Although ants may appear little, it would be incorrect to describe them as helpless. These little critters can lift around 50 times their own weight, making them somewhat akin to the powerful Hercules. Closely related to the wasps and bees, ants are ground-walking (or wall-crawling) insects that have been around for almost 130 million years!
14 of the approximately 12,000 identified ant species—of which there are over 12,000 worldwide—can be found in Florida. The 14 ant species that may be found in Florida are listed below:
Let’s find out more about these little critters, including their characteristics and preferred breeding locations.
Florida Carpenter Ant
With the exception of the Southern areas, the Florida Carpenter Ant (Camponotus floridanus) is extensively dispersed across the state.
These ants are distinguishable due to their two colors. The gaster (abdomen) is black, while the head and thorax are brown or ash-brown in color.
These ants nest on wood because they are carpenter ants. They are frequently linked to wood-destroying carpenter ants.
Florida Carpenter Ants, on the other hand, only utilise the wood that other ant species have dug up. As opposed to other carpenter ants, they are less hostile toward people and may pass through severely damaged wood.
According to certain research, Florida Carpenter Ants are one of the species that are most frequently discovered in the walls of urban dwellings in the state.
They are highly prevalent in the Miami area, Tampa Bay, and Orlando.
Tiny Ants or Sugar Ants
Sugar ants are the little, black ants you frequently observe in your kitchen. These little ants are harmful to food, yet they are safe for people. They will almost certainly help themselves to your pantry or cabinets because they are drawn to carbohydrates and sweets. If the dishwasher door is not kept shut, sugar ants may also be present.
Argentine Ant (Linepithema Humile)
The Argentine Ant is an ant species that is native to Argentina and is endemic to several South African nations, including Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
Physical characteristics include a tiny body, a flattened head, a short thorax, a single petiole, and thin legs for the Argentine Ant. The workers have a drab brown tint, but the males and queens are a little bit darker. Most of their body is evenly colored, although there is some variance.
The workers’ legs are a lighter shade of brown, and their mandibles are yellow. Males have yellow mandibles, antennae, and legs whereas females have yellow mandibles with reddish legs and antennae. The queens are the colony’s hairiest individuals.
Habitat and range: Argentine ants are invasive species all over the world, despite having their origins in South Africa.
Red Imported Fire Ant
From South America, Red Imported Fire Ants (Solenopsis invicta) migrated to the US.
This invasive species is thought to have been brought to Florida beginning around 1933.
Most Red Imported Fire Ants have a growth range of 2 to 10 mm. From crimson to brown, they are.
These ants don’t survive very long; the majority usually only live for 30 to 90 days.
Red Imported Fire ants are dangerous to humans because they can bite and sting. When disturbed, the species is known to become aggressive.
According to studies, its bites don’t hurt. These ants have harsh alkaloids in their sting, which is why it hurts.
Foragers are red fire ants. They may be spotted searching for food, such as dead vertebrates, insects, mammals, and worms.
These ants will occasionally look for honeydew. They may also be found in houses, where food or unwashed clothes are probably what draws them in.
Red Ants or Fire Ants
Fire ants are the red ants that you often find in your garden or yard. Even if you are not allergic to them, their bites can still leave you with severe bites and itching welts, which is why they are known as fire ants.
Red ants in Florida have the ability to sting repeatedly, and they will do so even if they are not in danger. As a result, red ants are among Florida’s most vexing and potentially lethal ant species.
Ghost Ant (Tapinoma Melanocphalum)
Due to their somewhat transparent bodies, the Ghost Ants are an ant species.
A double petiole, a short body with a small head, and a gaster that is considerably bigger than their head distinguish these ants from other species. All of their legs, together with their twelve segmented antennae and gaster, are transparent, but their head and petiole are completely black.
They have extremely thick antennal tips, and they have two dark spots on their gaster that appear to have been blotched. They appear even more diminutive due to their transparent nature. The sole difference between the queens’ and workers’ coloring is a somewhat broader midsection.
Range and habitat: Ghost ants may currently be found all over the world, with the exception of very cold climates, yet it is impossible to pinpoint their exact origins.
Florida Harvester Ant
The majority of these widespread Florida ants (Pogonomyrmex badius) are dark rusty red. Long hairs on the ventral side help to further differentiate them from other dark red ants.
Florida Harvester worker Ants can have diverse color variants and are polymorphic, coming in various sizes.
In forests, particularly in wide, sandy regions, Florida harvester ants are present (they build nests in the ground).
These ants gather food and store it inside the nest since they are harvesters.
Florida Ants called harvester are well recognized for gathering different kinds of seeds. These are kept in their subterranean nests in elaborate, special storage chambers.
The species has the ability to pull different seeds out of the ground as well as pick them up. The majority of these seeds are ragweed and crabgrass.
Carpenter Ants or Bull Ants
Bull ants are another name for carpenter ants. These ants dig up soft substances like rotting wood or Styrofoam in search of crevices where they may build their nests. Bull ants can be black, red, or a mix of the two colors in Florida. It’s crucial to use caution while dealing with bull ants since their bites may be excruciatingly painful.
White-Footed Ant (Technomyrmex Albipes)
First discovered by Frederick Smith in Indonesia in 1816, the White-footed Ants are an ant species that are confined to the Indo-Pacific areas.
The moniker “white-footed ant” refers to a little species of black ant with light bottom legs. They have flattened petioles and twelve-segmented antennae. Their gaster appears to be bending slightly downwards and is rounded at one end before becoming smaller at the other. All throughout their bodies are sporadic white hairs.
Range and habitat: Although native to the Indo-Pacific region, White-footed Ants have been imported to North America, Africa, Australia, the Caribbean, and some regions of Asia.
Buren’s Pyramid Ant
In Florida and the remainder of the US, soft sandy soils and open woods are frequent habitats for Buren’s Pyramid Ants (Dorymyrmex bureni).
These ants are well recognized for having a single node between their thorax and abdomen, but they are also well known for creating little pyramid-shaped nests.
The name of the species is derived from the way the excavated dirt is piled up, resembling a pyramid.
Since they prefer to create nests adjacent to harvester ant nests where they may take their food, these ants rarely construct nests in extremely isolated locations.
Since they prefer to reside outside in disturbed soils, these ants aren’t thought to pose a significant danger to Florida houses. In the near future, they could still venture inside in quest of food and water.
The worst ant you could ever find in your house is a pharaoh ant. Pharaoh ants may withstand the majority of common household pesticides and require expert treatment to be eradicated.
Sweet, fatty, and oily foods appeal to these ants. The hue of pharaoh ants can range from yellow to crimson. Pharaoh ants, like ghost ants, only bite when they feel threatened.
Pavement Ant (Tetramorium Immigrans)
The ant species known as the Pavement Ants is unique to Europe. In North America, these ants are also known as “Sugar Ants” and “Immigrant Pavement Ants.” Their unusual propensity to construct nests beneath sidewalks earned them the moniker.
Appearance: The Pavement Ants have bodies that range in hue from dark brown to black. They have a single queen, alates, and workers in their colony. The size of the alates is twice that of the workers, and they have wings, much like the queens.
Range and habitat: Pavement ants have adapted to life in cities while preferring to reside in underground nests. These ants were brought to North America and are now a serious nuisance.
Graceful Twig Ant
Pseudomyrmex gracilis ants are orange-brown or brown-black in color. They have a body that mimics wasps, two huge eyes, and a growth range of 8 to 10mm.
Since they may be found in a variety of habitats, graceful twig ants don’t have any particular nesting preferences.
However, these ants can only be spotted in a few places throughout Florida. In the state, acacia trees host them.
Since they don’t reside inside dwellings, these ants aren’t considered pests. Although they have a highly terrible sting, humans should still avoid them.
Thief Ant (Solenopsis Molesta)
The Thief Ants are a kind of ant that belongs to the Fire Ant genus and were given their name because they have a propensity to steal food from other ants’ nests. According to certain research, these ants are drawn to grease, which is why some people also refer to them as “Grease Ants.”
Thief ants have a two-segment petiole that connects their gaster to their thorax. The workers have a pale-yellow body and are the smallest members of the genus. They have antennae with 10 segments and a club shape.
The males have a brown body and are a little bigger than the workers. Their antennae and legs are yellow, though. The queens, who make up the majority of the colony, have antennae with eleven segments. Their thorax and head are brown in color, while their body is yellow.
Range and habitat: The thief ants are native to the Nearctic areas and are more frequently seen in the eastern United Nations member states. These ants are adaptable to living in urban and suburban environments, despite the fact that they prefer to nest in meadows and fields.
A fun fact about the Queen Thief Ants is that they have two sets of hyaline wings, which they shed after mating.
Compact Carpenter Ant
An ant species with an ambiguous name is the Compact Carpenter Ant (Camponotus planatus). As an arboreal ant species that causes structural damage to homes, it is considered a pest in Florida.
The species’ behavior is most frequently compared to that of Florida Carpenter Ants.
In fact, nesting Compact Carpenter Ants are frequently discovered close to Florida Carpenter Ants.
The Florida Keys, East Miami, and Tampa serve as the primary habitats for the species in the state.
These ants are known to reach maximum lengths of three to six ants.
They have an ash brown thorax and a brown-black abdomen, which they share with other carpenter ants in terms of coloring.
These ants don’t sting.
Being a diurnal species (unlike many other carpenter ant species), compact carpenter ants are frequently observed in and around the home.
Usually found on a home’s outside walls, the species is also occasionally seen interior.
Compact Florida Carpenter Ants build their nests in tunnels carved out by termites and other ants in hollow branches and aged wood. Dead wood is where you’ll always find the nest.
Rover Ant (Brachymyrmex Sp.)
The 44 identified species that make up the Rover Ant family are distinguished by their little size and straightforward form.
Appearance: Due to their tiny size, as we have previously discussed, it is difficult to describe how these ants seem. Their body is a light brown color, and they have scanty hair and antennae that are smaller than those of most other ants.
Habitat and geographic range: The Rover Ant’s natural range include the Caribbean islands, Chile, and Argentina in addition to the neotropical parts of the world. However, their species have been brought to Madagascar and the Asian nation of Japan.
Longhorn Crazy Ant
Paratrechina longicornis, often known as the longhorn crazy ant, has dark brown bodies. Additionally, they have gray or white hair.
In Florida, these ants have been considered a nuisance since the early 1930s.
The majority of Longhorn Crazy Ants are found to inhabit both dry and humid environments both inside and outside.
Since these ants frequently store seeds and other supplies within the nest, the simplest approach to locate the nest is to follow someone bringing food.
Open food within the home attracts them. Keeping all edibles out of sight is the main step in getting rid of these ants from houses.
Foods of all kinds draw these ants. They supposedly enjoy sweet things like berries in the summer.
In the spring, they like protein-rich meals like rotting insects.
Big-Headed Ant (Pheidole Megacephala)
One of the top 100 worst invaders in the world is the ant species known as the big-headed ant. In Australia, these ants are referred to as “Coastal Brown Ants.”
Appearance: The Big-headed Ants, as its name indicates, have a head that is noticeably larger than the rest of their body. They have a wide range of body colors, from yellowish and reddish-brown to black.
The lower portion of their skull is smooth and glossy, while the front is sculptured. They feature a pair of curled antennae with a club-like tip and big mandibles that are useful for breaking the seeds. Their body is covered with long, scant hair, and on their waist are two spines that point upward.
The Major (soldier) and the Minor Workers are the two different categories of workers for big-headed ants. The size of the Minor Workers is around half that of the Major Workers.
Habitat and range: Big-headed Ants live and move in massive colonies while constructing their nests in the dirt found close to foundations. Their nests can also be found in fences, firewood, leaf litter, etc. These ants have already invaded numerous states in the United States as well as Australia, despite the fact that it is difficult to pinpoint where they first appeared.
Acrobat Ant (Crematogaster Sp.)
A family of ants known as the “Acrobat Ants” has around 420 documented species living in it with a diversified geographic distribution throughout the world. These ants are known as “Saint Valentine Ants” because of their distinctive gaster, which has a heart-shaped appearance.
The heads of acrobat ants are substantially smaller than their gasters, and they have a medium-sized body overall. Different species have different body colors, however the majority of them have a black gaster.
While some of them do not have a black gaster, those who do nonetheless have a darker-colored gaster than the rest of their body. Although they lack lengthy antennas, they can chew through thick objects thanks to their keen mandibles.
Habitat and range: As we’ve already mentioned, these ants are found all throughout the planet.
Fun fact: Whenever they perceive a threat, all Acrobat Ants have a propensity to raise their abdomens upward. They are often referred to as “Cocktail Ants” because to their unique behavior.