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Guide to NC Pests



The odorous house ant is probably the most common house-infesting ant species in North Carolina. Their name comes from the odor of rotten coconut that is noticeable when you crush the insects. Workers are about 1/8” long and brown to black in color. There is one node on the pedicel that is hidden by the overlapping abdomen (see the picture above). Colonies may contain several hundred to 100,000 workers and contain multiple queens. New colonies are formed primarily by budding; however, occasional mating swarms may occur in late spring. Odorous house ants can nest in many different places. Outdoor they may build their nests in mulch, in piles of logs, firewood, boards, and other debris. They may also nest beneath stones, sidewalks, patio blocks, and concrete slabs. Indoor nest sites may include wall voids, window frames, in insulation in an attic or between bats of insulation and crawlspace subflooring. Indoors, odorous house the ants are typically attracted to sugary food items. Outdoors, they feed on the honeydew secreted by aphids and other insects on shrubs and trees.


Agentine ant workerArgentine ant workers are approximately 1/8” long and light to dark brown in color.  Originally from South America, this ant is believed to have entered the U.S. on coffee ships from Brazil and was first recorded in Louisiana in 1891. Since its introduction, the Argentine ant has become established throughout the southern states and in California. Colonies contain multiple queens and are large and expansive, consisting of many nests. Unlike many ant species, members of different Argentine ant colonies are not aggressive toward one another and mix freely among nests, permitting colonies to grow to enormous sizes. Mulch is a perfect nesting material  for this ant. During the summer, nests located in soil are usually very shallow, only 1-2 inches deep. Nests may be found in all types of piled items, including lumber, rocks, and other debris. Wall voids, insulation, and bath traps may serve as nest sites for this ant. Argentine ants feed on both live and dead insects, as well as honeydew. They may be attracted indoors by many food types, but prefer sweet foods.


little black ant Little black ant workers are very small, about 1/16”, shiny black in color, and slow-moving.  Colonies are moderate to large and contain multiple queens. New colonies are formed by swarmers which are typically seen June to August. This ant may nest in many different places, including in mulch, logs, stumps, and in piled items. Little black ants may invade homes in search of a wide variety of foods including sweets, meats, grease, and bread. Outdoors, this ant feeds on insects, honeydew, pollen, and sweet plant secretions.



pavement ant (Penn State University)Workers are slow-moving, 1/10” to 1/8” long, and dark brown in color. Both the head and thorax have numerous grooves that run lengthwise. In addition, there is a pair of spines on the thorax and a sting at the tip of the abdomen. As their name implies, pavement ants tend to nest beside and under sidewalks, driveways, patios, and foundations. The presence of a nest is often evidenced by a mound of soil around a crack in pavement. Winged reproductive ants undergo mating flights in the spring to form new colonies. Pavement ants feed on dead insects and honeydew. Indoors, they feed on most types of food, including both sweet and greasy items.



acrobat antAcrobat ant workers are 1/16”- 1/8” long and light brown to black in color. There is a pair of spines on the thorax and the abdomen is heart-shaped when viewed from above. This ant gets its name from the fact that it raises its abdomen over its head and thorax when alarmed. Acrobat ants nest indoors where moist, damaged wood is present. Therefore, their presence in structures may mean a moisture
problem or water leak is present. In addition, this ant will nest in abandoned termite, carpenter ant, or other wood-destroying insect nests. Acrobat ants may also nest in Styrofoam insulation panels and wall voids. Often, this indoor nest is associated with a nest outdoors in a tree, stump, or log. Workers feed on live and dead insects, as well as honeydew from aphids and mealybugs. This ant may invade homes in search of household food, showing a preference for sweets. When colonies are disturbed, workers will readily bite and emit a repulsive odor. New colonies are formed by swarmers that take flight from mid-May to September.