Several of the ant species shown below have become a great concern throughout Florida.
White Footed Ant
Description: White Footed Ants are very small, typically 1/8”. This black to brownish-black ant has yellowish-white feet and one segmented waist.
Attractions: Strongly attracted to sweet foods. They will also feed on dead insects and other protein. These ants tend to gather in and on structures in lines and gather on the edge of exterior wall panels and cables, which eventually leads them to some small opening to the interior. They often emerge into kitchens and bathrooms, where liquid and sweet substances can be found.
Damage: These ants do not bite or sting, nor have they been reported to cause any structural damage. They’re considered a nuisance pest in Florida because they forage in kitchens, bathrooms, and the exterior of buildings.
Big Headed Ant
Description: Big Headed Ants are very small, roughly 1/8”. They vary in color from shades of red, brown, or light yellow. There are 2 distinctive sizes (1/8” to ¼”) which represent the minor and major workers. The minor workers’ body regions are proportionate in size whereas the major workers’ heart-shaped head is disproportionately larger than the rest of the body.
Seasonality: Year-round, may swarm during mating season in mid-summer.
Attractions: Indoors, big-headed ants will feed on fats, meats, oily foods such as peanut butter and sweet foods. Big-headed ants may be seen trailing along edges of foundations, driveways, sidewalks and other structural guidelines. They may construct mud tubes on foundations and other structures protecting their trails and entry areas. The tubes may be mistaken for termite mud tubes but are more fragile. Indoors, these ants may be seen trailing along baseboards and under carpet edges. Often these trails are from outdoor nests.
Damage: None, nuisance pest.
Black Crazy Ant
Description: Black Crazy Ants are uniformly dark brown to black and are about 1/8″ in length. Upon close inspection they have longer legs and antennae than other ants their same size.
Attractions: Crazy ants can utilize household food sources that are either greasy and/or sweet. These ants can completely cover food in a very short period of time. Foragers access buildings on the ground or over branches touching the structure and enter through holes or exterior cracks around windows and doors. Indoors, they may be seen foraging along baseboards and carpet edges with trails up to a hundred feet long. They have loose, unorganized trails, and when disturbed, run erratically with no apparent direction.
Damage: None, nuisance pest.
Caribbean Crazy Ant
Description: The Caribbean Crazy Ant is golden-brown to reddish-brown in color. Their body surface is smooth and glossy. They are named “crazy” due to their swift and erratic movements.
Seasonality: Year-round but they have not been observed outside their nests in temperatures below 60 degrees.
Attractions: This ant is new to Florida and has only been observed for the last 5 years. Researchers believe this pest entered Florida via cargo in the Port of Miami and the Port of St. Lucie where the first infestations were found. The Caribbean Crazy Ant travels in large numbers with thousands of ants trailing along sidewalks, in shrubs, and around buildings.
Damage: This ant does not bite or sting. It is considered a nuisance pest because of the large numbers they travel in.
Description: Head, thorax, and body are reddish to orange with a black front body section. These ants are fairly large and range in size from 1/5″ to1/2″ in length. Note: Due to their similarities with Termites, professional identification is recommended.
Seasonality: Year-round, may swarm during mating season.
Attractions: Carpenter ants in Florida are highly attracted to damaged wood. Signs of a Carpenter Ant infestation are small piles of “sawdust” which are produced from their nest excavations. Usually these piles are near a nest. They may also contain bits of dead ants and other insects. If bits of insulation foam are seen in the piles, it may be a sign of nests in structural foam elements. Carpenter Ant colonies produce male and female swarmers (ants with wings) that take flight in the spring. The timing and numbers of flights within a season varies by species.
Damage: Carpenter ants do not eat wood but rather excavate it to form galleries for nesting. These ants are very destructive and should be treated by a professional.
Description: Fire Ant colonies contain workers of different sizes ranging from 1/8″ to 1/4″ in length. They are generally uniform in color and are dark brown to red.
Seasonality: Year-round, may swarm several times from spring to fall.
Attractions: These ants are attracted to warm, humid environments with annual rainfall of 10” or more. The most recognizable sign of a Fire Ant infestation is the dome shaped mounds they create in the ground and the protective behavior of workers who pour out of disturbed mounds to attack and sting intruders. AVOID THESE MOUNDS and call a professional immediately for treatment.
Damage: People, pets and other animals unknowingly disturb their mounds and are quickly covered with stinging ants. Significant illness and deaths have occurred from allergic reactions to their venom. Fire ant venom is unique in the insect world as it produces an immediate and painful stinging, burning sensation. Later, white pustules will form on the skin at the site of the sting.
SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY IF SEVERE ALLERGIC REACTION OCCURS
Description: Ghost ants are tiny ants approximately 1/16” in length. Their head and thorax are dark and their abdomen and legs are light, almost translucent. This coloration and their small size make them hard to see and earns them their ghostly name.
Attractions: Indoors they are attracted to sweet and protein foods and may infest packages of these foods if accessible. These ants move quickly in a line following their own odor trail and gain entry to interiors through crevices around doors, windows, utility pipe and wire entry areas. Foragers are often seen indoors on sinks, counters and floors of kitchens and bathrooms but they are not restricted to those areas. They often move throughout a building via wires in wall voids and under edges of carpeting. Their indoor nests can be in wall voids, between and behind cabinets and in potted plants. Nests have even been found in spaces between books, folded clothes and behind loose edges of wallpaper.
Damage: None, considered a nuisance pest.