How to Identify Ant Types

Updated November 21, 2016

Ants are one of the most common house pests, consisting of Carpenter, Fire, Thief, and Pavement ants, as well as many other types. When treating your house for ant infestation, determining what ant type is present saves guesswork, as different ants require different treatments, since ant species have unique food preferences and habits. Identifying ant species requires a close look, so grabbing one with a pair of tweezers and examining it under a magnifying glass will make the identification easier. Knowing what to look for is the key to ant identification.

Magnify the ant. Determine if the ant is a one, or two-node ant. At the petiole of the abdomen, which is forward of the abdomen or end portion of the ant's body, are the nodes. The ant's nodes look like small bumps at the skinny end of the abdomen, and are clearly visible under a magnifying glass.

Note the colour of the ant; many ants have different colour patterns and characteristics. Although many ants may seem to be the same colour, viewing them under a magnifying glass proves otherwise. Also note the approximate length of the ant.

Consult an ant identification chart, similar to the ones found on the University of Nebraska - Lincoln and University of California pages. The Nebraska charts are in full colour, divided into one- and two-node ant types and identify the body specifics of the ant. The chart found on the University of California page identifies the ant's length, colour and food preferences.

Things You'll Need

  • Tweezers
  • Magnifying glass
  • Ant identification guide
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About the Author

A native of New Haven, Conn., Floyd Drake III began writing in 1984. His work has appeared in the "New Haven Register," Medford's "Mail-Tribune" and the "Ashland Daily Tidings." Drake studied journalism at Southern Connecticut State University. After working as a reporter in Oregon, he is now based back home in New Haven.