carpenter ant with wings

Acrobat Ants vs Carpenter Ants: How to Spot the Difference

Ants are one of the most diverse and ubiquitous creatures on the planet. Among their multitude of species, Acrobat Ants and Carpenter Ants are two that frequently intersect with human living spaces. While they are often lumped together due to their similarities, there are key differences between these two types of ants. Let’s explore these distinctions and understand how you can accurately identify them.

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Physical Differences

First, let’s start by examining the physical differences between Acrobat and Carpenter Ants.

Acrobat Ants

Acrobat Ants (Crematogaster) derive their name from their distinctive ability to hold their abdomen or “gaster” over their thorax, akin to a gymnast’s pose when they feel threatened. They are small in size, generally measuring around 2.5 to 3mm in length. Their color can vary widely, ranging from light brown to a black abdomen, and some species even display a red or yellow hue. A significant identifying feature of Acrobat Ants is their heart-shaped abdomen.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants (Camponotus), on the other hand, are relatively large, ranging from 6mm to 12mm in length. They can be black, brown, red, or even a combination of these colors. A key distinguishing feature is their evenly rounded, arched thorax when viewed from the side. Unlike Acrobat Ants, Carpenter Ants do not display any acrobatic tendencies and have a less defined, oval-shaped abdomen.

Habitat Preferences

  • Acrobat Ants

Acrobat Ants tend to reside in moist, decayed wood, such as in tree stumps and under logs, but they do not cause significant damage to the wood. They are also known to infest insulation and can make their homes in existing voids in human structures.

  • Carpenter Ants

Contrarily, Carpenter Ants are notorious for their ability to excavate wood to build their nests, often leading to structural damage in homes. They prefer moist wood, and signs of their presence include small piles of wood shavings or “frass”. While they don’t eat the wood (like termites do), their nesting activities can cause extensive damage over time.

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Behavior and Diet

Acrobat Ants and Carpenter Ants differ significantly in their diets and behavior as well.

Acrobat Ants

Acrobat Ants are known for their aggressive nature. They are omnivorous, feeding on a diet of insects and sugary substances, like honeydew secreted by aphids. They have a unique defensive mechanism, where they raise their abdomen when threatened, hence their name.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants, on the other hand, are less aggressive. They also have a diverse diet but primarily feed on dead or living insects, plant juices, and sugary substances. Despite their size and strength, they typically prefer flight over fight when disturbed.

Pest Control

Both types of ants can become household pests, but due to their wood-damaging activities, Carpenter Ants are generally more problematic.

Carpenter Ant infestations usually signify a moisture problem in your home and require professional pest control services to manage effectively. Meanwhile, Acrobat Ants are less destructive but can still be a nuisance. Regular home maintenance, like sealing cracks and crevices in the structure and maintaining a dry environment, can help prevent both types of ant infestations.

While Acrobat Ants and Carpenter Ants share some similarities, they are quite different in their physical characteristics, behavior, and potential impact on your home. By understanding these differences, homeowners can accurately identify these ants and take necessary precautions to ensure these creatures remain where they belong—outside the home.

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Understanding the Different Types of Ants: An Insight into Ant Biodiversity

Ants are some of the most adaptable, prolific, and interesting insects in the world. There is a broad range of ant species in the United States, each possessing unique characteristics and roles within their colonies and ecosystems. In this section, we will explore some of these types and uncover fascinating facts about each of them.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants are well-known for their wood-excavating activities. They carve out tunnels and galleries in damp, decaying wood to form their nests, leading to significant structural damage in human homes. Notably, they do not consume wood like termites, but their nesting activities are nevertheless destructive.

Fire Ants

Fire Ants get their name from their aggressive behavior and painful sting, which has been described as a burning sensation. These ants are typically red or brown and prefer open, sunny areas for nesting. Their mounds can often be spotted in backyards and playgrounds, causing a nuisance due to their painful stings.

Odorous House Ants

As the name suggests, Odorous House Ants release a distinct, unpleasant smell when crushed, often compared to rotten coconut. These ants are tiny, typically dark brown or black, and are commonly found indoors, searching for sweet foods or moisture.

Pavement Ants

Pavement Ants, as their name implies, are often found under sidewalks, driveways, and building foundations. They are tiny, dark-colored ants that, while generally harmless, can become a nuisance when they invade homes in search of food.

Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh Ants are small, yellow, or light brown ants notorious for being a significant pest in homes, hospitals, and other buildings. They can carry and spread many harmful bacteria, making their control particularly important in healthcare settings.

Worker Ants

Worker Ants are not a specific species but a caste within an ant colony. These ants, usually sterile females, perform the majority of tasks in the colony, including foraging for food, caring for the queen and larvae, and defending the nest.

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Argentine Ants

Argentine Ants are small, dark-colored ants native to Argentina but have now spread to many parts of the world. They are known for their large, supercolonies and can become a significant nuisance when they invade homes, often in search of sweet foods or water.

Nuisance Ants

“Nuisance ants” is a general term often used to describe any ant species that frequently invade human homes or buildings. This term does not correspond to a specific ant species but is often used for ants like the odorous house ant, pavement ant, or argentine ant that invade homes in search of food or shelter.

Ghost Ants

Ghost Ants are tiny ants with a unique coloration – their head and thorax are dark, but their abdomen and legs are almost translucent, giving them their ghostly name. These ants prefer warm, moist areas and are known for their love of sweet foods.

The world of ants is fascinatingly diverse, and each species brings its unique characteristics and behaviors to the table. From Carpenter Ants and their wood-carving skills to Fire Ants with their painful stings, to the ghostly appearance of Ghost Ants, these tiny creatures continue to intrigue us with their complexity and adaptability. Understanding these different types of ants can be of significant help, especially when dealing with these species as potential household pests.

What Causes an Ant Infestation?

An ant infestation in your home or office can be a frustrating problem to deal with. But what exactly causes these tiny creatures to invade our spaces in the first place? Several factors draw ants into human environments, and understanding them is the best way to manage any ant problem.

Wall Voids

Wall voids provide an ideal hiding and nesting site for various ant species. They offer a safe, sheltered environment that is often close to potential food sources. It’s common to find ant colonies establishing their nests in these areas, especially during the late winter, when ants begin their search for suitable nesting sites.

Utility Lines

Ants are known for their extraordinary ability to exploit the smallest opportunities to invade homes. Utility lines, such as electric wires, plumbing, and cables, often enter homes through small holes or openings. These utility lines can act as bridges for ants, allowing them access to your home.

Nesting Sites

Ants are always on the lookout for suitable nesting sites. In particular, Carpenter Ants and Acrobat Ants prefer moist, decaying wood as their nesting sites. Conversely, Pavement Ants prefer to nest under stones or pavements, while Pharaoh Ants and Odorous House Ants are attracted to wall voids and behind window frames for nesting.

Water Sources

Just like any other living organism, ants require water to survive. Any persistent water source can be a major attractant for ants. Leaky pipes, condensation, pet water dishes, or even a dripping faucet can be enough to invite a host of ants into your home.

Window Frames

Window frames, particularly if they are wooden and somewhat decayed or if they have small holes or cracks, can act as an entry point for ants. They can also serve as a potential nesting site, especially for species like Carpenter Ants that are fond of wood.

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Small Holes

Ants are tiny and can take advantage of small holes or cracks in the structure of buildings to gain entry. These could be in the foundation, around windows or doors, or where utility lines enter the home. These small holes can easily be overlooked but are often the primary point of entry for ants.

Late Winter

Late winter is a common time for ant infestations to begin. As the weather starts to warm, ants come out of their winter dormancy in search of food and new nesting sites. This search often leads them into homes and other buildings.

Understanding the causes of an ant infestation is crucial in dealing with an ant problem effectively. Regular home maintenance, such as sealing small holes and cracks, fixing leaky pipes, and managing potential nesting sites, can go a long way in preventing an infestation. If an ant problem persists, it may be necessary to call in professional pest control services to ensure the issue is handled thoroughly and safely.

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How to Prevent and Treat an Ant Infestation

Understanding how to prevent and treat an ant infestation is crucial for homeowners and businesses alike. Here are several steps to take:


  • Seal Entry Points: Inspect your home thoroughly for small holes or cracks that ants could use to gain entry. Pay special attention to areas around window frames, doorways, and utility lines. Seal these entry points with caulk or another appropriate material.
  • Keep Your Home Clean: Ants are typically attracted to food and water sources. Make sure to clean up any food spills immediately, store food in airtight containers, and avoid leaving dirty dishes out for extended periods. Ensure that your pet’s food bowls are kept clean as well.
  • Manage Water Sources: As ants require water to survive, ensure there are no persistent sources of water available. Fix leaky pipes and faucets and properly manage areas prone to condensation or pooling water.
  • Maintain Your Yard: Regular yard maintenance can help prevent ants from establishing colonies near your home. Keep firewood and other wood debris stacked away from your house, manage any rotting or damp wood, and consider professional pest treatments for your yard if ant activity is high.


If an ant infestation does occur, it may be necessary to call in professional pest control services. Here’s a general overview of how professionals might treat an ant infestation:

  • Inspection: The first step professionals take is to conduct a thorough inspection to determine the type of ant involved, locate the nest, and identify the severity of the infestation.
  • Identification of Entry Points: Professionals identify the entry points used by ants and recommend measures to seal these points to prevent future invasions.
  • Treatment: Depending on the species of ant, professionals will select the most appropriate treatment method. This may involve baiting techniques, pesticide applications, or other specialized treatments.
  • Follow-Up: Post-treatment, professionals will usually schedule follow-up visits to ensure the infestation has been effectively treated and provide additional treatments if necessary.
  • Prevention Advice: Professionals can provide advice on how to prevent future infestations, tailored to the specific situation of your home or business.

Remember, the best way to deal with an ant problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. But, if you do find yourself facing an ant infestation, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional pest control service to ensure the issue is handled effectively and safely.

Can Ant Infestations Cause Damage?

Ant infestations can certainly cause damage, and in some cases, significant damage to your home or property. The type and extent of damage largely depend on the ant species involved.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants are the main culprit when it comes to causing significant damage to properties. Unlike termites, they do not eat wood, but they excavate it to build their nests. Over time, this can lead to structural damage in wood around window and door frames, in floors and walls, and in other wooden parts of the building. If left untreated, the damage can become extensive and expensive to repair.

Fire Ants

Fire Ants may not damage the structure of your property, but they can still be harmful. Their painful stings can lead to allergic reactions in some people and pets. Also, they can cause damage to lawns and gardens with their mound-building activities.

Other Ant Species

Other ant species like Odorous House Ants, Pavement Ants, Pharaoh Ants, and Argentine Ants may not directly damage your property, but they can still be a nuisance. These ants can contaminate a wide variety of foods, which can be a problem, particularly if they invade kitchens or food storage areas.

The time of year can also affect the likelihood of an ant infestation. For instance, during late winter and early spring, ants often come out of dormancy and start searching for food and new nesting sites. This is the time when property owners need to be particularly vigilant.

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While not all ant infestations cause damage, some certainly can, particularly Carpenter Ants. Moreover, any infestation can be a significant nuisance, contaminate food, and in some cases, pose a risk to health. Therefore, it’s crucial for property owners to take preventive measures to deter ants.

Carpenter ants

Top Ant Control Professionals

When dealing with an ant infestation, it’s crucial to seek help from experienced professionals. Here are a few top pest control companies and what they’re known for:


With over 100 years of experience, Orkin is one of the most recognized pest control brands worldwide. They are known for their scientifically-based, customized solutions and thorough training program for technicians. Orkin offers a wide range of services, including ant control, and provides comprehensive training to its employees.


Terminix has a long history in pest control services and is particularly well-known for its termite control. However, they also provide robust services for ant control. They are recognized for their comprehensive pest control plans and strong customer satisfaction policies.


Operating under several local brands, including Ehrlich and Western Exterminator, Rentokil is known for its innovative, science-based approach to pest control. They offer both residential and commercial ant control services and are recognized for their expertise in the field.

Aptive Environmental

Aptive Environmental is known for its environmentally responsible approach to pest control. They offer customized pest control solutions based on season and region and emphasize eco-friendly practices in their treatments.

How Much Does Ant Control Cost?

The cost of ant control can vary significantly based on the severity of the infestation, the size of the property, the type of ant involved, and the specific rates of the pest control company. On average, homeowners typically spend between $150 and $300 for professional ant control services.

It’s also important to note that most pest control companies offer regular maintenance plans. These programs, usually provided on a quarterly or monthly basis, can help prevent future infestations and typically range from $40 to $130 per visit, depending on the company and the specifics of the service plan.

Crazy Ants, Acrobat Ants, and Dealing with Infestations

Dealing with ant problems can often feel like a monumental task, particularly when faced with species such as Crazy Ants or Acrobat Ants. These species are known for their unique characteristics and behaviors that set them apart from other ants.

Crazy Ants

Crazy Ants get their name from their erratic and quick movement, which appears “crazy” to the human eye. They are omnivorous, feeding on a wide variety of foods, including dead insects, sweets, fruits, and kitchen scraps. Crazy Ants can quickly become a problem for homeowners due to their large colony sizes and propensity to invade human spaces.

Acrobat Ants

There are numerous species of Acrobat Ants, each with its unique characteristics, but all share the common trait of bending their abdomen over their body when disturbed – a pose reminiscent of a gymnast, hence their name. They usually nest in damp or decaying wood and can become a nuisance when they invade homes.

When faced with an acrobat ant infestation, homeowners may notice an increase in ant activity around their property, especially near potential nesting sites. Like other ants, they are attracted to sweet foods and will often venture indoors in search of sustenance.

ant invasion

Managing Infestations

If you’re dealing with ant problems, whether from Crazy Ants, Acrobat Ants, or any other species, there are a few steps you can take:

  1. Identification: Correctly identifying the species of ant causing the problem is crucial. Different ant species have different behaviors, preferences, and vulnerabilities, so knowing what you’re dealing with can help guide your control efforts.
  2. Prevention: As with any pest problem, prevention is key. Seal potential entry points, keep your home clean (especially the kitchen), and manage potential nesting sites. This can help deter new colonies from establishing themselves.
  3. Professional Help: If the infestation is large or persistent, it may be best to call in professional pest control services. They can provide effective, tailored solutions to deal with the infestation and offer advice on preventing future problems.

While ants play essential roles in the environment, when they venture into our homes, they can become a nuisance. So, if you’re dealing with Crazy Ants, Acrobat Ants, or any other type of ant infestation, remember – there are resources available to help manage these uninvited guests.

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