Ants are some of nature’s most hard-working creatures. Whether we consider ants patiently laboring to build a colony, dragging food over long distances back to their homes, or swarming over a much larger insect, we are amazed by their industrious habits and phenomenal strength.

Ant Traits

Ants are members of the insect order Hymenoptera, distantly related to wasps. Worker ants are easily recognized by their combination of a constricted waist at the front of their abdomen combined with their lack of wings. The constricted part of the abdomen, called the petiole, has one or two nodes. Some ants emit an acidic odor that serves as a defense mechanism, while others do not.


At certain times of the year, ant colonies produce large numbers of winged males known as swarmer’s. These winged ants emerge from the nest to mate (in mid-air) and establish new colonies. If the swarm is sighted in a home, it’s certain that a nest is already present somewhere within the house. Except for carpenter ants, most swarming ants are unable to successfully set up a new colony within a home.


Ant society is a hierarchic, composed of a queen, non-fertile females (workers), “soldiers” (ants with larger heads and mandibles) and breeding males, who will later develop wings and mate with the queen in flight. Ants, communicating by pheromones, are able to solve complex problems together, a characteristic that has baffled human researchers. Pheromones are also used to find food and signify the presence of threats.


Ants are omnivorous, feeding on vegetation but also other animals, including rival ants. All ants share a liking for sweet foods, especially those high in sugar. As ants collect food, they leave a trail behind for other ants to follow and are capable of moving a tremendous amount of food back to the colony, relative to their size. Persons with an ant infestation should take care that sweet foods are not left out and that crumbs are cleaned up.


Ants are known for their tremendous strength. Most ants are capable of lifting and carrying objects 20 times their body weight. To put this into perspective, this would be the equivalent of a 150 pound man being able to carry a full grown elephant on his back!

Ants of Michigan

There are six species of ants commonly found in Michigan. Each of these species has different habits and identifying characteristics; they each infest homes in different ways and need to be treated differently. The six commonly found ants in Michigan are:

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