Ants are social insects that form colonies and can be a nuisance when they invade homes and yards.

What are ants?

Ants are common household invaders that are known for living together in large groups. These pests can be problematic for home and business owners in McKinney, TX throughout the entire year. All species of ants have three distinctive body parts including a head, thorax, and abdomen. They also have a pair of bent antennae. Only the reproductive members of an ant colony have wings in order to fly out, find mates, and establish new ant colonies.

Three of the most common ant species found in McKinney, Plano, and Northeastern Texas are carpenter ants, fire ants, and sugar ants.

Carpenter ants
Carpenter ants are most often black, but can also be a combination of black, red, and yellow. They are the largest home-infesting species of ants living in the United States. Adults grow to about 1/2 of an inch length, while the queens can grow larger than 1 inch in length.

Fire ants
Fire ants are dark reddish-brown in color and grow to be between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch in length. They are an extremely aggressive species of ants and swarm in large numbers to bite and sting anything they perceive as a threat.

Sugar ants
Here in Texas, “sugar ants” is a phrase used to describe a variety of small species of ants that commonly invade homes. One of the most common species of ants in Texas that is often referred to as sugar ants is the pharaoh ant. They are are very small, red-colored ants. They carry a variety of bacteria and pathogens on their bodies and are common invaders of homes and hospitals.

Are ants dangerous?

Most species of ants are nuisance pests. These ants are annoying to deal with, will enter into homes in large numbers, and will contaminate food. However, they won’t cause you or your property significant harm. An example of a nuisance ant is the sugar ant. Many species of ants living throughout Texas, however, are considered dangerous. Carpenter ants and fire ants are both dangerous species of ants. Carpenter ants have the potential to cause significant damage to the structure of a home or any other building they have invaded, and fire ants inflict painful bites and stings to people and animals. In fact, fire ant venom is strong enough to cause allergic reactions or even trigger anaphylaxis. Fire ants also have the potential to invade and damage electrical equipment, and they will also cause unsightly damage to young plants and grass. Sugar ants or pharaoh ants commonly invade IV’s and the wounds of hospital patients; they carry dangerous bacteria and human pathogens on their bodies and legs. 

Why do I have an ant problem?

Ants are opportunistic pests and will take advantage of easy access to food, water, and shelter sources. Most properties often have features that are attractive to ants. Gardens, compost areas, outdoor eating areas, open garbage containers, leaky fixtures, pet food, dense vegetation, rock piles, and wood piles are all things that attract ants.

Where will I find ants?

Outside, ants nest in a variety of locations including under fallen trees, inside tree stumps, under mulch, in cracks of pavement or cement, in spaces next to foundations, in areas of open exposed soil, and underneath wood or rock piles. Ants also commonly nest indoors after entering a home or other structure while foraging for food. Common indoor nesting spots include behind wall voids, underneath floors, and in spaces above ceilings. Carpenter ants tunnel through and create nesting galleries inside of structural wood.

  • Carpenter ants use their chewing mouthparts to create nests inside of deadwood such as fallen trees and trees stumps. They may also nest outside behind wooden shingles, in fences, or in woodpiles. Inside, carpenter ants nest in the cracks and crevices between structural beams or inside wood above ceilings, behind walls, or below flooring.

  • Fire ants create their nests outside in open, sunny areas and avoid shady, wooded areas or areas of heavy vegetation. Open fields, golf courses, parks, and residential lawns all make excellent nesting spots for these aggressive ants. Fire ants don’t often invade homes to nest; when they do, they create these nests behind walls or under floors.

  • Sugar ants create outdoor nests in the soil in garden areas, under fallen trees, under mulch, or in woodpiles. Sugar ants enjoy living inside and place their nests in a variety of warm locations near water sources. Behind cabinets and wall voids, in crawlspaces, behind light switches, and inside potted plants are all nesting spots for sugar ants.

When are ants most active?

Carpenter ants in McKinney, TX can be seen in yards and homes throughout most of the year, but their presence is most often noticed by homeowners in the late winter and spring when they are most active, mating and beginning new colonies. The most common time of year for reproductives to emerge from a colony is from May through July; they create large swarms of winged ants in order to find mates and begin new colonies. These swarms are often what alert homeowners to an infestation.

Fire ants are most active when temperatures outside range anywhere between 70 and 95 degrees. Like most species of ants in Texas, however, fire ants remain active throughout the year. Sugar ants prefer to nest indoors as the temperature-controlled environments our properties provide allows these ants to remain active year-round.

Interesting facts about ants

1. There are over 14 species of carpenter ants living throughout Texas. The largest and most common species is the black carpenter ant. They have strong mandibles that can live over seven times their body weight. Carpenter ants keep their tunnels and nesting sites very neat; the walls are smooth and free of debris.

2. Fire ants have a unique survival skill: when their nests are flooded, fire ants join together and surround their queen. They ride to the surface of the water on air bubbles and create a giant, terrifying red ant “float.” They are able to float because of waterproof wax that covers their bodies.

3. Sugar ants are picky eaters and alternate between eating proteins and sweets. These ants can be very difficult to control because of their ability to bud, which is a reaction to the presence of pesticides. "Budding" is when the queen and a few workers leave with some of the broad to set up a colony in a new, safe location.

How do I get rid of ants?

To eliminate and/or prevent ant infestations, partner with Around The Block Pest Control. Our friendly and highly trained professionals deliver modern and effective pest control solutions. We will work closely with you to eliminate ants and stop future ant populations from making themselves at home in your Texas home or business.

Around The Block offers a variety of residential and commercial pest control services: general pest coverage, organic services, bed bugs control, fire ant control, mosquito control, rodent control, and more. To learn more about the ant control services we offer throughout Northeastern Texas, contact Around The Block Pest Control today!

How can I prevent ants in the future?

In addition to our professional services, the following tips can help to prevent problems with ants invading your property in Northeastern Texas:

  • Keep food in the refrigerator or inside air-tight containers, not out on counters or tables.

  • Trim tree branches, shrubs, and bushes away from the exterior of your property.

  • Keep locking lids on all outdoor trash cans and compost piles.

  • Place weather stripping around windows and doors.

  • Pick up uneaten pet food in between feedings.

  • Remove excess piles of debris from your property.

  • Pick up any fallen fruits and vegetables in garden areas.

  • Remove garbage from your home or business, and wash dishes daily.

  • Seal gaps or other openings in the foundation and exterior walls of your structure.

  • Use dehumidifiers and properly ventilate crawlspaces to reduce the moisture level in your structure.