Common Ants and How to Kill Them

While there are more than 12,000 known species of ant, only a handful are a threat to your home by spoiling your food and spreading bacterial and viral diseases.

Ants can find and eat something from the trash that’s had contact with different forms of human waste, and can carry infections this way.

Depending on the type of ant and their position in the colony, ants can live anywhere between 30 days to 12 years.

The two most common ants found in homes are Carpenter ants and Sugar ants.

Carpenter Ants

These are the most common ants found in North America, and have many different physical attributes. Carpenter ants excavate wood in order to create nests. The nests are typically outside in trees or lumber. Inside, they prefer roofs and woodwork near moisture as they need a source of water to survive. 

These ants feed on honeydew producing insects such as aphids. Homes in woodlands are at risk for structural damage. Some species are aggressive and will sting or bite if their nest is disturbed. Carpenter ants have powerful jaws and their bites can be painful.

They may also inject formic acid into the bite wound, creating a burning sensation.

However, this pain will subside and does not pose a significant health threat.

Be sure to regularly inspect and maintain:

  • insulation
  • crawl spaces
  • attics
  • basements
  • branches and other plants that extend to your house’s exterior

Sugar Ants or Argentine Ants

Sugar Ant

Sugar ants, also known as odor ants, do not bite but carry helminth eggs and other infections that are dangerous to human health such as streptococcus, staphylococcus, and dysentery. They pose a large threat to those with weaker immune systems and to those with open wounds. The insects react to the smell of blood. Sugar ants can even get under bandage and infect wounds.

They’re called odorous because they have a coconut or rum-like smell when crushed. They’re considered one of the most common house ants.

In nature, they are often found nesting in acorns, or under leaf litter and organic debris. In urbanized areas, these ants can completely transform, constructing super colonies that extend over many square kilometers. As their name suggests, they like sugar, sweets, jellies, jam, candies, bread products, fish, and other fatty foods

Pavement Ants

As their name suggests, these ants like to make their homes in pavements. They are small, black-brown insects with lighter legs and antennae. They can be distinguished by their spines and grooves along the body.

During colder winter months, they nest closer to homes near heat sources such as water heaters. They are commonly found on the East Coast, Mid-West, West Coast, and sometimes found in the South.  

If provoked, they can bite and sting. Although it may be painful and annoying, it does not have serious side effects. These ants still pose a threat to spreading diseases and contamination.

Similarly to carpenter ants, they pose a threat to your home’s structure by excavating sand and uprooting patio stones. 

They typically eat honeydew, insects, sweets, fruit, greasy foods, and even pet food. You can bait pavement ants with these foods. Using a typical repellent risks scattering the colony, so it’s best to call (833) 431-0401 for a local exterminator.

Ghost Ants

These ants are adaptable and colonies can range in the thousands. Ghost ants can enter structures through sidewalks, patios, and foundations.

These ants travel along carpet edges and electrical wires in walls, therefore making it hard to spot them. They are also attracted to moisture, so they can often be found in a home’s water source.

Be sure to look for the following when inspecting for Ghost ants:

  • cavities and crevices in dead tree branches and logs 
  • under stones, leaves, potted plants, and other garden debris
  • sinks, shower stalls, tubs, and other water sources that may leak
  • around windows, doors, carpet edges for trails of ants
  • electrical outlets and telephone jacks in the kitchen and bathroom

Ghost ants are attracted to sweet foods and can be found on kitchen counters, and around the kitchen in general.

This can be dangerous as, although they do not bite, they are known to make nests inside homes. These ants also give off a sweet smell when crushed like sugar ants. 

Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh Ants

Similarly to Ghost ants, Pharaoh ants are adaptable. The colony will establish new colonies if previous ones have been disturbed. Pharaoh ants eat sweets, oils, proteins, and other dead insects.

These ants nest in warm, humid areas near food and water sources that are inaccessible such as walls, baseboards, furniture, and under floors. They are commonly found in food establishments and other commercial buildings like hotels, grocery stores, and hospitals.

This can make them especially dangerous as they are known to spread disease and other food-borne illnesses. In hospitals, they are known to enter wounds, IV bottles, and even in the mouths of sleeping patients.

If you suspect your establishment is infected with Pharaoh ants, call an exterminator immediately at (833) 431-0401.

Moisture Ants

Moisture Ants

Moisture ants are typically yellow or lighter brown. They get their name because they are attracted to moist places and need lots of water to survive. You can find them in the water sources and leaks in your home. They are typically found in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Midwest.  

These ants can further decay wood structures. Unlike sugar ants, these ants are larger and require much more water. It is important to distinguish these ants from sugar and carpenter ants because treatment is much different and may not be as effective.

Check for these signs of Moisture ants:

  • A frothy substance coming out from wall seams
  • Clods of soil around a water pipe, wooden sill plate, or wall stud
  • The Lemony scent of citronella

To confirm if your home has a moisture ant infestation, call your local exterminator at (833) 431-0401 .

Rover Ants

Many people may already have a few Rover nests in and around their home, but it may not be apparent.

These are the smallest type of ant and have small nests, making it incredibly hard to find them. They typically live in cities and can be found crawling around cinder blocks, structural foundations, electrical outlets, wall voids, and light sockets.

Although these ants do not bite humans, they can transmit diseases and bacteria. Rover ants prefer sweets and substances produced by aphids. Be sure to check ant water sources for these ants.

Fire Ants

Fire Ants AKA Spicyboys

Fire ants can range from 2 millimetres to 6 millimetres within the same colony.

They live in garden debris such as leaf piles and will dig nests in the ground. Their nests must be moist with lots of sunlight. The nest can be found in gardens, lawns, parks, fields, and meadows. Fire ants may nest close to food sources such as homes or commercial buildings for convenience.

Although they are typically found in warmer climates, they have been found in environments as cold as Canada.

It is vital to take extreme caution with Fire ants, as their bites can be very painful and possibly fatal to small animals.

They will bite and then release a venom through their stinger that will create a burning sensation. Although most humans will only have a mild reaction to the bite, recent studies have found that their venom may affect the nervous system.

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience the following after a Fire ant bite:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Swelling of the tongue or throat
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

Crazy Ants

Crazy Ants

Crazy ants get their name for their erratic, aimless, and “crazy” movements when disturbed, making them difficult to track and control. They can be identified by their large legs and “longhorn” antennae.

Although these ants do not have a painful bite, they are known to swarm within electronic devices and on humans. Worker ants will typically die-off when temperatures drop, but queens will reproduce larger colonies the following spring. 

These ants are attracted to both sweets and protein.  They are predators, foragers and scavengers, but some colonies only desire protein during the summer months. Bait Crazy ants with both a sweet substance and a protein.

Some states have restrictions on the insecticide used to commonly kill them. Because of this and their erratic behavior, it is best to call an experienced exterminator at (833) 431-0401 if you find Crazy ants.

How To Kill Ants

Most ants will commonly be attracted to three things: sweets, grease/fat, and protein. Because of this, there are lots of natural and DIY ways to kill ants. To kill ants on your own, create bait with the following recipes then clean the affected areas.

Here are some proven natural baits:


Combine all of the ingredients below in a saucepan. Bring to a boil for three minutes and allow it to cool completely. The mixture will begin to thicken as it cools.

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. borax (boric acid)
  • 2 cups sugar

The borax and sugar paste is used like any other bait. You can apply it directly to the floor, window sill or other entry point. If you don’t want to make a mess, you can place the bait on a piece of cardboard or paper.

Jam, Jelly, or Honey

For this recipe you’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp. borax
  • Jam, jelly, or honey

Combine the borax with just enough of your sweet substance to make a paste. Spread the paste on a piece of paper or a covered container that has holes in it.

Peanut Butter

This bait will work best with protein or fat-loving ants like Thief ants, Pharaoh ants, and Fire ants. You’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp. borax
  • Peanut butter

Mix the two ingredients until it forms a paste. Spread the paste on a paper plate, piece of paper, or another container then place it along the ant trail.

Be sure to put your bait in the right place. Pay attention to where the ants are coming from. Follow the trail, or look for openings and cracks near the spot you found the ants. Placing the bait along this entryway will attract the ants quickly.

Now that you know where the trail is, keep the area clean. Although borax is safe to use in your home, it can be harmful to ingest. Use vinegar to naturally clean these areas and destroy the ant’s pheromone trail. Make sure that you continue to wipe down the ant trails with vinegar while the bait is working. 

Secure Your Home

After you’ve baited the ants and cleaned out the point of entry, it’s time to protect against the ants re-entering your home. 

Mint and Cinnamon

Peppermint and cinnamon are natural insect repellents. Planting mint around entryways, or placing a few drops of peppermint essential oil around suspected areas will create a protective barrier but beware as this is often harmful to household pets like dogs and cats!

An alternative is to sprinkle cinnamon in former entry areas. Ants hate it, and your home will smell amazing!  

Although there are lots of methods on how to kill ants on your own, to assure your home has been completely dispelled of pests, call your local exterminator at (833) 431-0401