ants foraging in ellensburg wa

Common types of ants in Washington

Washington state is home to many types of ants. While all are social insects that live and work together in large colonies, they vary in size and the majority of them typically fall into the category of nuisance ants. There are a few ant species that are considered destructive to property or a risk to health.  To learn more about the more common types of ants in Washington, please keep reading.  

Odorous House Ants

sugar ant in kittitas county wa

Aptly named, odorous house ants are small dark-colored ants that may produce an unpleasant rotten, coconut-like smell when crushed. More commonly referred to as sugar ants, these pests are frequently found in kitchens and bathrooms.   

Carpenter Ants

a carpenter ant in terrace heights washington

In the Pacific Northwest, carpenter ants are black, red, or a combination of the two colors.  They are large ants that nest in live or dead trees including stumps and logs.  They also have a tendency to establish satellite colonies in structures. These large ants are often mistakenly identified as termites and while both are wood-destroying pests in Washington, they are two completely different species. 

Pavement Ants

foraging pavement ants in outlook wa

Brown to black in color, pavement ants are commonly found nesting in exposed soil along driveways and sidewalks and can also be found in cracks in pavement and cement.  Considered nuisance ants they will enter homes and structures in search of food. 

Velvety Tree Ants

velvety tree ant in tieton wa

Velvety tree ants have brownish black heads, yellowish red thoraxes, and black abdomens that are covered in dense fine hairs.  Those hairs are why they are described as “velvety”.  As their name suggests, velvety tree ants make nests in tree crooks as well as stumps and logs. When they infest homes and buildings, they often make temporary nests close to food sources.  They are sometimes confused with carpenter ants because of their nesting habits and the damage that results from them. 

Velvety tree ants emit a very potent, distinct, and unpleasant odor when they are crushed. In addition, these ants are aggressive, inflicting painful bites and spraying secretions onto any person or animal that they view as a threat.

Pharaoh Ants

pharaoh ants in easton wa

Pharaoh ants are yellow or light brown ants that were originally from Africa. They are omnivorous ants that will infest homes and businesses in an effort to find food and are considered obnoxious ants because they get into everything. In hospitals and clinics, they have been found in patient wounds and IVs.  These ants, along with Argentine ants are not a major ant pest for our region but are occasionally seen.

Why am I seeing winged ants flying around?

Like many social insect colonies, carpenter ants typically swarm late spring or early summer. The reproductive members swarm in order to find mates and establish new colonies.

If you’re seeing a lot of giant winged ants inside your structure then you likely have an active carpenter ant problem.  If winged ants are flying around your property, you have a colony somewhere nearby. 

Why do I have a problem with ants?

Easy access to food and water sources are typically why residents in Washington find ants in or near their structures.  Clogged gutters, leaking outdoor fixtures, unsecured garbage cans, and gardens may attract ants and once they discover access to the inside, they’ll take advantage of your hospitality.  They may even establish satellite colonies in your structure. 

Another reason why ants infest homes and businesses is weather-related.  If it becomes too hot or too cold, too dry or too wet, they’ll move indoors for more comfortable conditions. 

Where do ants nest?

Nesting spots vary by ant species but in general ants can be found nesting in places such as:

  • In soil
  • Among piles of wood
  • In cracks of pavement
  • Under fallen trees or landscaping ties, or inside of tree stumps

Inside, it’s common to find ants under flooring, behind walls, in crawlspaces, near heating systems, and behind large appliances.

Are ants dangerous?

While the majority of ants in our region are considered nuisance and pose no threat to human health, Pharaoh ants may be the exception.  They have the ability to carry and transmit salmonella and streptococcus.  Couple that with their habit of invading IVs and wounds, and you could have a dangerous situation. 

Carpenter ants are not dangerous to people but they are wood-destroying ants that, if left unchecked, inflict significant damage to structures. 

How do I get rid of ants?

Accurate identification of the ant and location of the nest(s) is essential if you want to get rid of the ant colony for good.  Treating carpenter ants requires a different method then say pavement ants and if you treat the foraging members of the colony but not the queen, the problem will continue. 

At Prosite, we offer comprehensive pest control services that include a free inspection.  When you contact us, we’ll conduct a thorough inspection of the property to identify the type of ant and how bad an infestation you have.  We’ll also locate entry points and determine what conditions in or around your structure are attracting them.  Upon completion of our inspections, we’ll discuss our findings and recommend a treatment plan to get rid of ants.

For carpenter ant control, Prosite provides regularly scheduled treatment every year to protect against structure damage.

If you’re interested in learn more about our ant control services, please contact Prosite today.

How do I prevent problems with ants?

At Prosite, we cannot emphasize the importance of sanitation and highly encourage property owners to clean often and thoroughly in order to keep ants out! We also recommend implementing the following ant prevention tips:

  • Seal cracks and crevices found in your home’s foundation, exterior walls, and spaces found around utilities (pipes, wire, and ducts)
  • Reduce moisture levels by installing or running de-humidifiers
  • Fix leaking pipes and appliances
  • Unclog gutters and trim trees and bushes away from the exterior
  • Replace water damaged wood
  • Install de-humidifiers in areas to reduce moisture levels in your home; remove any wood from your home that has been damaged by water
  • Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight or for any length of time
  • Store food in the refrigerator or in air-tight containers
  • Empty trash cans often
 

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