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3 Destructive Ants of Michigan

Carpenter Ants
Michigan is home to 113 species of ants, so it's not always easy to identify which species recently invaded your home or landscaping. Some ants keep to the woods or the roadsides, but other ants colonize on your property and become destructive. The following are three such ants you may discover in and around your home.

1. Allegheny Mound Ants

You may see an emerging colony of Allegheny mound ants (Formica exsectoides) and dismiss the nest as simply a dead patch in the lawn. By the time you notice the mound rising up from the grass, it's been growing for a few years underground.

If left undisturbed, the ant mounds can extend up to four feet above ground and up to three feet under the mound. Inside the solar-heated mound are many queens and up to 250,000 ants. Fortunately, mound ants rarely enter homes. They eat scales, aphids, needle-feeding insects, and other bugs.

Allegheny mound ants can be brick-red, black, or a mixture of the two colors. They don't sting but can deliver a painful bite with their powerful mandibles.

The destructive nature of mound ants is evident around their colonies. Mound ants bite into trees and plants within a 40- to 50-foot circle around their nests, depositing deadly formic acid into the wounded places. Herbaceous plants and grasses die quickly, while trees often take many deposits of formic acid to die.

2. Odorous House Ant

The odorous house ant (Tapinoma sessile) is one of the most common ants found in Michigan and all of North America. You may first notice this ant when it invades your pantry and starts crawling around in your sugar and cereals.

While odorous house ants are capable of building massive colonies, their nests are usually occupied by a few thousand workers. You may discover their nests outdoors under rocks and wood planks. Odorous house ants also form colonies inside your home using termite-ravaged wood, moist flooring, and hollow walls as strategic hiding places.

Odorous house ants are tiny; worker ants are only 1/16 to 1/8 inch long and brown-black in color. The ant gets its name from the rotten smell emitted when the ants are crushed. Some people liken the smell to sniffing rotten coconuts or blue cheese dressing.

Odorous house ants destroy valuable staples, pet food, garden plants, and other foods in your kitchen. Look for the ants' indoor appearance after heavy rains. They're attracted to sweet, sugary foods on countertops and tables.

3. Carpenter Ant

Carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.) are giants of the Michigan ant population and one of the state's most common ants. You may notice carpenter ants outside nesting in stumps and hollow tree trunks. You may also notice them indoors.

Carpenter ant colonies can be parent colonies with nurseries or satellite colonies full of only workers, They are found indoors where there is an abundance of moisture and rotting wood. In summer, a lone carpenter ant may wander inside your home by accident. If you see one in wintertime, suspect a colony in your structure.

Carpenter ants are brownish-red, black, or a combination of the two colors. They measure 3/8 to 1/2 inch long. They're distinguished from other, non-destructive large ants by their rounded thoraxes.

The damage that carpenter ants do is extensive once they establish their colonies. Although the carpenter ants don't eat wood as termites do, they excavate wood to create tunnels and nesting galleries. Over time, your foundation or other structural wood can be weakened significantly by the carpenter ants.

Spring is a prime time for winged reproductive ants of all types to swarm and locate new colony spots. Look for winged ants inside your home, as they may be an indication of a colony somewhere in the structure.

Contact Maple Lane Pest Control to schedule your inspection and treatment for ants. Our technicians are ant-control specialists, and they treat homes throughout Oakland County, Michigan, and the surrounding areas.

Maple Lane Pest Control


6020 Chicago Road
Warren, MI 48092

Phone: 800-870-7096
East: 586-939-6810
West: 248-642-7378
North: 586-781-7010

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