Larger Yellow Ant


Actual Size: 4 to 4.5 mm

Characteristics: Reddish-yellow to reddish-brown


  • Also known as the citronella ant.
  • Workers emit a distinct lemon-like odor when alarmed or crushed.
  • Homeowners often mistake larger yellow ants for termites.


The larger yellow ant is common in the eastern and central United States. When disturbed, larger yellow ants release a compound that smells like citronella or lemon. Larger yellow ants are primarily nocturnal and are not generally seen during the day. These ants feed exclusively on the honeydew produced by aphids and mealybugs, with no record of them feeding on household foods. When these ants swarm, they can be mistaken for termites.

Larger Yellow Ant Habitat

Larger yellow ants nests are typically located in and around areas of high moisture. In homes, these ants are sometimes found behind bathtub or shower walls or in damp crawl spaces. Outdoors, they can be found nesting in high moisture soil adjacent to structures, along foundation walls, under stumps, logs, or rocks. Mounds of dirt left behind by the colonies’ process of excavating tunnels can reach up to three feet in diameter.

Larger Yellow Ant Behaviors, Threats or Dangers

Larger yellow ants do not have a stinger, but can become a nuisance when the alates (winged ants) swarm indoors, or as workers dump soil from cracks in floors or basement walls. When swarming, homeowners often mistake these ants for termites or carpenter ants. Overwintering alates emerge from cracks and crevices in walls and floors from mid to late summer. As larger yellow ant alates swarm, homeowners may be alarmed by the large numbers of swarming ants that congregate on the side of homes and structures.

Larger Yellow Ant Prevention

Larger yellow ants travel from soil outdoors through openings in foundations and slabs. If these ants are found inside a structure, there is likely a moisture problem along with decaying wood. To prevent an infestation, actions should be taken to seal and block entry points around the home. Seal gaps around dryer vents, window sills, garage vents, and weatherproof exterior doors. Locate and seal all cracks and crevices in high moisture areas like bathrooms and kitchens, especially near plumbing fixtures. If larger yellow ants are found indoors, homeowners can get rid of them using a vacuum cleaner.