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April Fools Gag or the Real (BIG) Deal. The Big-Headed Ant!

It is real but not a BIG Deal. Pheidole dentata are members of a group of ants called big-headed ants. Big-headed ants get their name from their dimorphic worker caste. That means they have two types of workers: small, regular-looking workers called minors and larger soldiers with whopping big heads called majors. Majors and minors are all sisters, and they’re all adults. Majors get their big heads because they were fed special food at just the right time when they were larvae.

Your sister has a Big Head: Having big-headed sisters comes in handy when these ants are scavenging a meal or defending their nests. Majors’ big heads are packed with muscle, not brain, and these ants lend their extra brawn to help defend and carry food that is too big for minors and, in this species, to chomp down on intruders unlucky enough to stumble across their nest entrances.

Nest Site/Characteristics: Most form small colonies (a few hundred ants), but colonies of some species contain thousands of ants and multiple queens. Big-headed ants enter buildings occasionally, preferring to nest in protected soil i.e. under stones, leaf litter, mulch, patio blocks, slabs, firewood and landscape timbers. Some nest in open areas where they make small mounds or in crawl spaces in termite damaged wood.

Big-headed ants trail readily, but usually not far from their nest. Their foraging trails are sometimes covered with soil, resembling subterranean termite foraging tubes.

Feeding Preferences: Big-headed ants prefer seeds and insects but will occasionally feed on honeydew from sap sucking insects. Inside, they forage for meats, crease, liver, molasses, peanut butter, pet foods and fruit juices, preferring high protein foods.

  • Major workers’ heads very large in proportion to body

  • Light to dark reddish brown

  • Two nodes

  • Uneven thorax

  • 12 segmented antennae; 3-segmented club

  • One pair of spines on thorax

  • Workers (female) 1/16-1/8 inches long; all species have 2 different sized workers

If you have any questions do not hesitate to call First Response Pest Control at 214-864-0669 / Proudly Serving Highland Village, Flower Mound, Coppell, Lewisville, Corinth, Lantana, Lake Dallas, Denton and surrounding areas.

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