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How to Identify the Most Common Ants and Their Mounds in Columbia, MD

Jul 27, 2022

Ants are one of the most common house pests. Their population is estimated at between 10 and 100 quadrillion, with more than 1,000 species living right here in North America. There are many species of ant, and each has different behaviors, feeding habits, and nesting practices.  To properly identify the ants infesting your property, you’ll need to be familiar with the common types of ants and what their mounds look like. To identify ant species, here are a few things to look for: 

  • Body
  • Nest
  • Behavior
  • Size of the worker ants


Ants can range from black or brown in color to yellow or even white. Some ant species are the same color all over, while others have different colors on their thorax and abdomen.


Ant species have different nesting behaviors. For example, carpenter ants typically nest in wood, but most other ant species nest in soil.


Some ants are more aggressive than others. Fire ants are a more aggressive species that will attack if you get too close to their colony. You can also narrow down possibilities by observing what food the ants eat. Some ants are more prone to sweet tastes than others.

Worker Ant Size

Worker ant sizes vary across species and can help to identify what type of ant you have. If you are unable to confidently identify the ants, collect several specimens in a watertight vial, add isopropyl or 70 percent alcohol, and mail them to an ant specialist.

Common Ant Types in Columbia, MD

Now that you know what to look for, here are some common ant species, what they look like, and where their mounds usually are.

Acrobat Ants

  • 1/8 inch long
  • Black and red
  • Has a stinger
  • Eats sweets and proteins
  • Nests under rocks or logs

Red Imported Fire Ant

  • 1/16-1/4 inch long
  • Red and dark brown
  • Has a stinger and gives painful stings
  • Eats proteins
  • Nest in soil

Carpenter Ants

  • 1/4-1/2 inch long
  • Red, brown, or black
  • No stinger
  • Eats sweets
  • Nest in moist or moldy wood

Odorous House Ants

  • 1/8 inch long
  • Brown or black
  • No stinger
  • Eats sweets and proteins
  • Emits an odor when crushed
  • Nest indoors beneath floors or in wall crevices

Thief Ants

  • 1/16 inch long
  • Yellow to light brown
  • Has a stinger
  • Eats proteins
  • Nest in rotting wood and soil

Pavement Ant

  • 1/8 inch long
  • Light brown or black
  • Legs and antennae paler than body
  • Has a stinger
  • Eats anything
  • Nest in the pavement with dirt mounds on top

Argentine Ant

  • 1/8 inch long
  • Light brown
  • No stinger
  • Eats sweets and proteins
  • Nest in moist soil near buildings

Effective Tips to Prevent Ants in Columbia

There are several ways to prevent ants. A good start is to get rid of the things that attract ants. Open food sources are an easy meal that welcomes ants into your home. Also, repair leaky faucets. These act as water sources for ants. You should also eliminate any access points for ants. Check your foundation, doors, windows, and siding for gaps and cracks and seal them with caulk. Also, inspect anywhere that utilities enter your home. Make your yard as uninviting as possible. Put rock barriers between mulch or grass and your home’s foundation. Trim any landscaping like trees and bushes away from your house. If you have outdoor trash cans, get ones with locking or tight-fitting lids. If you need a quick fix to rid your area of ants, pouring 3 gallons of boiling water onto ant hills will eliminate the colony about 60% of the time. 

The Bottom line

Once you have identified your ant species, we can work to exterminate them. Knowing the species allows us to determine the best way to attack, whether we use pesticides or baits. A pest control professional can check ant mounds and identify what type of ant you have. With extensive knowledge and dependable skills, your local Columbia, MD pest exterminators can help you deal with your pest problem. Contact Phenom Pest Control and wave goodbye to any pesky pests today!


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