Many people use ant control methods to get rid of field ants without knowing details about these insects.
What Do Field Ants Look Like? Field ants are yellowish-brown, reddish-black, and brownish-black insects having 2 curves in the thorax and 1 node in the petiole. Their body size ranges between 3 to 9mm, and lives in open fields, parks, and lawns. They cannot sting but are responsible for pinching bites causing short-term pain. They prefer to eat honeydew and consume live or dead insects.
Different types of field ants are there, belonging to the genus Formica including silky field, western thatching, red, and wood ants with slight variations in appearance.
However, their behavior of dwelling in the ground and eating habits remain almost the same due to the same genus. So, you can identify any species by its physical and behavioral characteristics.
What does a field ant look like?
Field ants are one of the common species found in different regions of the world, named for their nesting habits as they build mounds in open areas.
Moreover, these insects belong to the genus Formica and are known as thatching or mound, wood, and red ants for their distinct behavioral characteristics.
They appear in different body colors ranging from red, brown, black, and yellowish, and some of these insects are bicolored, having red and black bodies.
They have segmented bodies like others, belonging to different species comprising the head, thorax, and abdomen. They possess antennae, mandibles or jaws, an outer exoskeleton, and six legs.
In the same way, they have slender bodies and two compound eyes on their head in addition to three tiny eyes or ocelli in the center of their head.
In addition, you can identify these insects by 2 curves in the thorax and a single node in the petiole region. The upper sides of their bodies have rounded profile that is not even from each side.
Furthermore, the reproductive drones and females possess wings of varying sizes, while the sterile workers lack these wings as they spend most of their lives on the ground.
How big is a field ant?
Field ants have moderate to large body sizes among insects belonging to the Formicidae family. You can find slight variations in the body length of different members in a colony.
In addition, they are almost equal in size to carpenter ants and reach almost 3 to 9mm body length on average. The workers are only 3 to 6mm long and are smaller in a colony.
Queens are bigger than workers or male drones in a colony and reach around 7 to 9mm in length. The drones are larger than female workers, with body lengths ranging between 6 and 8mm.
Moreover, they produce tiny eggs having smaller bodies that are only 0.3 to 0.5mm long but gain a length of a few millimeters after development.
You can easily distinguish different members in a colony due to prominent differences in their body length. Queens are always bigger than the workers or drones and reach maximum length.
Where do field ants live?
Field ants usually live in open field areas and build bigger mounds in gardens, parks, and lawns to accommodate their colonies.
Moreover, these belong to the genus Formica and are commonly found in Mexico, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, or many other states of the US, supporting their habitat requirements.
Red and brown field ants choose cracks in walls and sidewalks to live, while western thatching ants belonging to this category use leaves, pine needles, or plant twigs to build mounds.
They invade decaying logs, masonry walls, house foundations, lawns, and sidewalks outdoors. Accordingly, they can ruin landscapes and gardens by digging nests in the soil.
In addition, they rarely get inside buildings and invade indoor areas because they can get desired food from outdoors, including insects, honeydew, and plant nectar.
Furthermore, you can find these insects’ nests under porch slabs, bigger stones in lawns, and even reach window sills sometimes when they need a safe place to live.
What do field ants eat?
Field ants are nocturnal insects that remain active in the daytime and forage for food during the day while they get inside nests at nighttime.
Moreover, they are omnivorous insects having broad food options, depending on the availability of the food, because they can consume both plant and animal-based food.
Their primary choice for nutrition remains honeydew secreted by plant-sucking insects like aphids, mealybugs, or scale insects. They build nests in open areas to remain close to their food.
In addition, they can also eat live or dead insects commonly found outdoors and are good scavenging insects as they can feed on the meat of dead animals.
Smaller invertebrates are part of their diet because they can chew the soft bodies of worms and other insects to extract proteins from their bodies.
Are field ants dangerous?
Field ants are not naturally aggressive insects but usually attack when they feel a threat in their surroundings. They lack a stinger, which can help inject toxic poison into the prey’s body.
However, they can bite with bigger mandibles to cause injuries, followed by spraying formic acid from the abdominal opening close to the venom gland.
This spraying of toxins can cause mild to severe pain after pinching bites that disappear after some time. Moreover, these outdoor dwellers can affect the garden beds or lawns of a dwelling.
Any disturbance to their nest can make them aggressive as these insects come out of their nests to take revenge on the intruders, resulting in deadly bites on the body.
So, these are not considered deadly ants due to their non-aggressive nature and lack of stinging abilities, but they can be responsible for significant damage to landscapes and gardens.
They build wider mounds reaching a diameter of 1 to 2 feet, while their width and depth can be up to 3 to 4 feet and 2 to 3 feet at maximum.
They occupy a large surface area on the ground by digging the soil and building nests. So, they affect landscapes by damaging the grass or its root structure and leaving uneven grass behind.
Furthermore, they can be responsible for killing the plants indirectly by facilitating the plant pests for growth and protecting them from predation.
These aphids or scale insects can cause the deformation of leaves and suck essential nutrients from plants and make them devoid of healthy sap-containing nutrients.
What is the colony size of field ants?
Field ant colonies are moderately large, comprising thousands of members that are all present in the garden soil mounds or backyards.
Their colonies usually have three castes or genders, including large fertile females, small sterile workers, and reproductive male drones with varying body lengths and behavior.
Moreover, the queens are bigger and fertile females, as they can reproduce and lay eggs after mating with male partners. She has a longer lifespan in a colony and lives for many years.
However, the workers are sterile and perform other nest activities like foraging and nursing. They have a shorter lifespan than the royal member or queen.
The male drones are born to mate as their only purpose in life is to transfer the sperm into the female body during the nuptial flight. After that, they will die in a short time, as they live for a few weeks.
Furthermore, you can see a significant increase in their population and colony size during the mating period because the queens can lay a large number of eggs at once.