Ant Identification Resources (North America)

I’d like to get to know ant subfamilies/tribes/genera better. I’ve tabulated a few notes here and there (mainly California/SF Bay area centric), but would like a broader and better understanding of ant identification (which, in my opinion, includes behavior and relevant habitat information, too).

What are your favorite resources to help identify ants? It could be books, website, YouTube videos, etc. Ideally, such resources would be specific to North America. But if not specific, at least relevant to North America.



Here are some of the field guides I know of:
-A Field Guide to the Ants of New England (species level, ideal for eastern US and Canada)
-Ants of North America (genus level)
-Carpenter Ants of the United States and Canada
-Ants of North America (website at Discover Life, if you have the genus this could take you to species)

If you are serious about ant id, get a camera with a great macro (I have the Olympus TG6), take shots of side and face. You may have to refrigerate some ants to get proper shots. Personally I have just got started with ants with the New England book.


Thanks - yes, I’m pretty set on the camera side. Just looking for some good resources on field marks, behaviors, and habitats. Of the field guide list (looks similar to what I found searching), do you own all of them, or just the New England one?

I have just the New England one. I use iNaturalist’s AI to get me to genus and that book to confirm identification. It is tricky to get all the key angles in sufficient resolution. I have only begun with that book, and only identified two ants with it, having only just got it over just a month ago. is another resource. Bugguide usually has a better curated selection of representative images than iNaturalist. A quick look at the book resources on that website for ants led me to “A synoptic review of the ants of California”. Very technical, but you may find it useful.


Thank you! That last resource looks great (based on a quick skim). Not sure why I didn’t think to dive into bugguide resource lists.

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