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Field Ant Habitat and Behavior Facts

Protect your home or business from field ants by learning techniques for identification and control.

Field ant illustration
Formica spp.
4 to 8 mm
Yellow, Red or Black


How do I get rid of field ants?

What Orkin Does

Orkin Pros are trained to help manage Field Ants and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin Pro will design a unique ant treatment program for your situation.

Keeping ants out of homes and buildings is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps — Assess, Implement and Monitor. Orkin can provide the right solution to keep ants in their place...out of your home, or business.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Understanding Field Ants


  • Color: Reddish

  • Size: about 1.6 to 5 mm

Read more about identification of fire ants.


These ants make their nests in the ground in lawns, gardens, fields and parks. Field ants usually nest near trees, rocks, sidewalks, fences or foundations of buildings. Many species of field ants make a mound with the soil that they excavate under the ground. Sometimes people mistake these mounds for fire ant activity.

Some species of field ants, like the western thatching ant, Formica obscuripes (Forel), make mounds of leaves, grass, twigs or even pine needles. Others, like the California red-and-black field ant, Formica occidua (Wheeler) and the brown field ant, Formica cinerea (Mayr), make their nests in cracks of sidewalks or beside trees or foundation walls.


Field ants eat honeydew. This is a sweet substance that they get from insects like mealybugs and aphids. They find the aphids on trees and shrubs. Some species of field ants, like the silky ants, Formica fusca (L.), keep herds of aphids so there is always a supply of honeydew. Field ants also eat other insects. Some field ants are attracted to meats. Many species of field ants are scavengers.


The field ant, sometimes mistaken for the highly aggressive fire ant, is relatively docile in comparison. Field ants do not sting, but they do bite when disturbed. Some species can spray formic acid while they bite, which results in a painful experience. If victims experience symptoms, the effects are typically mild and subside in about an hour.

Always seek the advice and assistance of a physician if bitten or stung by ants.


Due to the diversity of the genus, it is difficult to make generalizations about reproduction since it varies somewhat between species. At a basic level the colonies consist of a queen who produces eggs. The eggs become workers who perform the necessary daily tasks of the colony.


Preventing field ant problems begins with a careful inspection. Look for things that the ants might use as nesting sites.

  • Place firewood on racks off of the ground and store it away from the house.

  • Move mulch away from the foundation to discourage ants from nesting.

  • Make sure exterior doors close tightly.

  • Replace weather stripping where it is missing.

It is advisable to contact your local pest control professionals. They will have the products and the equipment to control field ants effectively.

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