Pests

15 Facts About Sugar Ants | Different Types of Sugar Ants & More

Sugar ant is a common name given to certain species of ants that love to feed on sweet and sugary food. These ants are generally tiny and harmless.

However, they can be a real nuisance especially when they begin to invade houses in search of food. Here we share a few facts about sugar ants that you might like to know.

What do sugar ants look like? 

what do sugar ants look like

Sugar ants are small in size.

The length of the male sugar ant is about 1.5 to 2 mm and the length of the female sugar ant is about 4 to 4.5 mm. 

The sugar ants have a long pair of antennae and 3 pairs of legs.

The antennae are sensitive enough to perceive ground motions, aromas, and air currents.

By the use of their antennae, sugar ants can recognize each other and sense danger. If they lose their antennae, they can’t get any information and they can’t find their way back home. 

15 Facts About Sugar Ants

1. What are sugar ants?

Sugar ant is a term commonly given to any type of ant that feeds on sweet or sugary food. They are found both indoors and outdoors.

They can be quite a nuisance because of their tendency to invade houses in search of food.

There are many types of sugar ants, from Pharaoh ants to the common odorous house ants. Their common trait is a love for sugary food.

2. How long do sugar ants live?

Different species of sugar ants have different lifespan:

  • Pharaoh Ant: Queens live about 4 to 12 months, while males got a very short lifespan comparatively, they just live about three to five weeks after mating.
  • False Honey Ant: Workers can live at least two years.
  • Argentine Ant: The workers of Argentine ants live about a month or a little more at the adult stage, but the queens live up to 10 years.
  • Odorous House Ant: Adult queens and workers can live for several years.

3. What attracts sugar ants?

Almost any kind of sugary food attracts sugar ants. Sugar, honey, cake crumbs and jelly are just some of the foods that they like.

Although they also eat proteins and fats from other insects they primarily go after sugary things.

Any kind of sugary spills, scraps, and stains are a major attraction to the sugar ants. The smell of sweet food in containers also attracts them.

4. What do sugar ants eat?

Sugar ants eat a variety of food. They are omnivorous like most ants and eat other insects and other invertebrates like caterpillars.

They also feed on plant pollen as well as honeydew obtained from aphids (insects that feed on plant sap). Nectar and other secretions from plants are also a source of food for these ants.

However, sugar ants mostly go after sweet foods including those found in your house. They love food like peanut butter, jelly, bread, chocolate, candies and other such foods lying on the floor.

5. Where do sugar ants live?

Sugar ants like to live in places where it is warm and humid. They build nests known as colonies.  Woodlands and forests are some of the wild places where sugar ants can be found.

They like to build nests among rocks as well as twigs and branches of trees and other plants. Sugar ants also make their dwelling inside the soil.

Although they can be found in wild areas sugar ants like to live in places near human habitation.

They like to nest inside cracks and holes in or around the walls and floors of houses.

6. Where do sugar ants hide?

In the wild sugar ants hide inside their nests in rocks, trees and shrubbery in the daytime.

If they are living inside houses their nests are found in areas where the ants can hide undisturbed. Basements are good places to build nests and hide during the day.

Cracks in the walls and floors, crevices, and small holes in the house are also some of the places where sugar ants make nests. They hide in the daytime and come out for food at night.

7. Why are sugar ants in the house in winter?

Sugar ants like to live in warm and humid places and normally avoid the cold. The presence of sugar ants in the house in winter is a sign that they are nesting inside the house itself.

They are probably nesting in the cracks and crevices of the walls and floors enjoying the warmth of the house. This makes it very difficult to remove them.

8. How many sugar ants are in a colony?

A sugar ant colony can have up to many thousands of ants. Sugar ants are social which means they live in colonies.

Each colony typically has a queen, a few reproductive males and worker ants. However, there are colonies consisting of more than one queen.

The reproductive males die soon after mating. Each colony can consist of multiple nests too with each nest being home to thousands of sugar ants.

9. When are sugar ants most active?

Like most ants, sugar ants are nocturnal. This means they are mainly active at night. They sleep during the day in their nests, hidden from prying eyes.

For sugar ants, the most preferred time to look for food is in the night. The typical time to hunt for food is just before sunset and a few hours after sunset. This is the best time to catch and get rid of them.

10. What are the different types of sugar ants?

The following ants are called sugar ants in the US because of the way they seek out and eat sweet food.

  • Acrobat ants
  • Cornfield ants
  • Argentine ants
  • Odorous house ants
  • False honey ants
  • Pavement ants
  • Pharaoh ants

However, the Banded sugar ant (Camponotus Consobrinus), a native of Australia, is the only ant that is named sugar ant.

11. What is the difference between sugar ants and ghost ants?

The main difference between ghost ants and sugar ants is their color. Ghost ants are named so because of their tiny size which makes it difficult to see them.

They are pale in color especially in the legs and abdomen. They appear and disappear quickly like ghosts.

Ghost ants are between 1.3 mm to 1.5 mm in size. Sugar ants are between 2 and 15 mm in size. Sugar ants are also darker than ghost ants and hence not difficult to spot.

12. What is the difference between grease ants and sugar ants?

The main difference between sugar ants and grease ants lies in their food choices.

Sugar ants are fond of sugar or sweet foodstuff such as peanut butter, jelly, cakes, sweet juices, etc.

Grease ants are fond of fats and proteins. Grease ants like to eat other insects which give them protein as well as greasy food like meat and cheese.

Sugar ants can be trapped by baiting them with sugary food but that does not work with grease ants as they will avoid it.

A sugar-free bait is needed to trap grease ants. Grease ants don’t bite people but sugar ants will. Grease ants make more than one nest but sugar ants usually have one nest to live in.

Apart from these differences grease ants also prefer indoor habitation while sugar ants can live both indoors and outdoors.

13. What is the difference between sugar ants and fire ants?

The main difference between sugar ants and fire ants is in their behavior. Fire ants can be extremely aggressive.

They will attack anything that they perceive as a threat. Sugar ants on the other hand are not aggressive.

Although they do bite, it’s only in defense. Sugar ants have yellow-orange bodies while fire ants have reddish-black or reddish-brown bodies.

Fire ants have stingers for injecting venom as well as mandibles for biting, unlike sugar ants which do not have stingers.

14. What is the difference in piss ants and sugar ants?

The main difference in piss ants and sugar ants lie in their smell. Piss ants give out a urine like smell when squeezed and hence the name.

Sugar ants give off a different odor. Nests of piss ants also smell urine because of the presence of formic acid generated by the ants. Sugar ants are between 2 and 15 mm in size while piss ants range from 1.4 mm to 1.6 mm.

The color of a piss ant can range from light yellow to reddish-brown and black. Sugar ants normally have yellow-orange bodies. Piss ants have long antennae to sense danger, unlike sugar ants.

15. What is the difference between carpenter ants and sugar ants?

The main difference between carpenter ants and sugar ants lies in the shape and size of their bodies.

Carpenter ants have heart-shaped heads while sugar ants have regular circular heads. carpenter ants also have a symmetrical thorax, unlike sugar ants.

Sugar ants can be extremely tiny but carpenter ants are significantly larger than the average sugar ants with their size ranging from 9 mm to 12.5 mm while sugar ants can be much smaller than that.

Carpenter ants have a color that varies from red to black while sugar ants have a yellowish-orange color. Unlike sugar ants, carpenter ants can tunnel through wood causing much damage.

Final words:

Sugar ants are small and basically harmless. However, they can cause immense trouble if allowed to nest inside houses. This is due to the fact that they carry bacteria which can contaminate food.

Learning more about sugar ants helps us to deal with them more effectively and restrict the damage they can do. We hope you find these facts helpful.

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