Pest Talk: Ants

Ants are one of the most common pest problems homeowners will experience, as well as one of the toughest pests to eliminate from the home. Ants are highly intelligent and social creatures that have adapted to work together for the continued success of their colony. The ProActive approach to ant control means that you’re protected year-round from unwanted ants. You won’t have to be anxious over ants anymore with our quarterly ant control program.


Ants are a family of insects known as Hymenoptera, which contains over 15,000 species of ants. The specific field of entomology focused on the study of ants is called Myrmecology. Ants are highly social creatures that live in colonies with primarily a queen and female sterile workers. Ants forage for food and carry it back to their colonies. They can lift up to 50 times their weight!

Life Cycle and Reproduction

Ants undergo a process called metamorphosis, which includes four phases. The average time it takes an ant to mature from an egg to a worker varies from species to species. For most species, it takes about 3-5 weeks. The four phases of metamorphosis include:

  1. Egg
  2. Larva 
  3. Pupa 
  4. Adult

Most ants in colonies are infertile workers, except reproductive ants known as alates. These ants are birthed by the queen once the colonies have reached a certain size. They are both male and female, with wings. They will begin to mate with one another during a time called a nuptial flight. After mating, the males die off. The females lose their wings and seek out shelter to create a new colony. Those queens will eventually lay new alates and start the process all over. 


Ants are highly social creatures that live in colonies and have a caste-system. Ants are born into their roles in the caste-system and remain in that role for their lifetime. Ant colonies thrive due to their ability to work together in various roles to achieve ultimate growth and survival. Various roles in the caste-system include:

  1. Worker ants build out the colonies and tunnels within it. They also forage for food, defend the colony, and care for young ants within it. Worker ants are sterile females
  2. The dominant queen will eventually stop producing a pheromone, which will indicate that it’s time to start producing alates to become new queens. 
  3. Alates are both male and female and have wings. Male alates serve the sole purpose of reproducing with the females and die off after reproduction has finished. Female alates will lose their wings and become the main queens for a new colony.

Common Ant Species in Illinois

There are many common ant species found in Illinois. Most of these species are minor nuances, but some species like carpenter ants can be potentially destructive to homes and decks. Ants are pests that will require ongoing maintenance and management, no matter what species of ant you’re experiencing in your home. The three most common ant species you may find inside and around your home includes:

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are one of the largest and most destructive ant species that you will find in Illinois. Carpenter ants are larger than most ants and have a dull black color, whereas many ant species have a shinier appearance. Their shape and dull coloration make them easier to identify within the home.

Carpenter ants chew on the wood in homes. If a colony is left untreated in the home it can begin to cause damage to the structure. Signs of carpenter ants colonies include seeing sawdust around entry points of the home or on decks, as well as seeing winged ants (swarmers) around windows. This is a strong indication that there is a well-established carpenter ant colony inside the home, or on the property.

If you suspect you have carpenter ants, common signs of damage to your home would include:

  1. Sunk in ceilings
  2. Bulging walls
  3. Door and windows that are stuck or hard to open
  4. Floors that begin to slope or sink

Sugar Ants

One of the most common ants that make their way indoors is sugar ants. Sugar ants are tiny ants that come indoors to avoid heavy rainfall or forage for food. Their small size makes it easy for them to make their way indoors. There are many types of US sugar ants, which are not the same as the official sugar ant species, only found in Australia. This is a term given to many species of ants that prefer sugary or greasy foods.

Pavement Ants

Another common ant species that are found around homes are pavement ants. These ants are often found living under pavement, as well as under concrete slabs in homes. They prefer areas with low vegetation and are highly adapted to urban environments. Much like sugar ants, these types of ants are attracted to sweet and greasy foods.

Quality Ant Control for the West Chicago Suburbs

Regardless of the type of ant species you’re experiencing in your home or yard, choose the ProActive approach to ant control! We specialize in exterminating and preventing common ant species in the western Chicago Suburbs. Get a FREE quote for ant control today!