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11 Different Types of Bugs that Look Like Ants

Photo collage of different types of ants.

Have you ever seen a 6-legged bug crawling around your house and wondered if it was an ant? Well, you’re not alone. Many people mistake these insects for ants when in reality, they are something else entirely.

It can be hard to tell the difference with the naked eye. However, there are some easy ways to tell if that 6-legged creature is an ant or not. Ants have a narrow waist, while these other insects do not.

Additionally, ants have elbowed antennae, while the imposters have straight ones. If you’re still unsure, the best way to know for sure is to grab a magnifying glass and have a closer look. Once you can see the creature’s features more clearly, it will be easy to tell if it’s an ant or not.

Now that you know how to tell the difference, you can rest assured that those pesky little insects in your home are not ants!

Characteristics of Ants

Before we dive into the different bugs that aren’t ants, we should do a brief overview of what an ant is so you can best tell the difference! Ants are small insects that are part of the Formicidae family. There are more than 12,000 different species of ants, and they can be found in nearly every country in the world.

Ants vary in size depending on the specific species, but they are generally between 2 and 20 millimeters in length. They have a segmented body with a narrow waist, and their hind legs are longer than their front legs. Additionally, ants have two antennae on their head that are elbowed, meaning they have a sharp bend in the middle.

Their eyes are small and compound, and they have six legs total. Ants live in a variety of different environments, from tropical rainforests to cold, dry deserts. They can be found in forests, meadows, prairies, lawns, and even in the cracks of sidewalks.

In general, they live in colonies that can vary in size from just a few ants to millions of ants. Ants are omnivorous creatures, and they eat a variety of different things. Their diet depends on the species of ant, the age of the ant, and the environment where they live.

Some ants eat insects, while others eat plants. Some ants eat both insects and plants. Some ants even eat other ants!

Ants typically scavenge for food, meaning they will go to wherever they can find the best food sources. They often raid other animals’ nests or look for food in garbage cans or compost piles. The life expectancy of an ant varies depending on the species, but most ants live between one and three years.

There are a few different behaviors that are characteristic of ants. One is their ability to swarm. This means that a large group of ants will come together to attack another animal or invade its nest.

Another behavior that is characteristic of ants is their ability to build nests. Some species of ants build their nests underground, while others build them in trees. Some ants also have the ability to fly.

This is most common in male ants and young ants, as they are looking for new places to start colonies. Some of the most notable features of ants include:

  • Their segmented body
  • Their narrow waist
  • Their two elbowed antennae
  • Their small, compound eyes
  • Their six legs

Different Bugs That Look Like Ants

Now that we know a little bit more about ants let’s take a look at some of the different bugs that resemble them!

1. Springtails

Springtail on a leaf, close-up shot.

Springtails are small, wingless insects that get their name from the ability to jump using a tail-like appendage. They are often mistaken for ants, but they are actually not related to ants at all. Springtails are often found near sources of water and in damp, humid areas.

They generally grow to be about 2-3 mm in length and can be in various colors, including white, black, brown, and red. Springtails are harmless to humans and do not bite or sting. In general, springtails live off of decaying plant matter and other organic material.

They play an important role in the decomposition process. Some species of springtails are also known to eat live plants. The lifespan of a springtail can vary depending on the species, but they generally only live for a few months.

Springtails are interesting creatures that exhibit a variety of behaviors. Some species are known to “bounce” or jump when disturbed. Others are known to roll into a tight ball when threatened.

While they may look similar, springtails differ from ants in a few key ways. For one, ants have a narrow waist, while springtails do not. Springtails also have six legs, while ants have eight.

Finally, ants can bite and sting, while springtails cannot.

2. Earwigs

A Earwig sits on the grass.

Earwigs are long, slender insects that get their name from the cerci, or pincers, on their abdomen. These pincers are used for both defense and offense. There are about 22,000 species of earwigs worldwide, though only a few hundred of those species exist in North America.

Earwigs are nocturnal creatures that spend their days hiding in dark, moist places. Outdoors, they can often be found beneath stones, in mulch, or in rotted wood. Earwigs are omnivorous, meaning they will eat both plants and other animals.

Some of their favorite foods include leaves, flowers, fruit, and small insects. The lifespan of an earwig depends on the species, but most only live for one year. Earwigs are relatively harmless to humans.

They do not bite or sting, and while their pincers can give a painful pinch, they are not strong enough to break human skin.

3. Woodlice

Woodlice on rotten log.

Woodlice, also known as pill bugs or sow bugs, are small insects that resemble miniature crabs. They have hard exoskeletons and seven pairs of legs. Woodlice are often found in damp, dark places such as underneath rocks or logs.

These insects are harmless to humans and actually help decompose leaves and other dead plant matter. Woodlice eat a variety of things, including leaves, dead insects, and other decaying matter. Some species of woodlice are also known to eat live plants.

The lifespan of a woodlouse depends on the species, but most only live for one to two years. Woodlice are interesting creatures that exhibit a variety of behaviors. Some species are known to roll into a tight ball when threatened.

Others can play dead when disturbed. Even though they have a distinct shape, they can be mistaken for ants at a glance due to their coloring and the places people find them. If you take a closer look, however, it’s easy to see that woodlice are not ants.

They don’t have the narrow waist and long antennae that ants do.

4. Termites

Termites colony nesting in the timber.

Termites are tiny, winged bugs that live in colonies that can range in size from a few hundred to huge societies with millions of members. Termite colonies are found in moist soils, and the insects build their nests by excavating tunnels in wood or other organic materials. There are around 2,000 species of termite, with a higher diversity in the tropics, though only a few hundred species live in America.

Termites are small insects, typically measuring between 4 and 15 mm (0.16 and 0.59 in) in length. Workers are palecream to yellowish brown in color, while soldiers have dark brown or black head capsules. The lifespan of a termite depends on the species, but most only live for one to two years.

The castes within a termite colony include reproductive, soldiers, and workers. The reproductives are responsible for creating new termites, the soldiers protect the colony, and the workers build the nest and care for the young. Termites are important decomposers of dead plant material, and they help to recycle nutrients back into the soil.

However, these insects can also cause significant damage to wooden structures.

5. Cockroaches

Two cockroaches on a wooden table.

Cockroaches live in a wide variety of habitats around the world. The tropical cockroach Periplaneta Americana, which is about 30 mm (1.2 in) long, lives in human homes and is often considered a pest, while the wood cockroach Panesthia angustipennis, which is less than 6 mm (0.24 in) long, avoids humans. Cockroaches are generally seen as dirty pests, though the great majority of species are inoffensive and live in a wide spectrum of habitats around the globe.

Small roaches can be mistaken for ants because they have a similar body shape. Both cockroaches and ants have furrowed exoskeletons that help them move quickly and easily, as well as long antennae. However, there are some key differences between the two insects.

Ants have elbowed antennae, while cockroaches have straight ones. Additionally, ants typically have a narrow “waist” between their thorax and abdomen, while cockroaches do not. Cockroaches are one of the most normal household pests, and they can be very difficult to get rid of once they infest a home.

These insects are attracted to food and moisture, so they are often found in kitchens and bathrooms. Cockroaches can spread diseases, so it is important to eliminate them from your home as soon as possible.

6. Stone Flies

Stone Flies sniffing on a branch of tree.

Stone flies are next on our list. These insects are found all over the world, and they live in a variety of habitats, including rivers, streams, and lakes. Stone flies are water-dwelling insects, and they have specialized mouthparts that allow them to filter food out of the water.

Despite their name, stone flies are not actually attracted to stones. These insects get their name from their habit of laying their eggs on rocks near water sources. When the eggs hatch, the larvae fall into the water, where they live for several months before emerging as adults.

These small insects are found near freshwater streams and rivers, where they lay their eggs. The stone fly nymphs live in the water and feed on smaller aquatic creatures. They generally eat smaller insects, but the adults are also known to eat spiders, mites, and other small arthropods.

Stone flies are not considered pests, and they are actually quite beneficial to have around. They help to control the populations of smaller insects, and their larvae are a food source for fish. However, if you find them in your house, they can be a nuisance.

Stone flies are not harmful to humans and are actually quite beautiful, with their large compound eyes and delicate wings. Some species of stone fly can grow up to 2 inches long!

7. Sucking Lice

Sucking Lice on a white paper background.

The sucking louse is a small, wingless insect that sucks the blood of mammals. These insects are parasites, and they live off of the blood of their host. Sucking lice are found all over the world, and they are particularly common in areas with high population densities.

There are three main types of sucking lice: head lice, body lice, and pubic lice. Head lice are the most common type of louse, and they live in the hair on the head. Body lice are found in clothing and often infest people who live in crowded or unsanitary conditions.

Pubic lice are found in the pubic hair of humans. Sucking lice are small insects, and they range in size from 2 to 3 mm. These insects have a hard exoskeleton, and they are covered in tiny hairs.

Sucking lice are brown or black in color, and their bodies are flattened. Sucking lice feed on blood, and they bite their host to obtain it. These bites can cause irritation and itchiness. Sucking lice are capable of spreading diseases, such as typhus and relapsing fever.

Sucking lice are a nuisance, and they can be difficult to get rid of once they infest an area. The best way to prevent an infestation is to practice good hygiene and avoid sharing personal items with others. When they are small, sucking lice can be mistaken for ants due to their size and coloring.

8. Spiders

A close-up of Spider resting on its cob web.

While technically arachnids, small, black spiders can look like ants at a glance. These eight-legged creatures are found all over the world, and they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Spiders are predators, and they use their venomous fangs to kill their prey.

There are more than 35,000 species of spiders, and they range in size from less than a millimeter to over 30 centimeters. Spiders can be black, brown, red, or green in color, and their bodies are covered in tiny hairs. Most spiders are harmless to humans, but there are a few species that can cause serious health problems.

These include the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider. Spiders are generally considered pests, and they can be quite dangerous in large numbers. If you find spiders in your home, it is best to contact a professional pest control company to remove them.

While most spiders are not harmful to humans, their bites can cause irritation and swelling. If you are bitten by a spider, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

9. Millipedes

Group of Millipedes exposed from their burrows.

Millipedes are small, elongated creatures that have two pairs of legs on each body segment. These creatures are found in damp environments all over the world, and they feed on decaying plant matter. These creatures emit a foul-smelling liquid when they feel threatened, and this can be quite unpleasant.

Millipedes are generally brown or black in color, and they range in size from 2 to 4 cm. These creatures have a hard exoskeleton, and their bodies are segmented. A small millipede can look like an ant at first glance.

Millipedes are not harmful to humans; their foul-smelling liquid can cause irritation if it comes into contact with your skin. Additionally, their excrement can be quite damaging to plants. These creatures are often considered pests, and they can be difficult to control once they infest an area.

If you find millipedes in your home, the best course of action is to vacuum them up and dispose of them. You can also contact a professional pest control company to remove them.

10. Centipedes

Centipedes actively climb on the branches.

Finally, centipedes look like ants for many of the same reasons millipedes do. They’re small, elongated creatures that have a lot of legs — usually one pair per body segment. They’re found in damp environments all over the world and often enter homes in search of food.

Centipedes are generally brown or black and range in size from 2 to 4 cm. Like millipedes, they have a hard exoskeleton and their bodies are segmented. They also have a pair of long, venomous claws that they use to kill their prey.

While centipedes are not harmful to humans, their bites can be quite painful. Additionally, their excrement can be damaging to plants. These creatures are often considered pests, and they can be difficult to control once they infest an area.

If you find centipedes in your home, the best course of action is to vacuum them up and dispose of them. You can also contact a professional pest control company to remove them.

11. Fleas

A male flea on a white background.

Fleas are small, wingless insects that feed on the blood of mammals and birds. These creatures are found all over the world, and they can be quite a nuisance. Fleas are brown or black in color, and they have a hard exoskeleton.

Fleas are parasites, and they rely on their host for food. They can cause serious health problems for both humans and animals, and they can be difficult to get rid of once they infest an area. If you find fleas in your home, the best course of action is to contact a professional pest control company to remove them.

Additionally, it is important to treat your pets for fleas to prevent them from becoming re-infested.