Ants In North America (List of 24 Native Tiny Marvels) | Updated

What do you know about ants? Nothing much really, isn’t it? When you hear about this insect, all you might do is picturing them in your garden or maybe in the kitchen? Tiny little one’s moving in sharp alignment and mostly on a sugar rush. But, to our surprise, there are, in North America alone, the ant population number between 10 and 100 quadrillion, with more than 1,000 species. Here in this article, we discuss 20 types of ants in North America, you would not spot anywhere else on the globe. Make sure you read all the way down to know some interesting facts. 

20 Types of Ants in North America

1. California Harvester Ant

California Harvester Ant
California Harvester Ant
Scientific name  Pogonomyrmex californicus 
Color  Light red or brown 
Size  0.25 inch 
Geographical location  United States & Mexico 

Only found in North America, mainly parts of Mexico, this species of California Harvester Ant is a member of the Myrmicinae subfamily. They can thrive in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah as well as other arid and semi-arid parts of the western states.   

These ants in North America are recognized by their nest, which is a round crater of loose sand having a single entrance.   

During hot midday, the Pogonomyrmex californicus foragers tend to be an impressive sight. They appear to be running stiff-legged and with an elevated Gaster to get off the heated surface. One of New Mexico’s most aggressive ant species, it has a painful sting.

2. Allegheny Mound Ant 

Allegheny Mound Ant
Allegheny Mound Ant | Credit: Owen Strickland (@inaturalist)
Scientific name  Formica exsectoides 
Color  Reddish tan-head & dark brown abdomen 
Size  3/8 inch (1cm) 
Geographical location  Nova Scotia to parts of Georgia 

Allegheny Mound Ant is the common name for these ants in North America. Their habitat is deciduous forests and open woodlands, where they build huge mounds out of soil and plant waste. These are some of the biggest ant mounds and are used as colonies.   

Small trees and bushes are killed by the formic acid that the ants inject into the nearby plants. However, by controlling insect populations and helping to spread seeds, Formica exsectoides contribute significantly to the environment.

3. Formica pallidefulva 

Formica pallidefulva
Formica pallidefulva | Credit: Wajaworld (commons.wikimedia) (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Scientific name  Formica pallidefulva 
Color   Brown
Size   6-12mm
Geographical location   Eastern U.S. and Southeast Canada

This species’ extensive distribution is probably caused by its capacity to nest in a variety of environments. All of the eastern United States and southeast Canada are home to Formica pallidefulva.

This ant species in North America live in a range of environments, from Plains to the lower-elevation, and Rocky Mountains.

Formica pallidefulva are less aggressive and have a lighter build. These are huge, brownish ants, measuring 6 to 9 mm for workers and 8 to 12 mm for queens.

4. Forelius mccooki 

Scientific name  Formica mccooki 
Color  Brownish 
Size  8-10mm for queens & workers are 6-9mm 
Geographical location  Canada & eastern U.S. 

The ant species Forelius mccooki belongs to the family Formicidae. This ant species in North America builds relatively tiny mounds in the ground. They may also build their nests beneath stones.

Or perhaps at the bases of arid plant species. Their many queens in the nests make an exception in their colonies. Even in the hot afternoon when no other ants are active, the Forelius mccooki worker ants are in swift-moving groups.

5. Texas Leafcutter Ant

Texas Leafcutter Ant
Texas Leafcutter Ant
Scientific name  Atta texana 
Color  Orangish to brown 
Size  Queens can be 18mm, workers between 3-12mm 
Geographical location  Texas, Louisiana, north-eastern Mexico 

It is the fungus-farming ant, or you may also call it the Texas leafcutter ant in the subfamily Myrmicinae. The colors of the Atta texana species range from rust to bland dark brown.

They may have more than one queen in their colonies, unlike the other species in this genus. Furthermore, there are wide variances in their sizes. Worker ants, for instance, can range in size from 1/6 inch to 1/2 inch.

Virgin queens depart from the parental nest carrying a small amount of the colony fungus in their mouth. After mating and selecting a nesting location, this small quantity of fungus will be utilized to begin a new fungus garden. This explains their otherwise named “fungus-farming ants”.

6. Atta Mexicana 

Atta Mexicana
Atta Mexicana | Credit: Hectonichus commons.wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Scientific name  Atta mexicana 
Color  Dark reddish brown 
Size  Workers are 3-16mm, Queens can reach upto 30mm 
Geographical location  Mexico & Arizona 

Atta mexicana is a special species of the subfamily Myrmicinae. Aka the leaf-cutter ant, these are the vectors for the cultivation of the fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus.

The queen is 30 mm long and dark brown. While Workers have thorns and a dark brown appearance. Mexico and parts of Arizona, United States, are home to Atta mexicana 

In some parts of Mexico, they are even eaten as a snack or as part of a meal. They are also fried for tacos. The salsa de chicatanas sauce, which is put on tortillas with grilled meat or cheese, is traditionally made primarily with them.

7. Strumigenys angulata 

Strumigenys angulata
Strumigenys angulata
Scientific name  Strumigenys angulata 
Color  Light orange brown 
Size  Workers 2-2.5mm 
Geographical location  Northern Mississippi 

Strumigenys angulata is a woodland species that is frequently gathered from samples of litter. One may seldom come across this trap-jaw ant.

They mostly flourish in areas of northern Mississippi with mixed hardwood and pine forests. It shares a lot of similarities with another species of the same genus, namely Strumigenys pergandei, and is somewhat related to it. 

8. Desert Acrobat Ants

Acrobat Ants
Acrobat Ant Queen
Scientific name  Crematogaster ashmeadi 
Color  Brown or black 
Size  2.6-3.2mm 
Geographical location  Southeastern U.S. & Florida 

Florida is the natural home of acrobat ants. Their distinctive feature is a body that ranges from black to light brown with a heart-shaped abdomen, noticeably darker than the rest of the body.

Crematogaster ashmeadi eats on living and dead insects, as well as honeydew from aphids, similar to other acrobat ants. Typically, you can find them among logs, firewood, rocks, or under trees. These ants favor moist wood that has been weakened by fungi or rot for nesting.   

The capacity of acrobat ants to acrobatically elevate their abdomen over their thorax and head, especially when startled, gives them their popular name.  

They can frequently be seen all over Florida and the Southeast of the United States.

9. Western Thatching Ant

Scientific name  Formica obscuripes 
Color   Black or bicolored (red & black)
Size   4-8mm
Geographical location  Canada, U.S. 

Also known as, Formica thatching ants are roughly 4 to 8 mm long, which is regarded as large enough for ants. Again, they are stocky ants with huge heads and strong jaws.

Some species are entirely black, but the majority are bicolored—red and black. Usually, the red part is at the head end.

The term “thatching ant” refers to ants that build big mounds that look like they have been “thatched” because they have materials placed on top of them to resemble a classic thatched roof in Europe.   

In opposition to New Mexico, this species is more common in the Pacific Northwest.

10. Florida Carpenter Ant

Florida Carpenter Ant
Florida Carpenter Ant
Scientific name  Camponotus floridanus 
Color   Bicolored- reddish orange with deep black gaster
Size   6.5-11mm
Geographical location   Florida, U.S.

The floridanus species of ants in North America, in the genus Camponotus, has the nickname Florida Carpenter Ant. Maybe due to its size and striking coloration, this species is common across Florida and widespread from Mississippi to North Carolina.

Camponotus floridanus is an aggressive species and they move rather quickly. Bicolored workers and queens have a reddish-orange head, bright to dullish orange mesosoma (middle segment), and legs, which are sharply contrasted by a deep black Gaster.

11. Formica perpilosa 

Scientific name  Formica perpilosa 
Color   Bicolored; red & black
Size   3-9mm
Geographical location   California, Mexico, Sonora, etc.

 A species of ant in the Formicidae family is called Formica perpilosa. In places like the Coachella Valley, California, Sonora, etc., this is a significant economic Grapevine pest.

Nests are present in the ground, and a tiny mound surrounds the entrance. They are widespread in places like Alberta, Wyoming, Texas, California, Chihuahua, and Coahuila in Mexico.

12. Small honey ant

Small honey ant
Small honey ant
Scientific name  Prenolepis imparis
Color   Reddish brown, while males are always black
Size  3-8.5mm
Geographical location   U.S. & Mexico

Popular with nickname ‘winter ant‘, or ‘false honey ant‘, this species belongs to the family Formicidae. These ants in North America has this characteristic nest building habit deep in the ground.

Unlike most of the ant species, they tend to love cold temperatures including near-freezing points. Also, they are only active in their surrounding during early spring and winters.

13. Western Harvester Ant

Western Harvester Ant
Western Harvester Ant
Scientific name  Pogonomyrmex occidentalis
Color   Yellowish brown
Size   6.5-14mm
Geographical location   Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico

This species is a common site throughout the United States like in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, South Dakota and Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Pogonomyrmex occidentalis is an eyeconic type of in the southwest region of the United States due to its abundance and possibly the attractiveness of its nests.

Conical pebble mounds built by this species often have inner chambers and galleries and basal entrances. The workers are extremely aggressive, and the colonies are extensively populated.

14. Maricopa Harvester Ant

Scientific name  Pogonomyrmex maricopa 
Color   Light to deep red
Size   6-12mm
Geographical location   Arizona & Mexico

The Maricopa harvester ant, or Pogonomyrmex maricopa, is one of the most abundant species of harvester ant that inhabits Arizona.

It is also common in the Mexican states of Baja California, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, and Sonora. People consider its venom to be the most lethal insect poison in the world. Rocks and gravel likely build their nest mounds.   

The Maricopa harvester ant’s venom has proteins, peptides, and amino acids, similar to other insect venoms. The alkaloid toxin, which is the most noteworthy element in the venom of the Maricopa harvester ant, generates an “alarm” pheromone that chemically warns other ants nearby.

This is an example of chemical signaling, which explains why ants all seem to sting at once.

15. Myrmecocystus mexicanus

Scientific name  Myrmecocystus mexicanus 
Color   Yellow with darker eyes and thorax
Size   6-18mm
Geographical location   North Mexico to lower California

Most extensively researched Myrmecocystus species. They are nocturnal foragers who collect various wastes and occasionally collect dead insects, however, this is not a significant portion of their diet.

North from Central Mexico to Colorado and Utah, then west to Lower California are some of the regions where you might spot this species. Myrmecocystus is one of the six genera with the common name “honey ant“.

This species execute a peculiar behavior where some of the worker ants swell with liquid food until they become immobile and hang from the ceilings of nest chambers, serving as living food storage for the colony.

16. Camponotus maritimus 

Scientific name  Camponotus maritimus
Color   Dark reddish brown with black head
Size   11mm
Geographical location   California

This native species of North America occurs through a range of habitats. From coastal California to the western Sierra Nevada foothills, in open to wooded settings. Colonies are usually active behind stones than under rotting wood.

Their common habitats include chaparral, serpentine grassland, oak woodland, mixed redwood forest, serpentine coniferous forest, and coastal scrub. Camponotus maritimus ants are extremely sensitive to light and one may observe that frequently.

17. Camponotus discolor

Scientific name  Camponotus discolor
Color   Reddish head and a blackish gaster
Size   3.5-12mm
Geographical location   Louisiana, USA

Camponotus discolor are generalist foragers, which means they consume a wide range of food items. Their usual diet includes small insects and other invertebrates, as well as nectar, fruit, and other carbohydrates.

These ants build their nests in natural cavities such as logs, stumps, and decaying wood. They are polydomous, which means that they have numerous nests and feeding grounds.

It is well known that Camponotus discolor ants have a somewhat long developmental period, and that colonies take several years to mature.

The queen only produces a small number of eggs per day, giving them a relatively low reproductive rate. Thus, their colonies have a rather low population density, with only a few hundred workers on average.

18. Snelling’s Carpenter Ant

Snelling's Carpenter Ant
Snelling’s Carpenter Ant | Credit: Conway Hawn (@inaturalist)
Scientific name  Camponotus snellingis 
Color   Golden brown
Size   5mm
Geographical location   U.S.

This ant species belongs to the family Formicidae. The individuals of Camponotus snellingi have a bicolored gaster and are often larger.

Additionally, it typically has larger nests as well and we frequently discover vast colonies within dead tree branches and twigs as well as beneath the bark of both live and dead trees.

19. Temnothorax pergandei 

Scientific name  Temnothorax pergandei
Color   Yellow, dark brown, or bicolored
Size   2.5mm
Geographical location   U.S. and Mexico

Temnothorax pergandei is a widely distributed species with a wide range of integument colors, sculpturation, and spine length variation. This species builds its nests in soil, nutshells, stumps, and logs.

It is typically widespread in plant communities on higher, drier sites. Altogether, it may be nesting in low flatwoods and hummocks too including shady deciduous woodlands, or shaded prairie areas.

In Florida, it is active above ground all year round and widespread throughout the Eastern United States, be it Michigan, Arizona, or Hidalgo, Mexico.

20. Golden Fire Ants

Golden Fire Ants
Golden Fire Ants
Scientific name  Solenopsis aurea
Color   Light golden
Size   2.5-6mm
Geographical location   Southwestern U.S. & Northern Mexico

Solenopsis aurea are the Golden Fire Ants in North America. The golden fire ant, which belongs to the Formicidae family and the Myrmicinae subfamily, is found in the dry, arid grasslands of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States.

The colonies are present in stony or loamy soils, or under stones, wood, or cow manure, or on the ground, ringed by a small mound.

Solenopsis aurea‘s lengthy brooding period results in small, sparse colonies. The majority of the time, workers have a light golden color with sporadic brown spots.

21. The Black Carpenter Ant

Scientific name   Camponotus pennsylvanicus
Color   Black
Size   3–21 mm
Geographical location   Central and eastern U.S. and eastern Canada

One of the biggest and most prevalent species of native carpenter ants in North America is the black carpenter ant.

Typically, they construct their nests inside living trees, such as balsam fir, sugar maple, sweetgum, Prunus species, and northern white cedar. They can also be found in decaying wooden structures, stumps, and dead trees.

Caution! Carpenter ants attack in defense when their colonies are disturbed. Because of their size, the bite can cause distress and perhaps rip the skin.

22. Ghost Ant

Scientific name   Tapinoma melanocephalum
Color   Light golden/transparent/pale yellow
Size   1.3-2 mm
Geographical location   From South Florida to Volusia county

South Florida has a high population of this species. They almost always seem to prefer living in busy areas, restricted to the regions surrounding buildings. Their nests can be found beneath fallen objects, loose bark, the bases of palm fronds, and bark mulch.

The reason ghost ants have the name “ghosts” is because when they run across light surfaces, their translucent legs and abdomens almost disappear, leaving just their dark thorax and head visible. Pale patches moving are all that you notice on darker surfaces.

23. The Odorous House Ant

Scientific name   Tapinoma sessile
Color   Ranges from brown to black
Size   1.5-3.2 mm
Geographical location   Canada and Mexico

Tapinoma sessile, the odorous house ant, is a native species throughout the United States.

The odorous house ant colony is found indoors in wet areas, such as wall cavities next to hot water pipes, heaters, behind dripping faucets, etc. While outdoors, they are frequently discovered beneath firewood piles or in exposed dirt.

The smell the ants release when crushed is the reason behind their common names, “odorous house ant” and “coconut ant.” It is very comparable to the strong smell of turpentine, blue cheese, or rotting coconut.

24. Pavement Ant

Scientific name   Tetramorium caespitum
Color   Dark brown bodies with pale legs
Size   3.25 to 8 mm
Geographical location   Eastern U.S.

Tetramorium caespitum usually nests in the cracks of residential buildings, beneath sidewalks, stones, and pavement, hence the common name. They consume nearly everything that humans eat, along with pet food, even though it is clear that they have a sweet tooth.

They frequently have their colonies close to water bodies.

The tiny stinger on worker ants is basically harmless but can cause slight irritation to people.


As we conclude this post, we must admit that ants are little marvels of nature. They have a lot of personality worth seeing, and they are more than simply pests in our kitchens. This brings an end to our list of North American native ants that are worth seeking out. In the meantime, you can browse the current articles until we create another thorough and engaging one.

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