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How to Manage Pests

Key to Identifying Common Household Ants

Biology and life cycle—Workers

Red imported fire ant worker

Characteristics and duties of workers

  • Sterile females
  • Most numerous caste
  • Some species such as carpenter ants and fire ants are polymorphic, having several sizes of workers; the larger workers, or major workers, have different job duties than the smaller ones, or minor workers.
  • Ants such as the Argentine ants only have one size of worker and divide job duties by age; older workers gather food and younger workers relay and store food, build tunnels, defend the colony; and feed, groom, transport, and protect larvae.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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