There are many different ants in the insect kingdom. In fact, there are more than 12,000 different species of ants in the world. Identifying different types of ants can require specialized magnification equipment and skill. It is often best left to professional Oklahoma pest control companies. But that doesn’t mean that the average person can’t learn about these things. In this article, we will be identifying the most common ant species here in Oklahoma, and a little about each one.
Insect identification is one of the skills employed by entomologists. An entomologist is a scientist who studies insects. These scientists not only study insects, but they find ways to better function with insects, beneficial uses for insects, disease control and a host of other things. They work for government, agrochemical companies, Tulsa pest control companies, food processing, parkland and golf course management and many other places. If you are interested in this field, identification of ants and other bugs is right up your alley.
Ants are social insects. They live in colonies with millions of other ants. This means that if you see one, you can probably find more. In order to get a good look at them, you will need to catch one. The best way to catch one for study is to pick it up on a cloth wetted with alcohol. Then place it in a small vial with alcohol. This will kill the ant, and preserve it for study.
Ant bodies, like most insects, have three distinct sections. The head is in the front of the insect, and holds the mouth parts, antenna, and eyes. The thorax is the middle section. It is the motor skills portion because the legs all attach here. Lastly, the abdomen is at the end of the insect. This part holds the vital organs of the insect. Between the thorax and the abdomen are joining parts called pedicels. The presence or number of pedicels helps to determine the type of ant.
ODOROUS HOUSE ANT
This ant is dark brown to black in color and is 1/8” long. They have a single pedicel, but it is hidden under their abdomen when looking from above. They are often seen trailing one another. If you crush one of these ants, they emit a rotten coconut like smell. These ants often start outside, but because of their love of sweet things, often find their way inside. They are the most common indoor ant seen by Tulsa exterminators.
The argentine ant is a shiny brown color and around 1/12” long. They have an uneven thorax and a single pedicel. This ant is native to Argentina and therefor is an invasive species. The argentine ant predominantly stays outdoors, but will come in to forage for food and water.
BIG HEADED ANT
The big headed ant comes in two sizes, the smaller worker ant is around 1/10” and the larger soldiers are 1/7”. The soldiers, as the name implies, have large heads with powerful jaws. These ants are predominantly seed eaters that prefer the outdoors, but sometimes make their way inside to shelter in winter. On an interesting note, often the small workers will kill the soldiers once winter arrives because they are no longer needed, and their large size requires too many resources.
Fire ants in Oklahoma come mostly in two species… the native fire ant and the imported fire ant. As the names imply, one has come from Brazil and is an invasive species. The imported fire ant is quickly displacing the native one, and is a nuisance in many areas. Both of these ants have a painful sting and should be avoided. The native fire ant is smaller with two pedicels and a somewhat large head for its body. The imported fire ant is a little bit larger, reddish brown with two pedicels. The larger head of the native fire ant is the defining characteristic of this ant species.
These ants are small yellowish ants with a red abdomen and two pedicels. They feed on a variety of foods and are much feared in hospitals because of their propensity to feed on open wounds. These ants don’t trail as much as other ants, so finding their nest can be difficult. They can nest in odd places such as linens, appliances and paper products.
These ants are about a 1/4” in size with two dominant pedicels. Their bodies are highly sculptured with hair all over. These ants prefer to build their nests in cracks in the pavement, or near rocks. They like the outdoors, but while foraging for food, they can find their way into homes. Pavement ants can bite, but they are not as painful as other pests. A good Oklahoma exterminator can keep them out of your home.
Thief ants are one of the smallest ants in Oklahoma at 1/16” in length. They are yellowish in color, much like pharaoh ants, but much smaller. These ants get their name because they like to build nests near other ant colonies and steal food and larvae to feed themselves with. While worker ants can sting if disturbed, they are are not aggressive ants.
The pyramid ant is a predominantly black ant with reddish tint on the head and abdomen. They derive their name from the peak or tooth on the top of their thorax. They build cone shaped nests that are often found near other ant nests. They are an outdoor pest that prefers yards and gardens, but can sometimes forage for food inside homes.
ELIMINATING THESE PESTS
When found in your home, identifying what kind of ant you have can be the first step in coming up with a solution to your pest problem. A good Tulsa pest control company such as TermMax Pest Control can find your problem and solve it quickly. Contact us for a free estimate. We are here to help!