Common problematic ants found in the Portland area.
There are some years where ant populations in Portland don’t cause many issues. Then, there are others such as this year, where they have become quite a problem. There are many different breeds of ants in the area, and their increase in numbers have not been noticed only by residents. Portland pest control companies have also been reporting on the unusually high number of unwanted ants this year. The types of ants that are normally found in and around the Portland, Oregon area are:
- Odorous house ants
- Pharaoh ants
- Concrete ants
- Harvester ants
- Thatching ants
- Moisture ants
- Velvety tree ants
- Carpenter ants
There are a few other species that cause the occasional infestation issue, such as little black ants or citronella ants, but these are less common and less problematic than the the species that are listed above. The following are the most problematic ant species that Portland pest control companies commonly deal with.
Odorous house ants are the most common pest in America:
All Portland pest control companies can agree: Odorous house ants make up the majority of cases regarding ant infestations. These little pests are small, ranging in size from 1/16” to 1/8” in length. They are brownish-black in color, and have a distinctly comical manner of walking with their rears up in the air. Part of why they are deemed odorous is the telltale method of identifying them. Squishing one produces an offensive aroma that is akin to rotten coconut or soured butter. In other words, they can give stink bugs a run for their money when it comes to smelliness. Aside from their unpleasant odor, they are one of the biggest pest concerns in the Portland area due to how hard they are to control. Sometimes called “sugar ants,” these sweet loving insects tend to ignore most baits, even when they are sugar based.
Most mounds are made by harvester and thatching ants:
Petite like odorous ants, harvester and thatching ants only measure 1/4” to 1/2” in length. Both species are red to reddish-brown in appearance, and are often mistaken for fire ants. Luckily though, fire ants do not exist in the colder climate region of Portland. Even though harvester and thatching ants are less common in the Portland area, it is important to remember that they are a breed that can sting. Educated advice from a Portland pest control company regarding levels of interaction with these types of ants is to use your best judgment. If they have built a mound that is not in the way of children or pets, then they should be left alone. They prey on other harmful insects, and in doing so can be a vital part of the local ecosystem.
The pharaoh ant is the worst pest to deal with:
Ant pest control in Portland, Oregon can be a tricky business, especially when it comes to controlling pharaoh ants. The tiny, 2mm long pharaoh ant is a light golden brown color, with a darkly tipped abdomen. Unlike regular colonies, pharaoh ants do not produce flying swarms when they expand to new colonies. They keep the process internal, with mounds growing into large, multiple queen organizations. What makes this an issue is that, when people try to use store bought treatments, they tend to upset the colony into what professionals call “fracturing,” which motivates the ants to split up and produce another colony. This means that a single colony of pharaoh ants can quickly double their numbers exponentially if attempts to exterminate the colony continue to fail. Of any ant pest in the Portland area, pharaoh ants are one that should be handled by the experts.
Moisture ants live and feed within rotting wood:
True to their name, moisture ants require a source of water to survive and prefer to live in damp environments, making Portland their ideal location. Worker moisture ants vary in color from yellow to black, and are typically 1/6–1/8-inch long. Because they construct galleries within the rotting wood that they also feed on, moisture ants are often confused for the feared carpenter ant. They main difference between the two is the fact that moisture ants actually digest the wood, while carpenter ants tunnel through it. It can be difficult to tell the difference between the two, which is why it’s always important to call an expert when you have wood-destroying ants.
Perhaps the most infamous of destructive ants are carpenter ants:
No property owner wants to learn they have a carpenter ant infestation. With over 1,000 carpenter ant species in existence, this ant is a constant threat to wood structures. Although these wood-destroying insects tunnel through and nest within wood, they do not feed on it. Nonetheless, carpenter ant infestations can be severe and cause significant damage to the foundation or structure of any wood building. One of the best ways to identify carpenter ants is through the small holes they create when tunneling through wood; the corresponding sawdust left behind from this action may appear in piles near their tunnels. Controlling carpenter ants can be tricky and always requires the expertise of a professional.
Velvety tree ants are known to nest and tunnel through trees:
Although velvety tree ants rarely infest homes or buildings, they are nonetheless considered to be a threat here in the Pacific Northwest. Named for their smooth, velvety abdomen, these ants have a black body with a reddish midsection and brown head. One of the velvety tree ant’s most defining characteristics is the unpleasant odor they release when crushed or when the colony is threatened. While they do not sting, they have been known to bite in defense. Perhaps the most dangerous thing about these ants is the fact that they are not picky about the type of tree they infest—oaks, cottonwoods, pines, and sycamores are all at risk. If you think velvety tree ants have infested a tree in your yard, it’s best to call in a professional pest control company.
Also known as pavement ants, concrete ants are very common in urban environments:
Most often found underneath stones, sidewalks, and in concrete slabs, concrete ants are a very common ant here in Portland. Although they are most often outdoors near sidewalks or driveways, pavement ants may make their way inside and nest in walls, insulation, or floors. Once they have infested a building, they can be hard to get rid of due to the fact that they will feed on just about anything, enabling their population to grow rapidly. Their mounds are easily identifiable due to the mounds they leave behind as a result of their digging habits. Because colonies can grow to be thousands of members in size, it is essential to get professional help for concrete ants.