It is easy to spot an ant invasion in your home; they will mostly manifest as a group of small insects marching in a single file looking for sources of sustenance such as food crumbs or water. What’s harder for most people to do is figure out which ant species they are dealing with.

There are more than 16,000 ant species in the world, and more are discovered each year so one can expect this number to go up. Fortunately, any single region is the United States is likely to have only a few hundred species, making identification easier.

To figure out which ant species you have, a possible first step is to find out the prevalent ant species in your locality. This is information that is easy to find both online and from pest control specialists. Some ants have characteristic traits which makes them easy to identify.

An example is the odorous house ants, which are extremely common and produce a strange smell when crushed. Some people link the smell to blue cheese or rotten coconut. Other easy to identify yet hard to spot ants are the ghost ants, which have pale legs and abdomens, which is what makes them difficult to see. Fire ants are also easy to identify, with small red bodies and extremely painful bites.

For the thousands of other ant species out there, you can always rely on online ant databases which have pictures and descriptions of most ant species. You can compare these with the ants in your house to know which types of ants you are dealing with.