Types of Ants in Iowa

A wide variety of ants have invaded the places in Iowa, but a few are more destructive than others and cause noticeable structural damage.

Types of ants in Iowa include carpenter ants, pharaoh ants, larger yellow ants, field ants, yellow shadow ants, grease ants, western thatching ants, acrobat ants, odorous house ants, ghost ants, pavement ants, acorn ants, sugar ants, and fire ants.

Almost 80 to 100 species of ants are commonly spread in different regions of Iowa.

Ants in Iowa Type of organism Colony lifespan
Carpenter ants Omnivores 4 to 6 years
Pharaoh ants Omnivores 1.5 to 2 years
Larger yellow ants Omnivores 3 to 10 years
Field ants Scavengers 10 to 12 years
Yellow shadow ants Omnivores 3 to 4 years
Grease ants Omnivores 1 to 1.5 years
Western thatching ants Carnivores 18 to 20 years
Acrobat ants Omnivores 17 to 19 years
Odorous house ants Carnivores 1 to 1.5 year
Ghost ants Omnivores 10 to 12 months
Pavement ants Omnivores 12 to 15 years
Acorn ants Omnivores 8 to 14 years
Sugar ants Omnivores 10 to 15 years
Fire ants Omnivores 17 to 20 years

Carpenter ants

These are one of the abundant species of ants in Iowa that are known to invade outdoors and reach indoor areas or buildings to locate food or moisture source.

These types of ants have different species but share a common physical feature of a smoothly outlined middle region of the body.

These nocturnal insects are deadly scavengers and eat dead carcasses of larger animals and other insects. Food scraps, jelly, sugar syrup, and plant exudates are their favorite food types.

These social insects form larger colonies and perform tasks known to these creatures once they become adults after passing through a series of developmental changes.

Pharaoh ants

These ants are one of the common household species invading buildings and other spots inside homes. Most commonly, you can find them crawling in hospitals and grocery stores.

These tiny creatures prefer to build their nests under organic debris and even reach the surfaces between linens. Electrical wires, water pipes, and tree branches provide a medium to crawl inside.

A shady area is ideal for these ants to create a mound. They can quickly shift to a new location when they feel the threat of predator attack or lack of food resources.

Larger yellow ants

This type of ant is found throughout Iowa and is also known as foundation ants because they can cause severe damage to house foundations.

They are supposed to build nests within the stumps and under the stones and remove the soil deep in the ground to create tunnels on a larger surface area.

Most commonly, these are outdoor pests but can reach inside the buildings when their body demands food to produce a surplus of energy and perform activities.

Moreover, these insects with smaller eyes are nuisance pests to the owners as they can cause damage to the soil of lawns and affect plant growth after heavy infestation.

Field ants

Many people living in Iowa have to deal with the infestations of field ants when these insects invade lawns or pastures and cause the destruction of the plants.

These omnivorous insects can consume animal-related food and attack smaller insects or arthropods to fulfill their needs.

Plant parts like nectaries also risk attack as they get attracted to floral secretions and consume nectar to get nutrition.

These prefer to live deep in the soil and crawl on the ground or reach tree stems or leaves during mating season or in the fall season when they have to mate.

Yellow shadow ants

It belongs to the genus Lasius umbratus, having yellowish bodies and extending from 4 to 5.5 mm. It is one of the common indoor pests living in narrow cracks and wall voids.

The queens are usually bigger than the workers extending from 5 to 8 mm long and appearing in a reddish-brown shade.

They are known to attack the plant roots and suck sap, making plants deficient in nutrients. In addition, they feed on the sugary secretion released by the root aphids.

Moreover, they construct longer tunnels extending towards the plant’s root in a few days by working fiercely within the soil.

In addition, the winged members leave their nests in July and August and appear in large numbers in the open spaces to attract partners for flight.

Grease ants

Grease ants are thief ants named for their preference for greasy food items and are the smallest creatures that can invade different places in Iowa.

Deep-fried food items and those with a high oil content can attract these insects. You have to keep the burgers, fried chicken, potato wedges, and fries covered to avoid them.

It is a light brown-colored ant having a smooth and shiny body and 10-segmented antennae with a 2-segment club. It is challenging to look for their nests because they can reach far areas for food.

In addition, they form long trails in a straight line while moving away from nests allowing you to follow the trail if you want to know about their nest location.

Western thatching ants

It is named by Linnaeus as Formica obscuripes and placed in a class of insects and Hymenoptera orders. It is found in many North American states, including Iowa.

Moreover, these insects can create impressive mounds ranging in height from 7 to 8 feet that are created with plant material. They can regulate the temperature inside anthills and grow in number.

Their colonies have moderate size comprising 35,000 to 40,000 workers in addition to one or more queens depending on the food availability and time of the year.

Furthermore, these aggressive ants species can bite hard on the skin by fixing pincers or jaws on the skin and pulling it out, resulting in severe injury.

Acrobat ants

These insects have multicolored bodies or appear brown to black in color and have a distinct shape of an abdomen. They are common to many areas within Iowa as they form long trails.

They can move to a distance of a few hundred feet without forgetting the route as they release pheromones that are used as signals to find their way back home.

Moreover, long trails of these acrobatic creatures on electrical wires, pipes, and utility lines indicate their infestation within the home or outdoors.

The presence of wood scrapes and accumulated dirt in the lawn indicate the presence of these tiny creatures as they remove soil to build deep nests within the ground.

Odorous house ants

Flowers and buds are prone to attack by odorous house ants as they prefer to consume nectar and honeydew secretions produced by insects living on the plant.

Sugary substances attract these insects as they need glucose-rich foods to meet their body’s energy requirements and perform tasks without exhaustion.

They have uniformly colored bodies, uneven thorax, and 12-segmented antennae lacking a club. The pedicles contain only one node, and the acidopore lacks a ring of hair.

Furthermore, they are mainly known for releasing an unpleasant odor and have the potential to contaminate the food by transferring harmful bacteria to the food.

Ghost ants

They are indoor pests and invade homes in Iowa, but are found in a small number as their population is higher in Hawaii and Florida.

You can look for their nests in humid places and decaying wood or leaf litter as they provide healthy nutrients extracted from composting leaves.

Moreover, they build large colonies and split into two when it becomes difficult for workers and queens to manage a large number of males and brood.

They can reach the ground surface under the carpets to live for a short time as these areas are usually not cleaned regularly and remain dirty. Dirt mimics their original habitat and attracts them.

Pavement ants

These insects have spread in the Midwestern and Eastern regions of the world and are usually located at dirty sites like piles of dirt on the sidewalk and trash piles on driveways.

They can also make their nests in the mulch bed and foundations of the building. These tiny creatures can feed on various food types, from sweet, glucose-rich food to protein-rich food.

Moreover, they can travel a distance of 25 to 30 feet away from the nest in search of food and nutrition and can get back easily to their homes using visual and chemical information.

Leaky faucets, dirty towels, and poor drainage can attract these pests indoors, in addition to the most potent reasons, like uncovered food and spillage.

Acorn ants

The dry branches of trees can become a suitable nesting spot for tiny creatures like Temnothorax crassispinus, which are widely spread in different states of America, including Iowa.

They make a lot of effort to create their nests and design a mound with two entry holes and deep tunnels with multiple chambers for the colony to survive.

Commonly, they live inside acorns and twigs of smaller size as their colony size is smaller and based on a few hundred workers and a queen.

In addition, they can also modify cavities or holes inside acorns to a desirable diameter to improve their living standard as growing colonies need more space to live.

Sugar ants

You have to deal with the long trails of sugar ants toward a food basket when going for a picnic outdoors, as these annoying creatures can spoil your day.

A pleasant aroma of food can capture the attention of the insects as they eat all day to keep their bodies in an active state. Accordingly, it can cause food contamination by getting inside the packaging.

Moreover, these do not bite frequently but pose a risk of biting when you try to squish a few of their fellows, as it results in the recruitment of an army that are nestmates of the dead ones.

You have to keep the food packages properly sealed to minimize the risk of food contamination and unpleasant bites, as these can climb your legs and feet.

Fire ants

These are also referred to be red ants due to their red or brown colored bodies giving them a unique appearance. The black fire ants are not found in Iowa but in other American states.

They have aggressive behavior and are protective of their territories, as they can kill an attacker immediately by stinging brutally.

Multiple stinging efforts can lead to severe pain leading to itchy bruises and a painful burning sensation on the body of the invader and making them helplessly fall on the ground.

Furthermore, they can transfer poison into prey by fixing their mandibles or pincers within the skin tissue and pulling them out with good force to tear the tissue layer.

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