Wherever your home is located, odds are very good that ants live there, too. Unless you reside near the North or South poles, colonies of ants are feeding, fighting, and breeding under, around, or in your home.
Ants are social insects and they live in nested communities that are underground, in ground-level mounds, or in trees. Carpenter ants, which are some of the most destructive insects, live in dead wood. These ants consider the dead wood, or lumber, in your home to be a perfect habitat, especially if it is damp. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat and digest wood. Ants tunnel through and live in wood. While pressure treated wood can kill termites, it will not kill ants.
Homeowners often confuse carpenter ants with termites because they have a similar appearance. However, ants have a narrow “waist” between the abdomen and thorax, while termites do not. Ants also have large heads, bending “elbow” antennae and powerful mandibles, or jaws. If carpenter ants or termites make your home their habitat, they need to be removed as quickly as possible.
Fire ants, another destructive species, colonize grasslands. They prefer open, sunny areas such as meadows pastures, parks, playgrounds, golf courses—and your lawn. Fire ants prefer to build mounds around rotting logs and near stumps and trees. They can also colonize buildings. However, the red-hot stinging ants, surprisingly, do not like hot, dry weather. If it is above 96°, fire ants will burrow deep underground during the day, coming out at night to hunt.
Some of the most amazing ants habitat are also the tiniest. The Carebara atoma are just over one millimeter long. Scientists say its colonies are so small that dozens of them could fit into the brain case of the world’s largest ant, the Camponotus gigas, whose head is about a quarter inch wide. While humans don’t have to worry about ants living in their skulls, if you see carpenter, fire, or other household ants, you are likely looking at less than 5 percent of those that live in the immediate area. For every human there are about one million ants and chances are good that a super abundant number of ants are habituating your habitat at any given time.