The Big-Headed Ant
Big-headed ants (Pheidole megacephala) are an invasive species of ants that often displace other ants, such as fire ants and white-footed ants. They are quite common in the US. Belonging to the family Formicidae, this ant is known as the coastal brown ant in Australia. These ants have disproportionately large heads, and can often infest homes and other buildings.
HOW TO IDENTIFY BIG-HEADED ANTS
- Disproportionately large head (of the major worker ants)
- Reddish-brown body
- Some species of this ant can also be yellowish in color.
- Body is around 1/4th inch in size
Appearance, Behavior, and Signs
Big-headed ants pose no structural threat to your house, and neither do they have a painful bite. But they can be a nuisance because they feed on garbage and other items. They can leave ‘dirt piles’ scattered across the house, as they forage around the area. They can also feed on houseplants, and cause them to wilt.
- These ants usually nest in the soil and may enter homes in search of food
- They are also found beneath logs, rocks and rotting wood
- They establish trails from the nest to sources of food and water
- Several other species of the big-headed ant are known to make ‘supercolonies’ – nests that are massive and have hundreds of sub colonies
- Their colonies are easy to spot as there will be a lot of displaced sand around it
- These ants are omnivores that will eat almost everything – from dead insects to garbage
- They are especially partial to sweet honeydew produced by aphids
- A sure sign that you have a big headed ant infestation is the presence of dirt piles around the house – these are due to the ants foraging for food
- The major worker ants have an oblong, abnormally large head while the other workers have a smaller head
- These ants often gather in the kitchen, as they are attracted to food high in sugar and protein
- Big-headed ants are often seen crawling up along the sides of walls
- They are commonly found near patios, as there is loose soil there
- They do not have a painful bite and are generally non-aggressive