Grease Ants

Facts, Identification & Control


Grease ants are one of the smallest groups of ants, measuring only 1.5 to 2.2 mm in length. Grease ants are also known as “thief ants” because they nest close to other ant colonies and steal their food and young. Worker grease ants are shiny and measure approximately 1.5 to 2.2 mm in length, with yellow to light or dark-brown bodies. The bodies of grease ants tend to curl when they die. They have two nodes, a thorax without spines, small compound eyes, antennae with 10 segments and antennal clubs with two segments. Grease ants are commonly confused with the pharaoh ant, but pharaoh ants have a three-segmented antennal club.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

As their name suggests, grease ants prefer greasy foods but will eat almost anything, including meats, nuts, cheeses, peanut butter and sweets. Due to their small size, they can easily fit inside food containers. Grease ant infestations are most common in the summer, when they forage indoors for food. When a colony of grease ants identifies a reliable food source within a kitchen, their infestation can be persistent. Grease ant nests can be difficult to locate. They are typically found in rotting wood and soil, but grease ants can also nest indoors in walls or cabinet crevices, baseboards, under countertops and in other hidden areas.


Queen ants and males are part of the ant’s reproductive castes. Queen ants, regardless of species, often are larger than other members of their colonies. Queen ants also have thicker bodies, making them easily distinguishable. The abdomens of queen ants are larger than those of other ants.

Signs Of An Infestation

If you see small ants on the stove, countertop or in the cabinets where food is stored or spilled, you likely have a grease ant. In addition, grease ants are commonly seen in the sink. If a group of foraging ants is found inside your home, it is sometimes possible to follow their trail to locate the nest.

More Information

The most effective way to control a grease ant infestation is to contact a local pest management professional. Your pest management professional will provide an inspection to determine where the nest is located, plus provide the most effective and efficient prevention and control service and recommendations.