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Identification and tips for Ants Pest control in south africa

Sugar ants (camponotus species) in a group on a white wall foraging for food
Sugar ants foraging for food

Ants are a common sight in South Africa, often spotted in gardens, homes, and commercial spaces. While these tiny insects play a crucial role in the ecosystem, an infestation can be problematic. Keep reading to explore the most common ant species in South Africa, their behaviors, and the risks they pose when they invade homes. We have also included some effective DIY ant control measures, including professional pest control solutions from Black Ant Pest Control.

Common Ant Species in South Africa

There are thousands of different species of ants in the world, but we will cover just a few of the most common species that you are likely to come across in your home or garden in South Africa.

1. Argentine Ants (Linepithema humile)

Argentine ants are among the most widespread ant species in South Africa. Recognizable by their light to dark brown color, these ants are known for forming large colonies. They are often found in urban areas and can quickly invade homes, searching for food and water.

Identification: Argentine ants are light to dark brown in color and have a single node (a small bump) on their petiole, the narrow part connecting the thorax and abdomen. They are relatively small, about 2.2 to 2.8 mm long. These ants do not have a noticeable stinger.

Behavior: Known for forming large colonies and often multiple queens, Argentine ants are aggressive and displace other ant species. They are highly adaptable and can invade homes searching for food and water.

2. Black House Ants (Ochetellus glaber)

Black house ants are small, shiny, and black. They are particularly attracted to sweet substances and are commonly found in kitchens. These ants can contaminate food and surfaces, making them a nuisance in households.

Identification: These ants are small, shiny, and black, measuring around 2.5 to 3 mm in length. They have a single node on their petiole and a heart-shaped abdomen.

Behavior: Black house ants are particularly attracted to sweet substances and are commonly found in kitchens. They are known for their persistent foraging behavior and can contaminate food and surfaces.

3. Sugar Ants (Camponotini)

Sugar ants are known for their attraction to sweet foods. They vary in color from orange to black and are often seen in kitchens and pantries. Their presence is usually a sign of a nearby food source.

Identification: Sugar ants can vary significantly in appearance, but they are generally orange to black and range from 2.5 to 15 mm in length. They have large eyes and a single node on their petiole.

Behavior: These ants are nocturnal and are attracted to sweet foods. They are often seen in kitchens and pantries, where they forage for food. They do not sting but can bite when threatened.

4. Pavement Ants (Tetramorium caespitum)

Pavement ants are small, brown to black ants often found nesting under sidewalks, patios, and building foundations. They can enter homes through cracks in search of food.

Identification: Pavement ants are small, about 2.5 to 3 mm long, and are brown to black in color. They have parallel grooves on their head and thorax and two nodes on their petiole. They possess a stinger, though it is rarely used.

Behavior: These ants nest under sidewalks, patios, and building foundations. They can enter homes through cracks in search of food, primarily protein and sugary substances.

5. Pharaoh Ants (Monomorium pharaonis)

Pharaoh ants are tiny, light yellow to red ants that thrive in warm, humid environments. They are notorious for forming large colonies with multiple queens.

Identification: Pharaoh ants are very small, about 2 mm in length, and are light yellow to red with darker abdomens. They have two nodes on their petiole.

Behavior: These ants are known for forming large colonies with multiple queens. They prefer warm, humid environments and are often found in kitchens and bathrooms. They are difficult to control due to their tendency to scatter if the colony is disturbed.

6. Fire Ants (Solenopsis spp.)

Fire ants are aggressive ants known for their painful sting. They build large mounds and can be a significant nuisance in gardens and lawns.

Identification: Fire ants are reddish-brown with darker abdomens and range from 2 to 6 mm in length. They have two nodes on their petiole and a painful sting.

Behavior: Fire ants are aggressive and can sting multiple times, causing painful welts and allergic reactions in some people. They build large, visible mounds outdoors and can invade homes in search of food.

7. Garden Ants (Lasius niger)

Garden ants, also known as black garden ants, are commonly found nesting in soil and garden areas. They often enter homes in search of sugary foods.

Identification: Garden ants, also known as black garden ants, are small, about 3 to 5 mm long, and are dark brown to black. They have a single node on their petiole.

Behavior: These ants typically nest in soil, under stones, or in lawns. They are attracted to sugary foods and often enter homes in search of food, particularly during warmer months.

Ant Behavior and Infestation Signs

Ants are social insects that live in colonies. They communicate through chemical signals and work together to find food and water. When they invade homes, they often leave pheromone trails to guide other ants to the source, this is why you will often see ants walking in straight lines behind each other. It may seem like they are following each other, but they are actually following a pheromone trail leading them to a food source.

Why You Might See Them:

  • Food and Water: Ants enter homes in search of food and water, especially during dry periods.

  • Seasonal Changes: Ants have an exceptional ability to detect climate change and their behaviour will change depending on the season. Ant infestations are generally more common in warmer months when ants are more active.

  • Nesting Sites: Our homes and gardens provide ideal nesting sites with ample shelter and resources.

Where You Might See Them:

  • Kitchens and Pantries: Attracted to food crumbs and spills. Kitchens will also generally provide access to a water source, particularly near the sink and taps. A few drops of water is more than sufficient to attract them.

  • Bathrooms: Seeking moisture and a water source, as with the water available in kitchens, this is true in the bathroom as well.

  • Garden Areas: Nesting sites such as in soil, under rocks, or in and under plant pots. Along with a food and water source, ants also need a safe place to shelter from the elements and build a colony.

Risks of Ant Infestations

While ants are not typically harmful or damaging to structures and are considered more of a nuisance pest, they can pose several risks:

  • Food Contamination: Ants can contaminate food and food preparation areas by getting caught in equipment, food containers and actual food, often times leaving you with no choice but to discard the food item.

  • Disease: Although ants themselves are not known to carry any significant diseases, they can pick up bacteria which causes diseases and contaminate other areas, surfaces and food. Such as bacteria picked up in the bathroom around the toilet and carrying this bacteria into areas such as the kitchen where food is prepared.

  • Structural Damage: Some species, like carpenter ants, can damage wooden structures, although carpenter ants are not native to South Africa so it is unlikely for you to find them in and around your home. If you are noticing signs of damage to wooden structures, you may be dealing with a termite infestation. You can read more about termites here:

  • Health Risks: Ant bites, though generally not dangerous, can cause discomfort and allergic reactions in some individuals. Some species, such as the fire ant, have a notoriously painful sting and are very aggressive and should be avoided if you come across them.

Effective Ants Pest Control Measures

1. Preventative Measures

  • Cleanliness: Regularly clean surfaces and promptly clean up spills. Especially in the kitchen and bathroom areas. This includes water spills. Even a few drops of water can be an attractant for ants. Make sure that you do not leave food residue and crumbs out, they should be cleaned as soon as possible.

  • Restrict Access to food and water: Keep food in sealed containers or in the fridge if possible. Keep surfaces dry as much as possible and attend to any leaks in and around sinks and plumbing.

  • Seal Entry Points: Block cracks and crevices where ants can enter using silicone or something similar. It is quite difficult to seal all entry points, but the more entrances you can seal, the better your chances of keeping them out of your home.

  • Proper Waste Management: Keep garbage bins sealed and dispose of waste regularly. Clean up and remove any garbage and food spillages that may have been dropped around waste areas.

2. DIY Solutions

  • Ant Baits: Place ant baits in areas where ants are active. These baits attract ants, which carry the poison back to the colony. Ant baits can come in gels, granules and even bait stations. Baits can be highly effective because they are spread throughout the colony which is otherwise quite difficult to reach. They must be placed correctly where ants will come into contact with them in order to be effective though.

  • Residual Sprays: There are many over-the-counter ant control sprays that you can buy and use around your home and garden. It is important to strictly follow the mixing and application and storage instructions on the label and always follow any safety and PPE (personal protective equipment) guidelines.

  • Natural Remedies: Use vinegar, lemon juice, or essential oils like peppermint to repel ants. Fine powders like baby powder in areas where ants frequent can also be effective as it is an irritant to their respiratory system. Natural remedies are only really effective for a short while though and really just provide a repellent action. Once they are removed or washed away, the ants are likely to return.

3. Professional Pest Control

For severe infestations, it's best to call professionals like Black Ant Pest Control. They offer comprehensive pest control services in Pretoria and surrounding areas, including fumigation services and specialized ants pest control. Professional pest control operators can:

  • Identify the Species: Proper and correct identification ensures effective treatment for the particular species.

  • Target the Nest: Professionals locate and eliminate the entire colony once they identify the source of the activity.

  • Professional Pesticides: Pest control companies have access to the most advanced pesticides and technologies which is not necessarily available to the general public. These remedies have been tested at thousands of different sites and have been proven to deliver results.

  • Use Safe Treatments: They are professionally trained and use safe methods to protect your home and family while still being able to deliver effective results.

It is extremely important when selecting a pest control company that you ensure that they are properly trained and registered with the correct departments to be able to legally and safely provide pest control services. If you are ever in doubt, you can check if the company is registered with the South African Pest Control Association (SAPCA) on their website - - SAPCA ensures that all members are registered and have the relevant qualifications, licenses and insurance required to provide a safe and effective service.


Ant infestations can be a nuisance and pose several risks to your home. By understanding the common ant species in South Africa and their behaviors, you can take preventative measures to keep them at bay. However, if you find yourself dealing with a persistent ant problem, it's best to call in the experts. Black Ant Pest Control provides reliable and effective pest control services in Pretoria and the surrounding areas, ensuring your home remains ant-free.

For more information or to schedule a service, contact Black Ant Pest Control today. Remember, when it comes to pest control, we are your go-to professionals for a safe and pest-free home.

Our owner, Jason Stephens, recently spoke about ant infestations in South Africa with some major publications. If you'd like to see them, you can visit the links below.


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