There are more than 700 species of ants in the United States, but a few are notorious for invading homes. If you’re dealing with carpenter ants, an ant infestation can cause serious structural damage to your house. And other species can just be a plain nuisance, so it's important to know how to help keep them away.

How to Help Keep Ants Away From Your House

Depending on what part of the country you live in, some of the most common ants that may make their way inside your home include: 

Acrobat Ants

These ants are light brown to black, and workers are known to lift their abdomen when threatened, giving them their name. Acrobat ants typically enter homes while looking for food or nesting places, and they most frequently gain entry through cracks or gaps around door frames. These ants are not known for being particularly destructive, but they can nest in walls, foam insulation boards or wood. They can also pose a risk by stripping insulation from electrical and telephone wires, which can cause short circuits. Scattered or small piles of fine sawdust around your home could be a sign of an acrobat ant infestation. However, this can also be a sign of other home invaders, like drywood termites. So, it's important to contact a pest control professional if you notice those small piles.

Argentine Ants

Known for invading homes in Southern California and the Gulf Coast region of the United States, Argentine ants are about one-eighth of an inch long and are dark brown to black in color. They generally live outdoors in large colonies numbering in the thousands, but they can also make their homes behind brick, under insulation or in wall voids. They can live in very large and interconnected colonies, which makes them very difficult to control.

Ongoing treatments, including locating and treating the nest, are the best line of defense against Argentine ants, especially in Southern California. This is best done by a trained pest control professional.

Carpenter Ants

Known for being destructive, carpenter ants excavate wood in order to form nests, including the wood found in home structures. There are numerous species of this ant in the U.S, and it is a common ant species found in homes in the northern portion of the country. Carpenter ants form colonies near sources of moisture, usually in wood. In homes, this moisture may come from a water leak or a damp crawl space or attic. Satellite colonies may also be found in walls, curtain rods or hollow doors.

A carpenter ant infestation requires professional treatment. The ants you see are likely just the satellite colony, and the primary colony is usually located outside. However, the primary colony must be treated to fully remove the ant infestation.

Crazy Ants

Crazy ants, including the tawny crazy ant, are known for invading homes in an erratic trailing movement. Their range extends across the U.S., but they are especially common along the Gulf Coast. These small, golden-brown to reddish-brown ants can form colonies in carpets, walls and even houseplants.

Little Black Ants

Often seen inside houses, little black ants frequently travel between their nest and their food source. They are attracted to sweets and may be drawn into your home by spills or crumbs in your kitchen. More nuisance than destructor, these ants can establish colonies behind brick, inside a wall, under a slab or beneath carpet near a doorway.

Odorous House Ants

While they are not known to cause structural damage, odorous house ants can nest in walls, beneath carpet or in other voids. These ants are found from California to Washington, as well as in southeastern states. Worker ants produce an odor when crushed, however this smell can usually only be detected when the ant is crushed close to your nose.

Eliminating colonies and subcolonies is essential to treating odorous house ants.

Pharaoh Ants

Pharoah ants look just like little black ants, minus the color, as these ants are yellowish to light brown or even reddish-brown. However, they behave differently. They are frequently found in kitchens and bathrooms because they typically settle near sources of moisture. They can also travel to other areas of the house through plumbing pipes and electrical wires. They have even been found in furniture and folded sheets. Pharaoh ants feed on virtually anything, from sweets to toothpaste, so your home can be a smorgasbord.

Like most species of ants, DIY treatments can cause pharaoh ant colonies to splinter and spread. A professional pest control company will know how to identify this ant and properly treat an infestation.

General Tips to Help Keep Ants Away

The appropriate and most effective method of ant control depends on the species that is present in your home. However, there are a few general tips you can follow to help keep ants away from your house:

  1. Properly seal any gaps, cracks or other potential points of entry into your home
  2. Ensure water is diverted away from your home and the foundation, basement or crawl space
  3. Move piles of lumber or other materials that may serve as nesting sites away from your home’s foundation
  4. Keep your kitchen tidy by immediately cleaning up any spills and crumbs

Though these tips can help make your home less attractive to ants, they may still be able to find their way inside. In order to properly identify the ants in your home and help ensure that they are effectively treated, it is best to contact a pest control professional. The team of professionals at Terminix® can assess your home and recommend treatment solutions.