The infestation of ants has been plaguing Singapore for years as the climate of this island state is favourable for ants to flourish. Also, did you know that there are more than 130 ant species in Singapore?
If you are troubled by constant intrusions caused by ant colonies springing up in your home, you may benefit from learning how to identify one species of ant from another. While it may be challenging to acquaint yourself with all the species, you can surely know how to identify some of the most common ant species in Singapore.
To help you, we have compiled a list of the most common ant species in Singapore. Not only do they vary in appearance, but there are also differences in their foraging habits, nest preferences, and the time of the day when they like to come out of their nests.
Common Ant Species in Singapore
Ghost ants are characterised by their dark heads and transparent abdomens and legs. Approximately 1.3mm to 1.5mm long, these ants may almost seem to vanish when running around. On light surfaces, nothing but their dark head and thorax are visible, while you can only see pale patches when they are on darker surfaces.
Ghost ants are also commonly called sugar ants, thanks to their food preferences. They enjoy sweet and sugary foods that are rich in carbohydrates. Their diet is so rich in greasy and sugar-based food that ghost ants emit a coconut scent when crushed.
This is why ghost ants are most commonly found in households with poor eating habits or shoddy housekeeping. If you have spilt sweet drinks, sweets, or cooking crumbs around the house, your house will soon be invaded by a trail of sugar ants. While this is one of the main reasons for an ant infestation, there could be more reasons too for a sudden ant invasion in your house.
Sugar ants prefer moist and warm indoor places. Check behind appliances, inside cabinets, and under the sink. Thankfully, this ant species is non-aggressive – unless they feel threatened, they will not bite. Even when they bite, it is barely noticeable. Regardless, sugar ants can contaminate food, so you should take measures as soon as you identify them in your house.
Pharaoh ants are tiny ants that reach about 2mm in size. Their bodies are yellow or brown, while their abdomens are usually red or black. Pharaoh ants live in large colonies. The queens usually flaunt a darker colour and can live between 4 to 12 years.
Homeowners usually find it rather difficult to handle pharaoh ants. Not only do these ants bite and sting, but they also react violently to pesticides. Therefore, when you spot a trail of ants, you should not spray insect repellent hastily. Such sprays can cause the ant colony to break up and scatter to various places in your home. This will make the elimination of pharaoh ants very difficult.
Pharaoh ants love to indulge in oily and protein-based food. From syrups and fruits to meats and dead insects, these ants like to feast on them all. This is why you might encounter this ant species in your house, even if you always ensure your home is clean.
The best way to keep pharaoh ants from entering is to store food properly in sealed containers and ensure trash is disposed of correctly. If you still see pharaoh ants, seek professional help immediately. Pharaoh ants are nocturnal and like to nest indoors, so they may be found hiding behind the newspaper stack or inside cracks in the walls.
Crazy ants can be identified by their long antennae and legs. They are usually dark red or black in colour and 2mm to 3mm in length. They are infamous for behaving erratically when their colony is disturbed, which explains the name they have been given. Crazy ants have a unique defensive technique against external disturbances. They scatter in all directions, making eradication difficult.
Crazy ants don’t bite, nor do they sting, but they are still a nuisance to have in or around the house. They live in both dry and moist places, often in the same regions as sugar or ghost ants. While they will feel on a wide range of food, they prefer sugary foods.
Crazy ants are outdoor ants that nest under flower pots, gardens, wood, etc. However, they can crawl around corridors, ponds, and walkway pavements. Entering your home is not impossible if you fail to manage food sources in your home well. Try to reduce access into the house by removing any tree branches adjacent to the house — also, seal cracks, gaps, crevices and entry points.
If all your attempts fail and you still see crazy ants inside the house, do not take matters into your own hands. Spraying insecticide can lead the ants to disperse and populate more areas in your home. There are a lot of other inventive ways to keep the ants out of your house. But even if that doesn’t work, you should get a professional pest control company to gauge the situation and recommend the right treatment.
Carpenter ants are the easiest to identify – thanks to their substantial size of up to 17mm. These ants may vary in colour. Depending on location, they can be red, black, brown, orange, or yellow. In Singapore, reddish-brown and black carpenter ants are the ones commonly seen.
Even though these insects are most comfortable in forested parts, it is not unusual to see them around the house. For example, you might notice carpenter ants in your home if a lot of wooden structures and trees surround it. Don’t worry; they do not bite or sting, as they only like to feed on dead insects and honeydew.
They nibble on wood to make nests but do not feed on wood. This is why carpenter ants are often confused with termites. Be careful because the two pests are very different, so you must have different approaches to handling them.
Worried about how to tackle carpenter ants on your property? The first step can be as easy as spraying some insecticides. Other methods could include conducting simple maintenance around the house, like fixing leaking pipes, wooden structures, etc.
Is your go-to reaction to ants to spray some insect repellent? Then, you should think again. There are different types of ants, and a one-size-fits-all approach cannot help control all of them. It may be challenging to learn about all the 130 species of ants in Singapore in one day, but you can start by familiarising yourself with the four most common types in Singapore.
The common types of ants you might encounter on a daily basis are ghost ants, pharaoh ants, crazy ants, and carpenter ants. Not only do they vary in terms of eating habits, appearance, and nesting preferences, but they also have unique defence mechanisms. So, be sure to learn about them before you choose a pest control technique to tackle ants in your house.