Seeing a few ants outside of your home or business isn’t uncommon. However, thousands of them swarming on the pavement, in your garage, or around your lawn is cause for concern. Despite their small size, an ant infestation can be a huge annoyance. Not to mention dangerous.
Ants can damage structures or property, spread food-borne illnesses like salmonella and E. coli, and deliver painful bites that can cause allergic reactions.
There are dozens of species of ants in Illinois, which can make it difficult to know which are invading your property. Here, we’ll list the most common species in Illinois and how to get rid of ants effectively. You’ll also learn about how American Pest Control can not only eradicate ants, but also keep them from returning.
What Kind of Ants Are in Illinois?
Although pests don’t tend to respect state lines, specific environments are more friendly than others to certain creatures, including types of ants. These are some of the most common ants in Illinois.
Most acrobat ants are light brown, yellow, or black in color, with some even being multicolored. Their name comes from the fact that they can hold their heart-shaped abdomen up over the rest of their body. They also release a foul odor when threatened.
Acrobat ants live underneath rocks, wood, firewood piles, fallen tree trunks or tree stumps, or in nests created by other insects. Honeydew from mealybugs, aphids, and other insects (either dead or alive) are their primary source of food. Inside your home, they’ll feed on high-protein foods or sweets.
Shiny dark-brown or black in color, Argentine ants are intelligent ants with an oval-shaped body that live in colonies that can have hundreds of thousands of members. These massive colonies are usually located in moist or damp areas that are near food like sidewalk cracks, beneath logs or rocks, or near buildings. They will move inside if they detect food or are in need of shelter. As omnivores, they will eat anything and are very efficient foragers.
Carpenter ants get their name from their tendency to burrow into tree trunks, logs, or door or window frames to create their nests. They’re much larger than other ants, growing to ⅛ inch or ½ inch in length. Depending on the specific species, these ants will be red, black, or yellow in color.
While they primarily nest outside in wood structures, they can enter your home through cracked foundations, gaps around doors or windows, or through vents. Once inside, they’ll begin to forage for food while creating nests in wooden furniture, walls, or baseboards.
Female ants are a distinct gold color while males are black. They get their name from the strong lemon scent they emit when threatened, which only gets stronger if they’re crushed. Outside, their nests are found underneath rocks, logs, or near building foundations. Inside, they’re attracted to moist areas or to damaged wood. Their primary food source is honeydew so you’ll find them feasting on crumbs or sweets inside your home.
These ants can be a combination of colors but are usually yellow, black, or reddish-brown. Field ants don’t have a stinger, but they do bite and spray a strong-smelling formic acid into wounds which can be very painful.
They rarely nest inside homes but instead in wooded areas, yards, or fields (hence the name). Their primary food source is honeydew. On the rare occasion they enter your home, they’ll feed on sweets, meat products, or liquids.
The easiest way to identify these ants is by their nests. These dark brown ants will push dirt into a cone-shaped mound near driveways, sidewalks, or rocks. Pavement ants will usually search for food close to their nests, looking for seeds, grease, or sweets. While they live outside, they will venture inside to search for food or if they find a better nesting location. These ants don’t cause major damage, but they are very territorial and will bite or sting humans when threatened.
Odorous House Ants
The odorous house ant is very similar in appearance to the pavement ant. Both are small and dark brown in color. However, their most distinguishing feature comes from the smell of rotting coconuts they emit when crushed, which is where they get their name.
These ants usually live outside underneath debris, wood, or rocks and feed on meat or dairy products, sweets, and plant or fruit juices. Similar to the pavement ant, they will venture inside in search of food or shelter. Removing these ants usually requires professional ant pest control as they are very tolerant to both heat and cold, making their removal difficult.
These ants are yellow-brown to pale red in color, with abdomens that are darker and covered in distinct markings. Unlike other species, these ants are usually found indoors and rarely make their nest outside. You’ll find them in warm, humid areas near food sources such as inside wall voids, underneath the flooring, or behind baseboards. They have even been known to live underneath linens or furniture. Cables and electrical wires act as a highway, allowing them to move freely throughout your home.
If you do see pharaoh ants outside, they’ll be underneath debris or in shaded areas. These ants are not picky eaters when it comes to food. They’ll swarm to any food source and devour it quickly. Common food sources include other insects, pet food, sweets, meat, grease, cheese, and oils.
Small Honey Ants
Considered to be more of a nuisance than a threat, these small ants are shiny brown in color with a darker, triangular-shaped abdomen with small hairs covering it. Their nests are usually found in flower beds or underneath stones, logs, or debris.
Honey ants are usually more active during the winter months and will venture inside in search of food. Should they decide to make their nest indoors, it’s usually in potted plants. These ants are particularly fond of sugary food, eating mostly honeydew, over-ripe fruit juice, or sap.
These are some of the smallest ants in Illinois, growing to be about 1/16 inch in length. Their bodies are smooth and shiny in appearance and are usually dark or light brown or pale yellow in color. Their name comes from the fact that they make their nests near other insects’ nests so they can steal food.
While they live primarily outdoors, thief ants will enter your home during the hot summer months to escape the heat and to look for food. They’ll nest behind baseboards, underneath flooring, or in small crevices. Foods that are high in protein or greasy are some of their favorite food sources.
Are There Fire Ants in Illinois?
Fire ants are not typically found in Illinois. They’re more common in southern states such as Alabama, Georgia, Florida, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. These ants typically don’t live in areas that are especially cold or where there’s a lack of water and prefer the humid, Southwestern weather to other climates.
How to Get Rid of Ants
Ants are constantly searching for food and shelter and your home or business offers the perfect place for both. While outside of your home these small pests can be unsightly, inside they can cause all sorts of damage to your property. For example, carpenter ants can quickly chew through wood inside your walls and cause structural damage and pharaoh ants may chew on electrical wires inside your walls which is a fire hazard.
While DIY ant removal methods may provide some temporary relief from ants, nothing is as effective at eliminating these creatures as professional ant pest control.
Get Rid of Your Illinois Ants with American Pest Control
For the best ant removal in Illinois, contact American Pest Control. Using products that are powerful on bugs but soft on the environment, we’ll remove common ants in Illinois from both commercial and residential properties and keep them from coming back.
To learn more about our affordable services, contact one of our team members or get a free quote. Don’t wait for a small ant problem to get worse—contact us today so you can enjoy an ant-free home or business.