Fire Ants and Carpenter Ants: How to Tell the Difference

Ant Control-fire-ants


Among the most common ant species found in Phoenix are fire ants and carpenter ants. Little as they may be, ants come in large colonies, groups, and armies. Because they work together very well, they can cause a lot of damage to properties and in many cases, serious injuries to humans and pets.

There are plenty of ant species found in the state of Arizona. Aside from fire ants and carpenter ants, you may come across harvester ants, odorous house ants, Argentine ants, Pharaoh ants, and pavement ants among others.

Identifying Features of Fire Ants and Carpenter Ants

Because they look quite similar except for their huge size difference, some may confuse fire ants and carpenter ants with each other. If you’re dealing with an ant problem at home, the best way to come up with a solution that will work is to know about their appearance, usual habitat, food source, and other identifying factors.


carpenter-antCarpenter ants are much larger than fire ants. They measure about a quarter of an inch to an inch. Fire ants, on the other hand, can grow anywhere from 0.12 to 0.24 inches. When it comes to color, carpenter ants also vary and can be dull black or even red. Fire ants always have a dark abdomen and copper brown head and body.

Habitat and Food Source

In a residential property, you will most likely find fire ants in the garden. They are social insects and they don’t bother hiding themselves. They will build their colonies in open areas such as gardens, parks, playgrounds, golf courses, and other places that have a lot of sunlight and soil. You can also find their mounds and tiny hills in decaying wood, logs, and around tree stumps. They may sometimes build their homes underneath concrete slabs of buildings. They are omnivores. Fire ants eat anything including plants, veggies and other animals like spiders, worms, and more.

Carpenter ants also prefer living outdoors where they can find decaying pieces of wood or tree stumps. If they find their way indoors, they prefer to be in moist or wet areas such as beneath tiles in your bathroom or kitchen, shower areas, dishwashers, and more. Unlike termites, these carpenter ants do not eat wood. They simply chew away the wood that’s in their way. It’s easy to know they’re around when you see sawdust-like material on the ground. They look for sources of sugar and protein such as honeydew, sugar, syrup, jelly and other mostly wet-type of food materials.

Dangers and Risks

While fire ants will probably do very little in destroying the structure of your home, they can be very bothersome in your garden especially if you have crops. They are considered one of the most dangerous ant species because their sting is powerful. Their bites can become very painful and even life-threatening for both humans and pets.

Carpenter ants are larger and can even look scarier than fire ants; however, they rarely attack or sting. But if you accidentally disturb their nest, they can bite as a form of self-defense. They become a bigger risk when they find their way into your home. While the damage they can cause to wooden structures may seem small, if they are not controlled or removed right away, serious structural damage is still possible.

Pest Control for Fire Ants and Carpenter Ants

While there are many ways to control ants in homes such as using bug sprays and other DIY methods, many of these insects easily find their way back. In fact, many of them simply don’t leave at all despite what may seem like drastic efforts. If ant problems are becoming very serious in your property, it is best to reach out to professionals who can provide expert assistance. For instance, carpenter ants are usually found outdoors but many of them find their way into your home’s structure. When they decide to build their nest there, you may end up with serious and expensive damage.

For immediate assistance in controlling or removing fire ants and carpenter ants or other pests in your property, Watchdog Pest Control is ready to help out. We offer services in Phoenix, Arizona, and the surrounding areas. Call us at 602-842-5290 for a quote and to set an appointment.


Nobody Wants to Find Scorpions in Their Home

Nobody Wants to Find Scorpions in Their Home

Scorpions have been around since the days of the dinosaurs looking pretty much just like they do today.  There are over a thousand different types of scorpions found all over the world and there are probably more that haven’t been discovered yet.  You can find scorpions on every continent in the world with the exception of Antarctica; it’s a wee bit too cold there.  In the US there are more than 90 types of scorpions with most of them being found in the Southwest.  As interesting as that is, nobody wants to find scorpions in their home.

Keeping Your Home Free of Scorpions

It doesn’t matter what type of scorpion you find they are all capable of delivering a painful sting, some can even kill.  Deaths from scorpion stings are extremely rare that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious.  If you live anywhere where scorpions are part of the environment then you need to scorpion proof your home.  You need to be aware of where scorpions hide, where they find food and then eliminate those places.

Where Scorpions Can Be Found

Starting outside your home you want to get rid of things like piles of wood, debris around the property, grass and yard trimmings and anything that provides shelter for scorpions.  There are bark scorpions that will hide in bushes and trees so trim back any trees or bushes that touch your home.  Firewood should stay outside until you’re ready to burn it and always examine it before bringing it into your house.  Raise your garbage cans off the ground to keep them out of range.  Seal any and all gaps around the windows and doors with weather stripping or caulk.  Put screens where they are needed including vents into your attic.  Here is a closer look at how to scorpions out of your home.

Double Checking for Scorpions

If you call the Southwest home in areas such as Arizona then these are some habits that you want to get into to make sure you stay safe from scorpions:

  1. Check your shoes before putting them on
  2. Shake out clothing that has been on the floor
  3. Wear gloves and shoes when you work in the yard
  4. Avoid going barefoot
  5. Check beds or sleeping bags before you climb in for the night

If you live in the south or Southwest then scorpions are a fact of life and most people pay little attention to them.  However nobody wants to find scorpions in their home and you can take measure to make sure that they stay out.

How Exterminators Get Rid of Ants

How Exterminators Get Rid of Ants

The last thing you want to do is to walk into the kitchen and see a line of ants strolling across your floor.  A couple of ants aren’t so bad and they are easy to get rid of with some over the counter ant killer.  On the other hand if you have an infestation then you need to take more drastic measures and bring in an exterminator to get rid of them for good.  You can find ants almost anywhere but they do like any food that gets left behind.  Exterminators will not only treat your problem they will also help you with preventing this from happening again.  Let’s look at how exterminators get rid of ants.

What Kind of Ants

Once an exterminator comes to your home one of the first things they will do is try and discover the type of ants you are dealing with.  There are thousands of different species of ants, here in the US fortunately there are only about 450 or so and only a handful that exterminators face.  A good exterminator has no problem recognizing which species are plaguing your home.  That makes it easier to figure out which treatment will work the best to eliminate your ant problem. 

Make a Plan

Once the exterminator understands the situation they will take the time to speak to you about any concerns that you may have.  They will go over things like if you have pets or kids in the home that may change the course of treatment.  There are plenty of products for pest control that are toxic so always make sure that you voice any concerns that you may have.  That’s why most will do a consultation with you before recommending a specific treatment plan. 

Some ant species are harmful to your structure, they like wood that’s why it is crucial to identify the species.  The exterminator may have to get in under cupboards and in crawl spaces to discover how they are getting in.  This is how the assess any damage and how extensive the infestation might be. 

Getting Rid of Your Ants

Once everything has been assessed and the exterminator has figured out how they are coming in, the next step is to kill them.  He will either block off their entrance to your home or advise you on how to do it.  Then they will start spraying your home to get rid of the ants that are in your home.  Often they will use a poison that is ingested and that won’t be harmful to pets or people.  If you have a colony on your property they will spray it with insecticide to get rid of it.