The Difference Between Red Ants & Black Ants

There are more than 1,400 ant species recorded. While some ant species come in different colours like green, silvery, yellow, brown etc., the majority are either black or red.

This guide is meant to help us explore some of the differences between red ants and black ants as well as their similarities.

Climate Preferences

Red ants (also known as fire ants) prefer living in open and sunny environments like in the fields. They also love moist places such as riverbanks and ponds where they build their nests in the form of chambers and tunnels underground.

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On the other hand, black ants are highly adaptable. They love indoor environments hence they are very common in homes. They mostly build their nests in dark places such as beneath the rocks, cement cracks, wall voids, under carpeting and baseboards. Other areas include decomposing trees, rotting logs and gardens.

Physical appearance

Red ants are dark reddish brown in colour with a segmented oval shape. They can grow to 1/8 to 3/8 mm in size.

Black ants range from red to black in colour with the body size of 5/8 mm in size and are oval in shape.

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Danger & Threat

Though not a risk to your home, red ants are very aggressive and can be quite dangerous. When provoked, they do not retreat but will fight back. Their bites contain toxins that can cause intense burning and pain in their prey. That’s why they are able to kill other insects and small animals like frogs, rats and birds for food.

Black ants are neither aggressive nor dangerous. Although they bite when provoked, their toxic acid does not hurt as that of the red ants. They are therefore not much of a threat but nuisance when they infest your home.

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Common characteristics


Black and red ants both have three body regions i.e. head, thorax and abdomen, which are joined by various segments called “nodes”. They both have six legs and are guarded by a strong exoskeleton.

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Black and red ants are both omnivorous as they eat plants, sweets, honeydew, nectar from plants, dead animals and insects.

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Over to you…

Which ant are you more familiar with? Which of these ants are sighted in your house or outside in your backyard? Leave a comment to share with us.