Field Ants

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Field Ant outside a home in Waldorf MD

 

Field Ants

Field ants are very diverse, with more than 100 species in North America, and they are distributed throughout the United States. The Allegheny mound ant is a type of field ant that is common in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. They are called field ants because they prefer nesting in the open, but many field ants will also nest in woodlands. They nest in soil or decayed logs, and are sometimes referred to as "mound" or "thatching" ants because some species of field ants will construct their nests from small twigs, grass stems, leaves, and pine or fir needles. They are rarely found indoors, but are common around homes and other buildings.

Field ant mounds, which can reach a foot or more in diameter, may blemish lawns. If nests are disturbed or stood upon, ants may aggressively swarm out of the nest and bite the intruder. Their bite can pierce skin, and they can spray formic acid which may make a wound sting. The irritating formic acid odor can sometimes be smelled when dispensed by enough ants. The Allegheny mound ant found in the greater DC, Maryland & Northern Virginia area builds mounds that are similar in size to the red imported fire ant, causing their mounds to be mistaken for those of the red imported fire ant.

Field ant workers vary in size, depending on the species, but most are medium to large ants between 4 and 8 mm in length. Their body color varies - some species are uniformly black, brown, or yellowish, and others are bicolored red and black. Field ants have a one-segmented pedicel with a distinct vertical node. When viewed from the side, the top of the thorax is uneven or notched, which is unlike the even convex curve found on carpenter ants.

 

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