larvae. The carpenter ants inside a home may have originated from the parent colony or from one or more satellite nests. For example, the ants may be coming from the parent nest located outdoors in a tree stump, landscape timber or woodpile, or from one or more satellite nests hidden behind a wall in the kitchen or bathroom, or perhaps from wood dampened by a roof leak in the attic.

    Carpenter ants nest in both moist and dry wood, but prefer wood which is moist. Consequently, the nests are more likely to be found in wood dampened by water leaks, such as around sinks, bathtubs, poorly sealed windows/ door frames, roof leaks and poorly flashed chimneys. Nests are especially common in moist, hollow spaces such as the wall void behind a dishwasher, or in a hollow porch column.

    If outdoor nests are suspected, the homeowner should also inspect around the foundation of the building at night with a flashlight, especially around doors, weep holes and openings such as where utility pipes and wires enter the structure.


    The best way to control carpenter ants is to find and destroy the nests. This is often easier said than done! Oftentimes, it will be difficult or impossible for a homeowner to locate and destroy the carpenter ant nest(s). Recent studies have shown that carpenter ants follow distinct scent trails between the satellite colonies and the parent nest. Carpenter ants also rely on scent trails to recruit their nestmates to food. Regional Pest Management uses this trailing behavior displayed by carpenter ants to locate and eliminate the nests.


    A number of steps can be taken by homeowners to reduce the potential for future carpenter ant problems:

    1. Correct roof leaks, plumbing leaks and other moisture problems which will attract carpenter ants.
    2. Eliminate wood-to-ground contact such as where landscaping has moved soil or mulch up against the wood siding of a home.
    3. Clip back tree limbs and vegetation touching the roof or siding of the house. Limbs and branches serve as "bridges" between carpenter ants nesting in a dead tree limb and the structure.
    4. Seal cracks and openings in the foundation, especially where utility pipes and wires enter from the outside.
    5. Stack firewood away from the foundation and elevate it off the ground. Never store firewood in the garage or other areas of the home, as firewood is a prime nesting area for carpenter ants.

    For information on other types of ants, please select one of the following links:

    '; break; case 'fire': $title = 'Fire Ants'; $banner = 'ants-banner.png'; $content = '

    Fire Ants

    A Fire Ant

    Fire ants are a painful problem. Both the native and imported varieties can sting. The imported type is particularly aggressive, and its sting can cause irritation, nausea, and even more severe reactions in humans. They have been known to repeatedly attack animals that may intrude on their nests. The red imported fire ant can also damage plants, telephone wires, homes, buildings, and even air-conditioning units!


    There are two kinds of red imported fire ants: the single-queen and multiple-queen forms. Workers in single-queen colonies are territorial, foraging only within their territory. Workers from multiple-queen colonies are not territorial; they freely move from one mound to another, which has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of mounds per acre. Areas infested with single-queen colonies contain 40 to 150 mounds per acre (rarely more than 7 million ants per acre). In areas with multiple-queen colonies, there may be 200 or more mounds and 40 million ants per acre.

    The red imported fire ant builds mounds in almost any type of soil, but prefers open, sunny areas such as pastures, parks, lawns, meadows and cultivated fields. Mounds can reach 18 inches in height, depending on the type of soil. Many times mounds are located in rotting logs and around stumps and trees. Colonies also can occur in or under buildings. When their mounds are disturbed, the workers will come out of the ground and sting the intruder very aggressively. The red imported ant can have huge colonies with 300-500,000 workers foraging at distances of 100 yards.

    Their usual activity is from the spring through the fall months. During the spring and summer months, the active mounds will send out winged swarmer ants, whose sole job is to start new colonies. Sometimes the red imported fire ant will nest inside during the winter months under bathtubs (when on a slab), or next to a hot water heater. The southern fire ant will usually nest in loose soil, but at times they can be found in woodwork or masonry. Their nest may be seen as large crevices in the ground that spread out 2-4 feet. The nest can be found under houses, under boards or stones, or in cracks in concrete.

    Colonies frequently migrate from one site to another. The queen needs only a few workers to start a new colony. They can develop a new mound several hundred feet away from their previous location almost overnight. Flooding causes colonies to leave their mounds and float until they can reach land to establish a new mound. Colonies also can migrate to indoor locations.

    Appearance and Identification

    Fire ants are reddish to black in color and are about 1/8 inch long. The imported variety can be identified by the following characteristics:


    Total time from egg to adult averages 30 days. Workers live up to 180 days, and queens live two to six years.


    The imported fire ant will not only forage for food, such as small insects, dead animals, and sweet materials such as plant secretions, but will also kill insects and small animals to feed. The southern fire ant goes for a variety of foods including protein, greases and sweet foods.

    If you have fire ants, don\'t wait a minute. Call Regional Pest Management!

    For information on other types of ants, please select one of the following links:

    '; break; } ?> - Regional Pest Management