Ants as a group are beneficial to humans. Their tunneling mixes and aerates the soil, in some places replacing the activity of earthworms. Many species feed on small insects that are serious crop pests. House pests among the North American ants include the yellowish pharaoh ant, the little black ant, the odorous house ant, the Argentine ant of warm climates, and the black carpenter ant. Carpenter ants tunnel in wood but do not feed on it. The fire ant, which has a painful bite, is a serious pest to humans and livestock in many parts of the South.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.