ants in tulsa kitchen looking for food

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What do ants look like?

There are many types of ants in the world. In Oklahoma, property owners often encounter odorous house ants, carpenter ants, and pharaoh ants. 

 carpenter ant on a white background

 

Odorous House Ants

Brown or black in color, odorous house ants are small ants that may only reach about 1/8th of an inch in length as adults. Their thorax (the section of body behind the head and in front of the abdomen) is uneven in shape. When these ants are crushed they give of a smell that is likened to rotten-coconut or the smell of pine. Another characteristic of these ants is that as they travel back and forth from their nest to their food source, they form distinct trails on both interior and exterior surfaces.

Carpenter Ants (pictured above)

Large, typically black in color, carpenter ants may appear in shades of red, yellow, or even a combination of colors. Adult workers grow to between 1/8th and 1/2 of an inch in length; queens are larger and grow to between ¾ and 1 inch in length. They have an oval shaped segmented body, six legs, and antennae; and workers have large, powerful mandibles (the better to chew through wood with).

Pharaoh Ants
Another small species of ant (growing to about 1/16th of an inch or 1/8th of an inch for the queen) Pharaoh ants are often described as yellow, honey or orange in color, with their queens being a bit darker than the rest. When looking at Pharaoh ants from the side, you can see that their thorax is uneven and lacks spines.

Why do some ants have wings?

Winged ants are actually the reproductive members of an ant colony.  When an ant colony is well-established, winged sexually mature females and males “swarm” from the colony so that the few that survive predators can mate and start a new colony of their own. Finding the presence of winged ants on your property means that there is most likely a large ant colony very close by, including possibly a nest in your home or building. Many times, winged ants are mistaken for termite swarmers because they also have winged reproductive members leave their colony for the very same reasons.

Differences between winged ants and winged termites include:

  • Winged ants have antennae that are bent or elbowed; winged termite antennae are straight and beaded.
  • Winged ants have a pinched waist and three distinctive body parts-head, abdomen and thorax; winged termites have a broad waistline and only two body parts, the head and “body”.
  • Ants have four wings; their front wings are much larger than the hind wings. Termites have four wings that are all of equal size.
  • The wings of an ant are strong and do not easily break off; termite wings fall off very quickly once they emerge from the colony and it is common to find piles of them under windows, on sills, and in doorways.


Do ants cause damage?

Carpenter ants are wood-destroying ants that use their powerful mandibles to create tunnels and nesting galleries inside of wood. If left untreated, carpenter ant infestations can cause serious structural damage to homes and other types of buildings. Unlike termites that eat the cellulose contained in wood, carpenter ants do not EAT wood, they do forage and damage wood to create a “home” for themselves. 

Ants may also contaminate food sources. Some types have been known to damage equipment and machinery including air conditioning units. 


Are ants dangerous?

Most ants are nuisance pests that do not threaten health or safety, however Pharaoh ants are a concern especially when it comes to hospitals. These pests have been known to crawl into IV lines and patient wounds. Salmonella and streptococcus are also associated with Pharaoh ants. 


Why do I have an ant problem?

Often ants enter homes and businesses foraging for food or if the weather outside becomes too uncomfortable (i.e. too hot, too cold, too wet). Cracks in foundations, spaces around doors and windows, and gaps where utilities enter or A/Cs are installed are just a few ways these pests sneak inside. Once inside, they may decide to stick around, creating nests behind walls, in crawl spaces, underneath floors, in attics, and behind appliances. 


How do I get rid of ants?

Identifying what type of ant you have is essential for proper treatment. You wouldn’t treat destructive carpenter ants the same way you would nuisance ants. If you’re dealing with ants, contact the ant control professionals at ME for expert identification and treatment. We’ll work with you to identify the culprit, find entry points, and develop a plan that results in ant elimination. Contact us today to learn more about our solutions for ant infestations or view the recommended service below to find out how our home pest control program targets ants and other household pests.

 

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