Several eco regions are contained within the borders of Texas, including the desert southwest, the northern plains, and the subtropical southeast. Since ants are an essential part of nearly all healthy ecosystems, it should not be surprising to learn that the large state of Texas sees a variety of ant species. The most well known ant pest in the state is arguably the red-imported fire ant, which is an invasive species that harms the natural ecosystem in the eastern two thirds of the state where they are most abundant. Of course, red-imported fire ants are well known among residents as damaging lawn pests that occasionally enter homes.
A native fire ant species, the southern fire ant, invades homes more frequently than their invasive relatives, but these ants are largely limited to the southwestern portion of the state. Two other invasive ant species in Texas, the Tawny crazy ant and the Argentine ant, have also become well known among the public due to their media exposure and their habit of invading homes in large numbers. The most common and well known non-invasive ant pests in Texas include odorous house ants, yellow ants and pavement ants. Little black ants, acrobat ants and thief ants are also common home-invaders throughout Texas, though most residents have likely never heard of these ant pests.
Little black ants are serious indoor pests throughout Texas, as these pests establish nests within brick masonry, structural wood and wall voids. Workers of this species are relatively small at only 1.5 mm in length, and they are aptly named for their jet black appearance. Thief ant workers are also found in all areas of Texas and are quite small, at 1.2 to 1.8 mm in length with a body color that varies from yellow to dark brown. While many ant pests invade homes from outside nests, thief ant infestation cases almost always see indoor nests located in wall voids. Both thief ants and little black ants feed on indoor grease and sweets, but thief ants prefer high protein foods, while little black ants prefer to feed on honeydew derived from the feces of sap-sucking insects.
Have you ever heard of little black ants or thief ants?