Did you know that queen ants have been known to live as long as 20 years or more? Or that as many as 100,000 worker ants can inhabit just one colony? In fact, these are characteristics of the most common ants in Virginia! Keep reading to learn the specifics about the four most common ant species in the state.
Little Black Ants, as the name suggests, are only 1/16 of an inch (2 mm) in length and jet black. They have two node segments, an uneven thorax with no spines, and have a very small, weak stinger. The end of the antennae are 3-segmented and clubbed shaped. Colonies of little black ants are small and will readily move to other locations when disturbed. For this reason, these ants are commonly found indoors in decaying wood and masonry, and outdoors in soil under rocks or debris. Nests are characterized by small craters, commonly seen on foundation walls and along sidewalks.
Carpenter Ants are much larger at 1/4-1/2 of an inch (7-13 mm) in length, and are also black. These ants have a single node segment, a spineless thorax, and no stinger. The antennae are long and thin. Colonies of carpenter ants can have more than 15,000 workers, with parent colonies located outside of the home. Although these ants prefer moist, decayed wood, they tend to expand into sound wood as well. Most foraging is done at night, and a single carpenter ant can travel as far as 300 feet or more from the nest!
Odorous House Ants are called so because of the rotten, coconut-like odor emitted when they are crushed. They are 1/8 of an inch (3.5 mm) in length and have a brownish tint to them. They possess a small node that is hidden by the abdomen, an uneven and spineless thorax, and no stinger. Their colonies have as many as 100,000 workers and many queens. They are most likely to enter the home when they turn into super colonies and food becomes scarce among the large numbers. Nests are typically outside, found in the soil under objects.
Pavement Ants are 1/8 of an inch (3.5 mm) in length and have a black body with legs and antennae that have a brown tint. Characteristic of most workers, these ants have parallel grooves on their head and thorax. Like the little black ant, it’s antennae are clubbed. They have an uneven thorax with two spines, two node segments, and a stinger that is present but rarely used. Colonies of pavement ants will typically have 3,000 to 4,000 ants. Usually nesting in soil, heat sources in winter can draw them indoors into walls, insulation and under floors. Nests in the soil are characterized by a “dirt crater” at the opening.