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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

UNL Extension in Lancaster County

Insects, Spiders, Mice & More

Big-headed Ant Identification

Resources to help you identify big-headed ants found in Nebraska.

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Big-headed Ant

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Big-headed Ant Identification (Two Node Ant)


Big-Headed Ant (Pheidole spp.)

Big-head anted major worker

Colonies have major and minor workers

Big-headed ant minor worker
Big-headed ant major and minor workers

Pheidole spp.

Description of Workers: Small workers, around 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch (1.5 to 3 mm); yellowish or light to dark brown. The workers are different sizes and some have a very large head in proportion to their body.

Habits:

Big-headed ants are most common in warmer areas of the United States, but is also found in Nebraska. This ant primarily lives outdoors and only occasionally invades structures.

Colonies have multiple queens and can be very large. Nesting is usually in the soil in protected locations like under rocks, logs, firewood, patio blocks, landscape timbers and more. The ants will also nest in open areas. Big-headed ants will construct mud tubes on foundations, similar to termite tunnels.

Management:

Management includes locating and appropriately treating colonies. Treating using outdoor granular baits may be used, but may not be effective when large colonies are present.



The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office

Credits:

  • Ant illustrations were developed by Vicki Jedlicka, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County
  • Photo Courtesy of Harvard University. Photographer: Gary D Alpert

For information on reproducing this resource or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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