Invasion of the Pavement Ants
Certainly, ants have no business being inside your house. However, pavement ants have a tendency to invite themselves in. They are a widespread problem across the country. They are stubborn, persistent, and travel in large numbers. While they are harmless insects, an infestation is nonetheless problematic.
Fortunately, this article discusses how to get rid of pavement ants. Pavement ants can swarm an area, and there are pavement ants with wings. Flying ants are certainly not something you want inside your home. The question is: how to get rid of pavement ants in my house?
Meet the Pavement Ant
Pavement ants (Tetramorium caespitum), also known as sugar ants, are called as such because they tend to burrow underneath surfaces like concrete and pavement to build their nests. They’re often seen in sidewalk cracks. Thousands of ants can live inside a nest at any given time. Pavement ants are small, reaching a maximum size of approximately four millimeters in length. Like most ants, they are black or brown with segmented bodies and six legs. They are most active during the spring, but in states with warmer climates, the ants can be spotted throughout the year.
Clearly, pavement ants with wings can be extremely disconcerting. Adult males can have wings during certain stages of the life cycle. They are slightly larger than typical pavement ants and live for around one week. It is most likely that swarms of flying pavement ants with wings will be seen when it’s time to mate with the queens of the colony. While pavement ants have the ability to sting, they rarely go after humans. The sting itself is mild and does not hurt, unlike the painful sting of a fire ant. They’re a nuisance to humans, but not a threat. Rather, they tend to be aggressive with rival ants. Pavement ants fight with other colonies of ants, forage for food, and build new colonies.
Pavement Ants vs. Carpenter Ants
Let’s compare pavement ants vs. carpenter ants. Carpenter ants are much larger than pavement ants and have heart-shaped heads. Because carpenter ants also do a lot more damage to a house than pavement ants, a carpenter ant infestation is a more serious problem. Pavement ants do not cause any structural damage to a house; they get into food and gather where they’re not wanted, but they are much easier to deal with. Pavement ants spoil food, while carpenter ants chew through wood. Additionally, a major difference between carpenter ants and pavement ants is that the natural habitat of the pavement ant is outside, and pavement ants, therefore, have difficulty colonizing indoors.
On the other hand, carpenter is adaptable and can live indoors. Carpenter ants usually have several nests, and build nests inside the houses that they invade. Carpenter ants leave visible evidence of their activity. Like termites, carpenter ants leave piles of dust in their wake after they chew through wood. Carpenter ants hollow out wooden structures over time, including walls, beams and other structural components.
Inside the House
Why are you seeing pavement ants inside your house? Because the ants are drawn to food and water. The most powerful attractant is food. If you have a tendency to leave food out on the counter, it attracts the constantly-foraging ants. Pavement ants quickly send pheromones (chemical signals) to the rest of the colony, alerting them to the food source. All it takes is an open door, torn screen, crack in the wall or other tiny openings for the pavement ants to enter your home en masse. In fact, pavement ants can climb up 30-foot tall brick walls to get to a target.
Once they’re in, the ants not only target the food source but also explore the rest of the house to find more. While pavement ants do eat other insects, they also consume “people food’ such as:
- Ice cream
- Sweets, etc.
The ants are able to chew through thin paper and plastic, contaminating the food and rendering it unfit for consumption.
Before you know it, you can be seeing pavement ants in every room of your house. Pavement ants, in turn, can attract other predatory pests, such as centipedes, spiders and parasitic smaller ants. Creepy, annoying and persistent, it’s important to know how to get rid of pavement ants to eradicate the problem.
How to Get Rid of Pavement Ants in My House: Cleaning
One way how to get rid of pavement ants in your house is to clean the area, including removing food from the counter. The following steps should also be taken:
- Seal and store food properly
- Use sealed plastic containers whenever possible
- Do not store food on the floor
- Keep the counters clean and free of crumbs and spills
- Sweep and vacuum the floor regularly
- Do not leave bowls of dog or cat food on the floor for extended periods of time
- Keep your floors dry (the ants are drawn to moisture)
- Seal up any cracks in the walls or along the floor with caulk or a similar material.
Often, you can spot a trail of ants that will lead you to the entry point. Make sure to seal off this area carefully. Proper cleaning and the removal of clutter are important ways to reduce current and future pavement ant infestations. Once the ants’ food source has been eliminated, the ants no longer have a target. However, if there is a colony somewhere inside the house, the colony still needs to be eliminated to eradicate the infestation.
How to Get Rid of Pavement Ants: The Colony
If pavement ants have built a colony, or nest, somewhere in your house, then the colony needs to be destroyed to eliminate the infestation. It can be difficult to locate the colony, and you may want to hire a professional pest control expert in order to find where the ants are nesting.
Colonies are found inside and outside. That said, it is much more common for colonies to be found outside in places like under the patio, under the driveway, in cracks in the sidewalk, in mulch piles, stacks of wood, and similar spaces. The colonies can be hard to find, as the telltale mound of dirt is not always present. A typical outdoor colony contains anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 worker ants as well as several queens. The queens are significantly larger than the other ants.
Inside the house, the ants can nest in false ceilings, under toilets, and near water heaters. As previously mentioned, it is extremely rare that pavement ants will build their colonies inside a house, as they prefer to live outside.
Pest Control Experts
Because pavement ants are so difficult to get rid of, it is often necessary to hire a pest control expert to get the situation under control. In fact, even if you thoroughly clean and sanitize your house and remove all food that is out in the open, the infestation may persist. The ants will continue entering the house through any available openings or cracks in your house. They can be difficult to track down because they are most active at night.
Importantly, pest control experts have certain techniques for tracking down the ants’ entry points. This involves the strategic placement of bait. When all other food has been eliminated, the ants will feed on the bait. This allows the trail to the entry point to be identified and repaired.
Next, pavement ant colonies need to be treated with chemical insecticides. There are sprays, foggers, and dusters, among other varieties. Typically, large quantities of chemicals need to be used due to the number of ants found in a typical infestation. Also, non-repellant sprays are often utilized. A spray that is a non-repellent is effective because it does not cause an insect to try to flee as it is undetectable. The spray instantly kills the ants.
Occasionally, an area will need to be vacated immediately following the application of an insecticide. Insecticides can be harmful if misused, which is why many homeowners choose to hire professional pest control experts to destroy and remove the colonies, eradicate the infestation, and take measures to ensure that no subsequent pavement ant infestations occur. This typically involves additional spraying of insecticides and the strategic placement of bait traps.
Conclusion: A Big Nuisance
Pavement ants are annoying, creepy, and problematic. While a pavement ant infestation is not dangerous like dealing with brown recluse spiders or wasps, it’s unpleasant and unacceptable. Seeing a swarm of flying ants is downright terrifying. Finding a collection of ants in your box of cereal is stomach-churning.
While cleaning and decluttering your home can help control a pavement ant infestation, it does not entirely eliminate it if the colony is not destroyed. This often involves the use of chemical insecticides, which are best administered by a pest control expert. An expert will not only eliminate the colony and destroy the current infestation, but they will also take preventative measures to ensure that the ants do not come back. A pavement ant-free home is possible, with a little work and a skilled expert.