Ants and Their Control

Ants are members of the order hymenoptera, the same order that bees and wasps belong to. Ants are among the more common crawling insects, and ant control is one of the most common pest control needs faced by homeowners and businesses.

There are many species of ants, but only a few are common pests in Virginia, such as:

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ant crawling on the ground.Carpenter ants are rather large ants that range in color from jet black to reddish brown. They are important structural pests because they destroy wood. They don't actually eat the wood like termites do. Carpenter ants excavate galleries into wood to lay eggs and raise their young. Carpenter ant control usually involves correcting moisture problems and treating with baits, liquid insecticides, injection of dusts into voids and galleries, or some combination of those methods, depending on the situation.

Odorous House Ants

Odorous house ant.Odorous house ants are tiny and range in color from black to dark brown. They often forage for food in large numbers along chemical trails that they lay down between their nests and the food source. They're commonly seen on kitchen counters and other food prep surfaces, and can contaminate food. They have a peculiar habit of running around aimlessly with their rear-ends up in the air when they are startled. Their name comes from their distinct coconut-like odor when crushed. Odorous house ant control usually involved the use of baits or liquid insecticides.

Pavement Ants

Pavement ant.Pavement ants are small, black to brown ants who are commonly seen on pavements, but whose name also reflects the pavement-like markings on their head and thorax that can seen when viewed under magnification. Pavement ants are commonly encountered in very large numbers as they forage for food, but their nests tend to be well-hidden under paved surfaces, rocks, and in other protected areas. Pavement ant control usually is accomplished with baits or non-repellent liquid insecticides.

Allegheny Mound Ants

Allegheny mound ants on an anthill.Allegheny mound ants resemble carpenter ants at first glance, but are not the same specie. Also called "field ants" or "formican ants," Allegheny mound ant colonies can grow quite large and spread over multiple large mounds built in the soil. They are predaceous insects who consume huge quantities of other, often more harmful insects, and so should be left alone if they're located in isolated areas. But because they can and do readily sting anything that trespasses on their nests, control is necessary when they build nests in areas occupied by humans or domestic animals.

Thief Ants

A handful of thief ants on a canvas background.Thief ants are small ants (1/32" to 1/8" in length) whose color ranges from yellow to dark brown. They live in colonies that usually contain several hundred workers and multiple queens. The nests may be built indoors or outdoors.

Thief ants get their name from their habit of building their nests close to other ant colonies and stealing their food. But they also forage for food, and often infest stored food items in residential and commercial kitchens. They prefer foods with high fat and protein content.

Pharaoh Ants

Pharoah AntPharaoh ants are tiny ants whose color ranges from yellow to light brown, and whose bodies often appear translucent. They live in colonies that usually contain between a thousand and three thousand workers, and multiple queens. They feed on almost anything and will forage long distances through wall voids, electrical conduit, and other protected areas to find food. Control is difficult because repellent treatments of any kind often cause the colonies to "fracture" into multiple colonies, making the problem even worse than it was.


For help with control of these or any other ants, please contact us for prompt, professional service.