Common Northern California Ants

Ants are a nuisance and can be destructive to your home environment. The following is a list of the seven most common ants found in Northern California.

The Argentine Ant

image of argentine ant

Argentine Ant

California’s most popular household ant is the Argentine Ant. The Argentine Ant invades your property and destroys beneficial native ant colonies. 


These ants capture honeydew-producing pests like mealybugs, aphids and white flies. They rely on their secretions – honeydew – as their primary food source.

The Carpenter Ant

image of the carpenter ant

Carpenter Ants

Because it is one of North America’s largest ant species, the Carpenter Ant can be easily identified. 


Carpenter Ants are large, black and burrow into wood to make their nests. They leave behind fine piles of wood pulp.


Carpenter Ants can cause serious damage to wooden houses.

The Thief Ant

image of thief ants

Thief Ants

The Thief Ant, a tiny ant that is light brown to yellowish in appearance, was named after it snatched the larvae from other ant species. 


These ants are small but have a stinger. It can be quite painful when used.


They are attracted to greasy foods in your home.

The Pavement Ant

image of pavement ant

Pavement Ant

The Pavement Ant is dark brown or black in color. 


It builds its nest under sidewalks, large rocks and makes flats.


These ants have a stinger that allows them to eat sweet and greasy foods.


They will eat any food that is available.

The Odorous House Ant

image of odorous house ants

Odorous House Ants

The Odorous House Ant can be brown or black and may vary in length from an eighth of an inch to a quarter of an inch. 


They can build nests almost anywhere.


When crushed, these ants emit a strong odor.

The Pharaoh Ant

image of pharaoh ants

Pharaoh Ants

The Pharaoh Ant has a light yellow to reddish brown color and a darker abdomen. 


The stinger is non-functional and is used to generate pheromones, which are how the ants communicate with one another.


They can chew through silk, rayon, rubber, and other materials, making them a nuisance.

The Red Imported Fire Ant

image of imported red fire ants

Imported Red Fire Ants

California’s Red Imported Fire Ant is now more common. Female fire ants are yellowish-brown to red. The males, however, are entirely black. 


These ants can be extremely aggressive and can cause painful stings. They can also attack and kill small animals that step on their mounds. They spread their colonies quickly and kill other ant species. Their aggressive mound-building can also cause damage to crops and root systems.

Treatment of Ant Infestations

Although a minor ant infestation can be treated temporarily with an insecticide (like Ortho Home Defense) from Amazon or your local home improvement store, this small ant infestation itself may well be just the beginning.


Where you find scout ants out searching for food, you can bet there's a large colony nearby. It’s best to leave treatment for ant infestations to professional pest control services exterminators. Call or click below...or use our contact page.

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