Many homeowners know the frustration of trying to control ants in their lawns and gardens, but few are familiar with the fascinating story of how these little creatures came to inhabit different parts of the country.
In Florida alone, there are at least nine distinct species of ants to contend with, such as carpenter, fire, argentine, red harvester, red imported fire, pharaoh, yellow crazy, branded sugar ants, and crematogaster.
Why Are There Different Ant Species Found in Different States?
To understand how certain ant species arrived in Florida, we have to first look at their origins. Most ant species originated in tropical climates like South America or Africa, where they adapted over time to survive in a wide range of environments.
As human migration began across North America, so too did the spread of various ant species as people unknowingly transported them through areas like Florida and beyond.
But why does Florida contain more ant species than other states? The answer can be attributed mainly to its warm weather and humid climate that offers an ideal habitat for many types of ants from around the world.
This agreeable climate allows for various conditions that encourage different kinds of ants—like Fire Ants and Red Harvester Ants—to thrive.
Speaking specifically about Florida, its many diverse habitats give rise to even more varied types of ants, such as Argentine Ants and Yellow Crazy Ants.
Additionally, its deep coastal waterways provide access for some imported species like Crematogaster or Pharaoh Ants which may have been accidentally transported by boat or plane from elsewhere around the globe.
Different Ant Species Found in Florida
Now that we have a good understanding of why there are so many different ant species in Florida let’s look at each of them more closely.
The carpenter ants, or Camponotus spp., are considered a pest species due to their tendency to nest in wooden structures.
They have well-defined heads, black bodies, and red legs. Carpenter ants can be found throughout Florida, making them one of the most common ant species in the state.
Their colonies can grow very large, and they’re particularly active in the late spring and summer months.
The red imported fire ant is a highly aggressive species of ant found in many states throughout the US. These ants have reddish-brown bodies and black heads and can be identified by their distinctive mounds, which they form around their colonies.
Never underestimate these ants, as they’re able to inflict powerful stings that can cause serious irritation and discomfort. Fire ants are so prevalent in Florida that many homes and businesses keep ant traps and bait on hand to ward them off.
Another small yet surprisingly strong species is the Argentine ant. This species of ant can be identified by their light brown bodies and darker heads.
They often invade homes in search of food and are known for their ability to form large colonies, which can sometimes take up entire yards or lawns if left unchecked.
It’s disturbingly invasive, and its colonies can be difficult to eradicate if left untreated for long periods of time.
Red Harvester Ant
The red harvester ant is a species of ant found in Florida and other southern states. It can be identified by its reddish-orange body and black head. This ant species feeds on seeds and grains, making them a major agricultural pest if left unchecked.
They’re also known for their powerful sting, which can cause extreme pain and irritation to humans if they’re disturbed.
Known for their heart-shaped bodies and dark brown coloring, Crematogaster ants are one of the most common ant species found in Florida. This species tends to nest indoors—often in walls or cabinets—and typically feeds on sweet nectar or small insects.
When alarmed, their bodies swell up and release a pungent odor.
Red Imported Fire Ant
Although a bit similar and a sub-specie to the fire ant, the red fire ant, or RIFA, is a more aggressive species of ant found in Florida.
Their colonies are usually large and well organized, often containing thousands or even millions of worker ants. Red fire ants can be particularly dangerous if disturbed, as they’re known for their powerful stings that can cause intense pain and discomfort.
Most known for their yellowish to transparent coloration, Pharaoh ants are one of the most prevalent imported species in Florida. This species is known for its ability to colonize indoors and is often found in hospitals.
These ants can be difficult to eradicate since their colonies can contain multiple reproductive queens.
Yellow Crazy Ant
The yellow crazy ant, distinctly known and named for the erratic movements of their workers, is a species of ant found in Florida. This ant is known to have long legs and yellowish-brown coloration.
Branded Sugar Ant
Commonly known as the sugar ant, it is an ant species that are native to Australia. However, due to the increasing popularity of imported fruits and vegetables, this species has become a common household pest in Florida.
These ants have yellow-brown bodies and can be identified by their sweet tooth—they’re particularly fond of sugar and syrups.
Florida Ant Control Solutions
Florida’s diverse climate and terrain provide an ideal environment for a wide range of ant species. If you’re dealing with an ant infestation in your home or business, it’s important to act quickly and take appropriate measures to ensure the problem doesn’t get out of hand.
There are many effective methods for controlling ants, such as baiting systems, traps, desiccants, and insecticides.
Although most of these methods would work with all types of ants, consulting with a local pest control expert can help you determine which type of ant is causing the problem and which method would be most effective and bring faster results.
Prevention is also a key step in ant control. Start by making sure that all food is stored properly and away from areas where ants can access it, and check for any entry points around your home or business and seal them off.