ANT SPECIES

There are around 200 different ant species in Europe, of which the approx. 100 ant species native to Americia also live exclusively in organized, large ant colonies. In the wild, ants are fundamentally an essential element of the ecosystem.

If ants penetrate people’s buildings and apartments, they become annoying and, in some cases, dangerous. Some species can transmit diseases, and some endanger the static safety of load-bearing timbers – they have no business in buildings inhabited by people, so professional ant control is often necessary. We present essential harmful ant species in America.

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Argentine ant

(Line theme humile)

Look

Argentine ant
Argentine ant
  • The workers of the Argentine ant are approx. 2 mm long, the queens 4.5 mm and the males 3 mm long.
  • Their slim body is coloured light to dark brown.
  • Winged forms exist all year round but do not swarm out.

Reproduction

  • The workers of the Argentine ant reproduce in spring. They can be found increasingly in autumn.
  • The winged ants (reproductive kings and queens) produce at the beginning of spring (earlier than their workers) and reach full sexual maturity after three months.
  • Argentine ants develop in their nests, so no army swarms are visible.

Way of life

  • The workers of the Argentine ant follow food trails over long distances. It is, therefore, difficult to find their nests.
  • They prefer sweet foods, but they also eat live or dead insects, meat, grain products or fruits.
  • The Argentine ant drives other species of ants out of their habitat.

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Red-backed house ant

Lasius brunneus )

Look

Red-backed house ant
Red-backed house ant
  • The red-backed house ant is a scale ant that reaches a size of 2.5 to 4 mm.
  • Your body is two-tone. 
  • The back is red (yellowish-brown), the head and abdomen are dark, the legs are lighter than the body.

Reproduction

  • In particular, the red-backed house ant often builds its colonies in the house and is considered a particularly problematic material pest.
  • Typically this species can be found outdoors.
  • Their nests are usually found in houses, for example, under the plaster, wall cladding, floorboards or stairs. Finding these nests takes some effort.

Way of life

  • The red-backed house ant is both a wood and hygiene pest (foraging in the household), which can cause primary and secondary damage.
  • It gnaws its way into the wood nest spaces, which, for example, can seriously impair the load-bearing capacity of beams. 
  • The red-backed house ant is the most frequently reported as annoying/harmful in America and can destroy large areas of built-up wood.
  • Plant growth on the house (mainly climbing plants) promotes their penetration.

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Fire ant

(Solenopsis spp)

Look

Fire ant
Fire ant
  • The queens of the fire ant reach a size of 15 mm. The workers are 3 to 6 mm tall.
  • Her head and body are copper-coloured, the abdomen a little darker in colour.
  • The antennae of the fire ant have very characteristic two-part club ends. These can be seen most clearly in the queens when viewed from the front.

Reproduction

  • After swarming and mating, the queen looks for a suitable place to lay her eggs. Then she lays up to 125 eggs in late spring.
  • The larvae hatch after 8 to 10 days. Pupation takes place after 9 to 16 days.
  • The larvae feed on secretions from the queen’s salivary gland and discarded wing muscles. After the first larvae have turned into workers, the queen lays further eggs (up to 1,500 per day!). The workers take care of the larvae care, nest building and foraging.
  • The sexually mature males hatch later in the year.

Way of life

  • The fire ant workers look for dead insects, earthworms and vertebrates. They also collect honeydew and sugary substances, proteins and fats.
  • Swarming behaviour: The queens and males mate in flight in the high and late summer months. Then the males die.
  • The building is a single hill up to 40 cm high or leans against existing objects, e.g. lying tree trunks.
  • The fire ant reacts aggressively to disturbances. After the painful bite, a pustule forms 48 hours later.
  • It is one of the worst pests in agriculture and cities, as it destroys crops and attacks buildings and outdoor areas.

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Common lawn ant

(Tetramorium caespitum)

Look

Common lawn ant
Common lawn ant
  • The typical lawn ant is approx. 3 mm long.
  • It is dark brown to black in colour and has two short thorns on the front chest area and grooves on the head and chest.
  • The chest area is uneven.
  • The typical lawn ant has 12-segment antennae – the antenna lobe is 3-segmented.

Reproduction

  • The typical lawn ant swarms out in spring and summer. When the outside temperature is high, it can also be present all year round.
  • The queens throw off their wings after the wedding and build their nests under stones or ground.
  • The states of the lawn ant reach colony strengths of up to 80,000 workers.

Way of life

  • The typical lawn ant is omnivorous and can feed on any food, including animal feed.
  • It invades buildings mainly at night in search of food. It can get into the interior through lines and electrical cables, among other things.
  • The nests of the lawn and are mainly in the grounds, under stones and wood or near foundations. Colonies like to settle near water.

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Pharaoh ant

(Monomorium pharaonis)

Look

Pharaoh ant
Pharaoh ant
  • The pharaoh ant workers are 2 to 2.3 mm tall, amber yellow in colour and have a brown abdomen.
  • The males reach a size of 2.8 to 3 mm. They are black and have wings.
  • The queens are 3.5 to 4.8 mm tall, brownish-yellow with a slightly darker head and a darker abdomen – also winged before fertilization.
  • The pharaoh ant has black eyes and two knotty links between the chest and abdomen.

Reproduction

  • Pharaoh ants form colonies with multiple queens.
  • Pharaoh ants mate in the nest. Winged sex animals are formed – but not flocks, so flying specimens are rarely seen.
  • Each queen lays up to 3,500 eggs in the course of her life.
  • Expansion and further establishment of states within buildings take place through the emigration of fertilized queens and workers.
  • New colonies often emerge after old nests have been destroyed, for example, through insect sprays.

Way of life

  • Pharaoh ants occur mainly in buildings.
  • They prefer a warm, humid climate and form exact hiking trails, often along heating pipes, such as toilets, hospitals, indoor swimming pools and large kitchens.
  • Pharaoh ants look for foods that contain protein, such as meat, fats, blood or dead insects.
  • The strength of the colonies varies between a few dozen and 300,000 individuals.

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Black-grey garden ant

(Lasius niger)

Look

Black-gray garden ant
Black-grey garden ant
  • The workers of the black-grey garden and reach a size of 3 to 5 mm.
  • The queens grow up to 9 mm.
  • The black-grey garden ant is dark brown to black in colour.
  • There is a scale between the chest and abdomen.
  • It has no sting.

Reproduction

  • The queens of the black-grey garden ant overwinter in the ground.
  • In mid to late summer, they mate with the fertile male ants in the air. The males die after reproduction.
  • The eggs are laid in late spring. The larvae hatch 3 to 4 weeks later.
  • The larvae feed on secretions from the queen’s salivary glands until the first workers hatch.
  • They take care of the larvae, build nests and procure food.
  • The sexually mature males are produced later in the season.

Way of life

  • The workers move on clearly defined paths while foraging for food.
  • They prefer sugary substances, but they can also get along with foods that are high in protein.
  • The black and grey garden ant usually builds its nest in the ground or under the pavement on the sunny side of buildings. The location of the earth nests can be seen from the finely atomized earth around the exit holes.

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Blackhead ant

(Tapinoma melanocephalum)

Look

Blackhead ant
Blackhead ant
  • The blackhead and is relatively small with its size of up to approx. 1.5 mm.
  • Her abdomen is pale with transparent legs.
  • The blackhead and has a dark brown head and a dark central body section.
  • There is a scale between her chest and abdomen.

Reproduction

  • The blackhead and is in an uninterrupted reproductive phase.

Way of life

  • Inside buildings, the blackhead and consumes sweet foods and fats. In the open air, it feeds on honeydew or the sweet excretions of the butterfly caterpillars.
  • To build a nest, the blackhead and looks for corners and wall cavities. In the open-air, nests are built-in flower pots, under plates or loose tree bark.
  • Blackhead ants are attracted to moisture, so they are often found under kitchen countertops and in bathrooms.

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Fragrant house ant

(Tapinoma sessile)

Look

Fragrant house ant
Fragrant house ant
  • The fragrant house ant reaches a size of approx. 1.5 to 3 mm.
  • It is coloured brown or black.
  • It has 12-segment antennas without a feeler lobe.
  • A fragrant house and has six legs.

Reproduction

  • The development phase of the fragrant house ant is 34 to 38 days.
  • Between 100 and 10,000 ants live in a colony.
  • The fragrant house ant usually lives for several years.

Way of life

  • The fragrant house ant eats almost all foods but prefers sweet foods and fruits, such as melons. But it also feeds on animal feed.
  • The fragrant house ant is attracted to moisture and loves warm and humid climates. It is often found indoors in plants but also under toilet lids.
  • It gives off a coconut odour when crushed.

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