Are Ants Actually Dangerous?

carpenter ants in new york home

When it comes to ants, most people simply think of them as a nuisance. Sure, they are bothersome when you want to sit outside in your yard and they keep crawling up your legs, or onto your arms, or perhaps even into your drink. But are you aware that those pesky ants can actually be dangerous? It's true. When they enter homes, they can track bacteria all over everything, causing illnesses that have symptoms similar to the flu. They can also get into places that can cause damage. Yes, ants can be downright dangerous, given the right circumstances. The following is a close look at the most common ants in our area and some of the problems they bring with them.

Acrobat Ants: These ants don't actually do cartwheels or somersaults but they do have the ability to lift their abdomen over their head, which is unique. These ants are light brown to black in color. The workers grow to be around 1/8 of an inch long and they have 2 nodes between their thorax and abdomen. One more identifying characteristic is the fact that their abdomen is in the shape of a valentine heart.

Mostly just a nuisance pest, these ants do have the ability to bite humans, and they sometimes emit a foul-smelling odor when alarmed. When they get inside, they can contaminate foods with harmful illness-causing bacteria.


Citronella Ants: These ants get their name because of the strong lemony odor that they produce when they feel threatened or are crushed. (Although, how a lemon smell protects them is a mystery!) Citronella ants are yellow and also grow to be approximately 1/8 of an inch in length.

These ants are mostly a nuisance but, like any kind of ant, they can become quite troublesome when they invade in large numbers. This can be especially traumatizing when a person comes upon an object which is completely covered in ants! And these ants can transfer harmful bacteria to foods and food preparation surfaces which can result in people suffering from flu-like symptoms.

Odorous House Ants: These ants are named because, you guessed it, they give off an odor. When crushed (or sometimes just when threatened) these ants give off an odor that some describe as smelling like rotten coconuts. They measure around 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch long and are brown or black in color.

Also mostly a nuisance ant, these have the potential to contaminate foods and cause illness.

Pavement Ants: Named for where they prefer to live, namely, around pavement, these little ants are around 1/8 of an inch long and are dark brown to black in color.

Though it is possible to mistake these ants for carpenter ants (since both kinds of ant are black) these ants do not infest wood or damage belongings in any way. They can, however, invade in large numbers and pose the same issues as the "nuisance" ants mentioned above.

Pharaoh Ants: These ants are usually pale in color with an abdomen that is dark brown to black and measure around 1/16 of an inch.

Of all the ants on this list, these ants are the greatest health threat. Pharaoh ants are linked to the spread of more than a dozen human pathogens and, during the summer months, they are known to enter homes by the thousands. 

Furthermore, they are so tiny that they are able to get inside electronic devices and equipment and wreak havoc.

A More Dangerous Ant

The other kind of ants that we commonly have in this area are carpenter ants. These ants can be extremely destructive if given enough time to chew tunnels and galleries inside the wooden structure of a home. Go here if you would like to learn more about these damaging ants.

If you have questions about any kind of ant that you're seeing around your home or business, reach out to the professional pest controllers here at Thomas Pest Services. We offer one-time service as well as year-round pest control, with the knowledge, experience, and equipment to take care of any pest problems you may be facing. Call us today for professional, prompt assistance.

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For Expedited Service Call (518) 641-1583

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