There are many different species of red ants. Because of this, it can be very difficult to identify what type of ants are bugging you. When dealing with a pest problem that involves red ants, your best bet is to contact a pest control professional.

5 Types of Red Ants and How to Help Get Rid of Them

No matter the species, red ant colonies can quickly get out of hand both in and around your home. The trained technicians at Terminix will inspect your home to determine what insect has invaded your space and provide professional services and long-term solutions that fit your needs. 

With more than 700 species of ants in the United States, it can be difficult to tell them all apart unless you’re an entomologist. However, knowing the characteristics that differentiate various species can be important when it comes to helping prevent and control ants. For example, most people assume that any red ant is a fire ant, though this isn’t necessarily the case.

Learn some of the distinguishing traits of different species of these insects.

Fire Ants

Red imported fire ants (RIFA) are a common species of red ant in the country. They are most often found in the southeastern U.S., though they have been found as far north as Maryland and in western states like California, New Mexico and Oklahoma. These insects aren’t fire-engine red as the name might suggest. Instead, they’re a reddish-brown color, as are most red ants. RIFA range in size from 1/8 of an inch long to ¼ of an inch long and are known for their large mounds that can span 18 inches in width.

Carpenter Ants

These insects are much larger than fire ants, as they can grow to be about 5/8 of an inch long. Some types of carpenter ants are reddish in color while others, like the Florida carpenter ant, are orange in color. (A fitting hue for a Florida ant when you think about it.) In addition, carpenter ants have a tendency to set up colonies in wooden structures or old trees. For these reasons, they can cause significant damage to home structures and they’re sometimes mistaken for termites.

Tawny Crazy Ants

Tawny crazy ants have proven themselves to be quite the nuisance in Texas and other Gulf Coast states, especially since they have a tendency to be attracted to electrical wiring. Tawny crazy ants have been known to damage computers, pumps at sewage plants and have even set off fire alarms. These ants are about 1/8 of an inch long. They have hairy abdomens and long legs that make them walk in a crazy pattern, hence their name.

Leaf-Cutter Ants

These red ants are a type of farmer ant, so they can cause problems on shrubs or trees surrounding your house. In fact, an industrious colony can strip a tree bare over several hours. Leaf-cutter ants are reddish-brown in color. As the different workers in the colony vary in size, they can measure anywhere from 1/8 of an inch to 5/8 of an inch long. These ants are mainly found in the southern United States.

Bigheaded Ants

These red ants nest in soil, meaning they’re often identified by the discarded piles of dirt they leave behind as they create their tunnels. Bigheaded ants have two different-sized workers known as major workers and minor workers. The major workers can be anywhere from about 1/8 inch long to ¼ inch long. Additionally, they have very large heads in comparison to the rest of their bodies, which is how the ant got its name.