How to Identify Tiny Red Ants in Fort Lauderdale

Tiny red ants in Fort Lauderdale

The last time you saw tiny red ants, did you immediately think they were fire ants? Maybe they were, especially if you stepped into an ant mound covered in them and left the scene with painful red bites.

There's a chance, however, that they weren't fire ants, and instead, they were carpenter ants, big-headed ants, or pharaoh ants. It can be tricky to tell the difference between any small insects, especially if you don't have a magnifying glass or a microscope!

So, we've created this blog so you can become an expert in identifying any tiny red ant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are reddish-brown ants that can reach 1/2 an inch long and are common in Florida homes.

Carpenter ants are some of the largest and most common ants you'll find in Florida, which makes them pretty easy to identify. The biggest difference between carpenter ants and other red ants is their habitat. Carpenter ants nest in wood by tunneling "galleries."

The ideal wood for carpenter ants is moist and decaying, so any old, damaged wood in your home could be fair game. They often live indoors in furniture, walls, floors, and doors, or outside in old trees or firewood.

During mating season, carpenter ants will become swarmers. While carpenter ant swarmers have larger bodies than termite swarmers, they have shorter wings, and a pinched waist compared to a broad waist.

If you're unsure whether the insects in your home are carpenter ants or termites, look for the habitat. Carpenter ant galleries are smooth tunnels, while termite galleries are rough and often covered in mud. We also recommend that you contact Native Pest Management for a free termite inspection, so you can be 100% certain of the pest infesting your home.

If we find carpenter ants, we'll eliminate the ant nest by using granular, non-repellent baits. These slow-acting baits will kill the queen first, and then the rest of the colony.

Since carpenter ants are attracted to moist wood, make sure you check to make sure you don't have any moisture or plumbing issues in your home. By decreasing humidity and making sure you don't have any leaks, you can help prevent carpenter ant infestations from happening again in the future.

Big Headed Ants

Big headed ants are reddish brown ants with large heads that are disproportionate to their bodies. They're dimorphic, divided into major workers or minor workers, meaning they're two different sizes. Minor workers are about 2mm long, while major workers can be 3-4mm long. 99% of big headed ants are minor workers.

Big headed ant colonies can grow up to over one million ants. These large colonies can make them especially difficult to get under control, as one colony can spread across multiple homes.

It's possible to confuse big headed ants with subterranean termites because they tunnel through debris-covered tubes similar to mud tubes, but much more fragile. Instead of frass, the evidence they leave is often loose sandy soil.

It's also easy to confuse big headed ants with red imported fire ants, but big headed ants are dimorphic while red imported fire ants are polymorphic (many sizes).

Big headed ants are known invasive pests. In fact, they're in the top 100 most threatening invaders. While they're not a threat to us directly, they're a threat to our planet. Big headed ants disrupt the natural population dynamics of the ecosystem. What's really unique about them is how aggressive they are - they will do anything to take over other native ant species and to defend their own colonies.

They also disrupt our power lines and irrigation systems so, in short, they are a nuisance and they have big heads.

Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh ants are small ants that range from 1.5-2mm long and can be yellow, light brown, and red.

They are a difficult ant species to control because their nests are located in places difficult to reach or identify. These ants have many queens, so infestations can quickly grow.

Pharaoh ants are resilient to most ant control treatments, so if you're seeing them in your home, we recommend that you contact a professional.

Typical nesting areas for pharaoh ants:

  • In wall voids
  • Behind molding
  • In insulation in refrigerators
  • In cardboard
  • Between sheets of paper
  • In the soil of potted plants.
  • Electrical outlets
  • Switch plates

Pharaoh ants are attracted to sweet, fatty foods, so your kitchen may be the best place to start to prevent and get rid of pharaoh ants. Make sure you're storing food properly and cleaning the kitchen regularly.

Because of their sugary diet, it's easy to confuse lighter-colored pharaoh ants and ghost ants. However, ghost ants are smaller, 1.3-1.5mm long, making them the smallest ant you'll find in Fort Lauderdale.

Fire Ants

If you find an ant mound in dry, sunny areas, it likely belongs to a colony of fire ants, specifically, a colony of red imported fire ants. Like all "red" ants, they aren't necessarily always red- the color of these ants ranges from red to brown, with a black gaster.

These pesky ants bite and sting, and produce alkaloid venom which causes discomfort that can last for a few days.

If you see bright red ants outside your home, they definitely might be fire ants, but take note. Don't test your theory by approaching them to see if they're aggressive---any fire ant bites can cause a lot of discomfort.

If you believe you might have a fire ant issue, we recommend that you get in touch with Native Pest Management and our team will properly identify the ant. Our fire ant treatments include broadcast bait systems that can eliminate entire colonies.

Other ways to get rid of fire ants include pouring boiling water over the nest or using insecticides, but this may cause damage to your lawn.

Ant Control For Tiny Red Ants in Fort Lauderdale

Professional ant control is the best way to get rid of tiny red ants in Fort Lauderdale, and Native Pest Management is equipped for the task.

If the red ants in your home turn out to be carpenter ants, we'll locate the nest and remove it before removing the entire colony.

If the red ants you're seeing end up being big-headed ants, we'll use granular, non-repellent baits to get rid of as many ants as possible. We'll also help get rid of the honeydew-producing insects that are attracting big-headed ants to your home in the first place.

If you're dealing with pharaoh ants, we'll use special ant control products specifically designed for their resilience. Although most ant products don't work for pharaoh ants, we're confident that we'll knock out each and every one.

For fire ants, we use broadcast bait treatments designed to target multiple fire ant mounds at once. Rather than just dumping insecticides, our treatments will go after the colony in a pet friendly and eco-friendly way.

At the end of the day, no one wants tiny red ants in their home or in their yard, especially ones that damage belongings or bite. To learn more about our ant control services in Fort Lauderdale, FL for carpenter ants, bigheaded ants, pharaoh ants and fire ants, reach out to our office today and you'll receive a free quote! 

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