Abstract To understand the complex relationships that exist between ant assemblages and their habitats, we performed a self-organizing map (SOM) analysis to clarify the interactions among ant diversity, spatial distribution, and land use types in Fukuoka City, Japan. A total of 52 species from 12 study sites with nine land use types were collected from 1998 to 2012. A SOM was used to classify the collected data into three clusters based on the similarities between the ant communities. Consequently, each cluster reflected both the species composition and habitat characteristics in the study area. A detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) corroborated these findings, but removal of unique and duplicate species from the dataset in order to avoid sampling errors had a marked effect on the results; specifically, the clusters produced by DCA before and after the exclusion of specific data points were very different, while the clusters produced by the SOM were consistent. In addition, while the indicator value associated with SOMs clearly illustrated the importance of individual species in each cluster, the DCA scatterplot generated for species was not clear. The results suggested that SOM analysis was better suited for understanding the relationships between ant communities and species and habitat characteristics.