Did you know there are more than 1,300 individual ant species in Australia alone? Whilst most of them are completely harmless and leave nothing more than a little sting, some pose a serious health risk.
However, ants are possibly one of the most annoying insects to find in your home. Take a look below at ten common ant species found in Australian homes and what to do about them.
Photo by MD_JERRY on Unsplash
10 Most Common Ant Species in Australian Homes
1. The common house ant.
The ant most Australians will be quite familiar with is the common house ant. It is scientifically known as Ochetllus and loves to visit at the most annoying times.
There are two subspecies of the common house ant; The Black House Ant, normally attracted to sweets and baked goods and the Coastal Brown Ant, which prefer to feed on meats and grease.
While these ants aren’t classified as dangerous, they can leave a nasty sting if you’re nipped. They have been known to spread diseases such as salmonella, so ensure you clean the area they’ve been on after you’ve gotten rid of them — especially if it’s a food prep area.
How to get rid of common house ants:
The best way to get rid of house ants is to find their colony and poison it using a store purchased agent or an organic remedy such as white vinegar.
2. The Argentine ant.
The Argentine Ant is a lesser known ant species in Australia. Scientifically known as Linepithema Humile, this type of ant will often only grow to 2.6mm long. They’re light to dark brown in colour and do not swim.
Argentine Ants are known to travel long distances to their food source in an attempt to make their colonies harder to find. Mostly attracted to sweeter foods, they are often the ones pestering you at picnics. They may give you a slight nip, but other than that, these ants are basically harmless.
Although they can normally be found travelling in long single formation lines, these ants are not social outside their species and are known for driving other species away.
How to get rid of Argentine ants:
These ants are often hard to get rid of, requiring multiple treatments of your store purchased insecticide.
3. The Bulldog ant.
Bulldog or Bull Ants are one of the larger ant species in Australia, often growing to 2cm long. Scientifically known as Mymecia, they are one of the most aggressive species of ant in Australia. In fact, they hold the record for the most dangerous ants in the world, responsible for six fatalities in Australia alone. If their nest is disturbed, they will attack in the masses, so stay clear.
How to get rid of bull ants:
Like common house ants, the best way to eradicate Bull Ants from your home is to find the colony and destroy it. This ant species, in particular, likes to nest outdoors in soil, under rocks or logs and are more common in areas with high bush density.
However, bull ants are rarely found in homes as they like to feed on other insects and honeydew. If you are struggling to get on top of a large infestation of Bull Ants in your garden, request a quote from your local pest control specialist
4. Flying ants.
Flying ants, as the name suggests, are the only ant species in Australia with the ability to fly. They only grow to a few millimeters in length, making them one of the smallest species of ants in the country. While these ants may seem harmless, it’s possible if an infestation goes untreated, it may cause problems in your home such as paint damage.
How to get rid of flying ants:
Like most ant species, the best way to attend to an infestation is to find the colony and begin from there. An effective home remedy is to mix dish soap with water in a spray bottle and spray ants when they appear. The ant will then transport the poison to the colony.
5. Fire ants.
If you grew up in Australia during the early 2000s, you’ll likely remember growing up with fire ant awareness television ads. These TV ads were put together for a good reason. Fire ants are considered an agricultural pest with the capability to destroy crops and invade residences.
How to get rid of fire ants:
Fire ants can be identified by their copper-coloured head and dark-brown abdomen. They are likely to build colonies next to objects on the ground, rather than in the middle of nowhere. It’s very important if you do find fire ants on your property, you contact your local pest control company. If a fire ant colony is disturbed it is very likely to attack, their bites will often result in a painful, pus-filled blister.
6. Ghost ants.
Ghost ants are a far less common ant species in Australia. However, this does not mean they’re not worth worrying about. These ants are more commonly found in humid climates, such as Queensland.
Scientifically known as Tapinoma melanocephalum, ghost ants are often found in high-moisture areas of the home, such as bathrooms, and feed on mostly sweets and greases.
How to get rid of ghost ants:
They tend to nest in small colonies and are often well hidden under objects or in door jams. Ghost ants will likely have multiple smaller colonies, so if you find one, you’ll likely find several more.
7. Green ants.
Hearing the words “green ants” can make most of us run a mile. Known for their extremely painful sting, this type of ant is commonly found in Australian backyards.
Growing to around 6mm, green ants can be easily identified by their metallic green head. They typically will live in small colonies around yards, feeding on garden plants and vegetables. In fact you’ll rarely find these ants inside your home.
How to get rid of green ants:
One way to get rid of green ants is to destroy their nest. Green ants often disperse and move locations once a nest has been destroyed. Common house-hold ant bait is also an effective way to remove green ants from your home.
8. White ants.
White ants, also commonly known as termites in Australia, are a homeowner’s worst nightmare. They have the ability to structurally ruin a home in only a few months. Termites feast on wooden structures and are often attracted to internal power lines for their warmth.
White ants can be identified by their white bodies and brownish heads. They commonly travel in groups and can be traced through muddy cave-like paths found on objects they’ve travelled through.
How to get rid of white ants:
If you find signs of termites in your home it is important to get into contact with your local pest control company.
9. Sugar Ant
Sugar ants are one of the most common species of ants on the planet, most likely to be found at night, due to being a nocturnal insect. As one of the larger species of ants, normally between 5 and 15 mm in size, you would assume they would be a danger to humans, but it’s quite the opposite. These ants are extremely docile and considered nothing more than a nuisance pest.
Their colour depends on their environment, but generally they are identified by the orange-brown band on their abdomen. The worker ants will normally be smaller and slimmer than their female counterparts who can be identified by their black heads.
How to get rid of sugar ants:
Sugar ants reproduce fast! Which means if you find a colony do not wait to act. Like most ant species, common ant bait will do the trick.
10. Pharaoh Ant
The Pharaoh ant is arguably the most common species of ant in the world. These ants are tiny, measuring a small 2mm on average. They are easily identifiable as they are reddish-brown in colour, with a darker abdomen.
Unlike most other ant species, pharaoh ants use pheromones to communicate between the colony. Their colonies can normally be found in small spaces, such as in between things and in cupboards. They are not generally harmful to humans, but they do like to consume unsanitary items. In fact, one of the most common places they are found is hospital surgical wards.
How to get rid of Pharaoh ants:
Ant bait is the preferred method to get rid of Pharaoh ants.
Frequently Asked Questions: Australian Ants
1. What do Australian bull ants eat?
Australian bull ants live mostly in bushland, therefore they are rarely exposed to the foods humans consume. Due to this, their diet consists of mostly insects, fruits and fungi.
2. What is the most poisonous ant in Australia?
While most ants are relatively harmless, leaving you only with a painful sting for a few hours, there is one Australian species of ant to be wary of. The bulldog ant, otherwise known as Myramecia Pyriformis, is the most dangerous ant in the world.
Native to the Australian coastlines, the bulldog ant has been responsible for six known human deaths in Australia since 1936. Their venom, if left untreated, has the ability to send a person into anaphylactic shock.The good news is, these ants are easily identifiable, growing to 4mm in length with their bodies alternating in red and black.
If you believe you may have a bulldog ant infestation in your backyard, call your local pest controller.
3. How many species of ants are in Australia?
Across the world, there are over 15,000 different species of ant. However, Australia is home to only 1,300 of those species, most of which are harmless to humans and property.
4. What is the most common ant in Australia?
The most common ant in Australia is the carpenter ant. Sometimes known as sugar ants, these ants are varied in size, but usually can be identified by their light brown colour. They don’t sting humans, but may leave a bite if aggravated.
5. Are white ants and termites the same?
Yes, white ants and termites are the same ant. Although, unlike most ants, termites live off a strict diet of cellulose. Termites are a serious problem in Australian homes, especially those made of timber frames. Getting a regular home inspection is very important as these ants are normally hard to identify until it is too late. For more information on termite management, contact your local pest controller.
6. How do I know if I have termites in my home?
Termites are often hard to identify, which is why it’s best to contact a pest controller to inspect your home. Some signs of termites to look out for may include:
- Muddy, cave-like tracks on walls, inside or outside.
- Hollow sounding timber.
- Curving or sagging walls and floors.
- Brittle and easily damaged wooden elements in your home, such as door jams and skirting boards.
- Regular unexplained power outages, termites have a tendency to be attracted to the warmth generated by internal electrical wires.