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Indoor Ants & Invasions!

Indoor Ants & Invasions!

Ant trail

Sprawling trails of ants on counters, desks, and kitchen floors are a common sight in spring and summer for many. Ants that venture indoors are in search of resources they can bring back to their nest, which is typically established outdoors. Scout ants search for protein to feed their growing larvae, as well as for sugars and moisture. The presence of any of these resources are usually enough to attract a large number of ants, which can be seen trailing in kitchens, office break rooms, and bathrooms.

How do I know if I have winged ants or termites?

The swarming of winged insects indoors is often a cause of great concern to homeowners and property managers. No one is happy with either winged ants or termites, but it is important to distinguish between these pests before proceeding with a treatment plan. With close observation, a winged ant is distinguished by its elbowed antennae, thin “waist” and a front pair of wings distinctly larger than the rear pair of wings.

Winged termites look very similar to winged ants; they are similar in size and both are dark in color, unlike the off-white termite workers. However, termite antennae are not bent, and instead appear as a string of beads. Termites do not have a distinctly constricted waist, and have long wings whose front pair are the same length as the back pair. It’s important to note that it is often difficult to see that an insect has two pairs of wings, so look closely to tell the two pairs apart!

Illustration of flying termite and flying ant
Winged termite (top) compared to a winged ant (bottom). Note how both pairs of wings on the termite are the same length.


What kind of ants do I have?

The most commonly encountered ant species in the home is the odorous house ant, also sometimes called sugar ants. As ants go, this species is about medium in size, 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch long. The term “odorous” refers to the distinct, sweet and acrid smell released when one is crushed. The presence of this smell is an easy way to identify this ant!

Odorous house ants (sugar ants) feeding on bait
Odorous house ants on a windowsill


The pavement ant, which looks similar to the odorous house ant at first glance, has much slower movement and is less likely to run rapidly when disturbed. The pharaoh ant is also a common invader, but is much smaller and lighter in color. Both of these species are also in search of food and moisture in your home.

The ant species collectively known as carpenter ants are variable in size, but for the most part are noticeably larger than other pest ants. Carpenter ants prefer to nest in wood that has been damaged by moisture, but can damage sound wood as they expand their nest. Unlike termites, they do not eat wood as food, and thus cause less damage than termites.

Carpenter ant
Carpenter ant

What can I do about ants?

The number one step to help reduce ant infestations is to limit spilled food and moisture. Once scout ants find these attractive conditions they will establish a trail and summon other members of their colony. Outside a building, prevent plants from touching the exterior to reduce the number of possible travel routes, and keep ornamental plants free of aphids to make the area outside your building less attractive to ants. Keep windows caulked and in good condition to limit the number of ways that ants can enter a building. It is important not to use insecticidal sprays on ant trails inside the building. While this may kill the workers directly exposed, the rest of the colony will likely find a new path inside and may even move their nest to a location even more difficult to treat.

What can a pest control company do about ants?

When a professional pest control company approaches any ant problem the first step is to identify the ant species. Next, they will identify any conducive conditions that may make your home or office more attractive to ants. The treatment itself may use exclusion, specialized baits, exterior treatments, or a combination of these tactics. Follow-up visits are sometimes needed for more entrenched populations.

Contact us today to learn how we can help solve your ant problem! Ask about our comprehensive Perimeter Defense Plus program, which covers your home for ant treatments as well as for termites, mice, cockroaches, and more!