Types of Ants in Illinois

Around 120 to 130 species of ants are present in Illinois, and some of them are not harmful, while a few can become invasive and kill other insects in the territory.

Types of ants in Illinois include odorous house ants, small honey ants, tawny crazy ants, carpenter ants, thief ants, rover ants, citronella ants, argentine ants, pavement ants, acorn ants, cornfield ants, acrobat ants, yellow meadow ants, pharaoh ants, and grey field ant.

A large number of insects are spread in different regions of Illinois, but pharaoh ants come on the top for the higher population as these insects have invaded the state widely.

Ants in Illinois Body length Dietary habits
Odorous house ants 0.25 to 0.32 cm Sweet food, nectar, honeydew
Small honey ants 0.35 to 0.60 cm Juices, honeydew, meat
Tawny crazy ants 0.20 to 0.27 cm Spiders, beetles, plant parts
Carpenter ants 0.35 to 0.72 cm Honeydew, fruit flies, crickets, worms
Thief ants 0.05 to 0.32 cm Sweet food, cheese, meat
Rover ants 0.15 to 0.20 cm Tree sap, crumbs, honeydew, nectar
Citronella ants 0.40 to 0.48 cm Plant roots, cake crumbs, honeydew
Argentine ants 0.21 to 0.30 cm Pet food, dead insects, sugary drinks
Pavement ants 0.27 to 0.39 cm Termites, meat, seeds
Acorn ants 0.25 to 0.40 cm Dead insects, nectar, sweet food
Cornfield ants 0.24 to 0.30 cm Seeds, honeydew, insects
Acrobat ants 0.25 to 0.32 cm Mealybugs, sap-sucking insects, sugar
Yellow meadow ants 0.22 to 0.40 cm Honeydew, other insects, nectar
Pharaoh ants 0.10 to 0.20 cm Fruit, sugar syrup, meat
Grey field ant 0.62 to 0.75 cm Grass seed, arthropods, honeydew

 Odorous house ants

This species is commonly spread throughout America in different states, including Illinois. You can differentiate them from other species by their distinct body odor and brownish-black color.

Moreover, its body size ranges between 0.25 to 0.32 cm on average and gets increases for winged queens and drones. It gets attracted to sweet food items and honeydew or juicy nectar.

They do not build permanent nests and keep shifting their colonies according to the availability of sources. Scouting members search for a suitable spot and form long trails to reach new locations.

Small honey ants

Small honey ants are somehow dependent on aphids for food and nutrition. They prefer to eat honeydew, which is a sugar-rich secretion that provides many healthy nutrients to tiny creatures.

Liquid foods are easier to consume and digest than solid particles that need to be chewed on before consumption and take more time to break down into simpler compounds.

These insects can extend from 0.35 to 0.60 cm at maximum and appear brownish-yellow. They can quickly get under the concrete floor or hide behind the walls during hot summer days.

Tawny crazy ants

They get attracted to dead bodies of spiders and dead bodies of beetles and chew their complex bodies into smaller parts. They are 0.20 to 0.27 cm long insects having crazy movements.

Moreover, these opportunistic creatures support aphids’ growth by protecting them from predator attacks, shifting to non-infested plants, and consuming their sweet secretions for nutrition.

They lack a functional stinger to kill their predators, so you can see them eating only dead bugs and worms. However, these erratically moving insects can bite you hard on the skin.

Carpenter ants

Different types of insects are found in Illinois, including these insects having 0.35 to 0.72 cm long bodies.

These insects like to feed on honeydew and climb to the leaves of plants to reach hidden aphids.

Moreover, you can find them navigating in the territory searching for dead insects and worms like fruit flies and crickets, as they can fulfill their body’s protein requirements.

Some common wood or carpenter ants living in Illinois include Camponotus nearcticus, and Camponotus discolor, which are spread in humid and warm places.

Thief ants

Some insects are known for their sneaky behavior, as these can attack the eggs of other insects and steal them for nutrition. These are named after their stealing behavior and are annoying.

They have small-sized stingers and inject their deadly poison into prey or predator to make them die or fall on the ground due to severe pain.

In addition, they prefer sweet food items like cake crumbs and get attracted to sweet fruit juices or drink spills on the floor.

You can see swarming insects at the end of summer, as their mating months are July, August, and September.

Rover ants

It is one of the newly identified pests from the order Hymenoptera within the US that is spread to different regions, including Illinois. They have uneven thorax and 9-segmented antennae.

Moreover, they are 0.15 to 0.20 cm long insects appearing in dark color as they can attack root aphids to get nutrition from their secretions.

It is an indoor pest that is not considered dangerous as they do not sting or bite until it gets disturbed. You can identify this species by a hairy ring on the gaster and a single node on the petiole.

Citronella ants

They are commonly found close to the roots of a plant to seek nutrients and moisture from the soil. In addition, you can find them crawling on the kitchen floor to collect crumbs or food particles.

These insects are almost 0.40 to 0.48 cm long and appear yellowish-golden. You can see their colonies under the wood piles, landscape timbers, trash cans, and paving stones.

Moreover, you can find winged females on the sidewalk during the swarming season that lasts for 2 months in spring, from May to April, and from September to October at the end of the summer season.

Argentine ants

These are successful ant species in Illinois as they can fight well to protect their resources and kill other insects if they try to get entered their territory.

Moreover, they lack a stinging organ, but their bites are painful and can kill any invading organism because these argentine ants are aggressive.

They can extend from 0.21 to 0.30 cm in length and, feed on pet food dead insects like spiders and beetles, and get attracted to sugary drinks or spills on the ground.

They can live for a few months or even a year, but queens can survive longer than workers. The male members are only meant for mating and die after transferring sperm into spermathecal.

Pavement ants

These insects range in size between 0.27 to 0.39 cm and consume the meat of dead insects, plant seeds, oil, and termites to get good protein content.

Moreover, they are commonly found outdoors and live under the paved surfaces of driveways. However, they can move indoors when their nests get destroyed due to flooding or wind.

It becomes difficult for these tiny creatures to live in cold and disturbed conditions, so their colonies begin to move inside buildings to find a safe place.

Acorn ants

Temnothorax curvispinosus are usually found in the cavities of acorn trees and twigs, but a few build nests in the areas close to streams and choose walnut shells to live and multiply.

Moreover, these insects are 0.25 to 0.40 cm long and consume dead insects to get protein and reach sweet secretions or other food items to fulfill carbohydrate needs.

Their nest structure differs from others as their mounds have two entry spots for entry and exit from the chambers while going out to collect food or reproduction.

However, the diameter of entry points is usually smaller, but they can also live inside cavities with a larger diameter and modify them according to requirements.

Cornfield ants

Lasius neoniger is 0.24 to 0.30 cm long and appears dark brown. It is also known as lawn ant and is commonly found in open areas like lawns, cornfields, and under stones or bricks.

It prefers to feed on seeds, dead insects, and honeydew, as sweet secretions provide plenty of energy to ensure its survival and avoid death due to exhaustion.

In addition, it is supposed to be an abundant species on the continent, and these insects are distributed throughout North and South American regions.

It is named cornfield because it can cause severe damage to corn crops by building nests in the field in addition to dense forests, sunny surfaces, and meadows.

Acrobat ants

These insects enjoy eating mealybugs, and workers prefer sugary foods to survive in the long term without getting tired of their tough activities.

Additionally, these acrobatic creatures are 0.25 to 0.32 cm long, while the queens and males can reach 0.5 to 0.9 cm and 0.3 to 0.4 cm in length.

They are usually found under wooden logs, stones, and firewood infected with mold or going through a decaying process.

These insects mate in the late summer from August to September when days are humid and slightly warm to make them fly higher in the air and engage in a nuptial flight.

Yellow meadow ants

These yellow meadow or yellow hill ants are naturally shy and remain under the ground to avoid scorching heat and predators.

They make efforts to locate food sources inside tunnels like worms and aphids. They have smaller eyes and moderate-sized bodies and appear yellowish brown.

Moreover, they are 0.22 to 0.40 cm long and are present close to plant roots and leaves to eat the soil’s honeydew, nectar, and other smaller insects.

Pharaoh ants

It is one of the common household ants that is not easy to control inside the home as these smaller creatures can reach every corner of the house due to their tiny size.

Moreover, they can eat a variety of food items to fulfill their nutritional requirements, like meat for proteins and fruits or sugar syrup for carbohydrates.

Their antennae are long and divided into 12 segments, but their eyes are smaller, containing only 4 to 8 ommatidia that are not enough to support good vision.

These do not use stingers frequently, but you can expect a slightly painful sting or bites after disturbing their colonies or soil mounds.

Grey field ant

These insects are 0.62 to 0.75 cm long, appearing greyish black. They are diurnal insects that are usually seen foraging in the daytime and build their nests when there is natural light from the sun.

They reach underground nests when darkness prevails and get busy in the nest activities, like the formation of tunnels and tending of larvae for growth.

In addition, Formica cinerea has a silvery shine on its bodies, and its colonies are polygynous. They need 55 to 60% humidity in their habitat to survive and avoid the risk of exoskeleton drying,

These insects build well-organized colonies and coordinate in killing or transporting their prey if it is larger in size. They enter the hibernation stage in October and come out of the nests in March.

Pleasant warm weather favors their growth and allows queens or winged females to mate and initiate a new colony and raise the population.

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