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It’s week four in our Ant Month series, and after spotlighting Argentine ants, fire ants, and odorous house ants, it’s time to take a look at another common ant in the United States: the pavement ant. Learn how to identify and get rid of this aptly named ant.
COMMON NAME: Pavement ant, sugar ant
LATIN NAME: Tetramorium caespitum
ORIGIN: Europe, most likely stowed away in the ballast soil of 1700s cargo ships headed to the eastern United States.
- Pavement ants nest near or beneath sidewalks, patios, driveways, and even structural foundations.
- They can be found in a variety of places, from urban sidewalks to rural pathways.
- These ants have a notable sweet tooth but will eat a variety of food sources.
PAVEMENT ANT APPEARANCE
- Pavement ants are dark brown to black in color and are just under ¼ inch in length.
- They have small, rigid hairs along their bodies.
- Pavement ants’ long, segmented antennae have an elbow-like joint near the center and a small, three-segmented club at the tip.
- Their petiole, or waist, has two distinct nodes.
PAVEMENT ANT DIET
- Pavement ants eat sweets, fruit, honeydew, and greasy foods.
- These ants will also eat other insects.
PAVEMENT ANT HABITATS
Pavement ants (as the common name implies) are most often found nesting underneath paved materials. A colony of pavement ants can take up residence in the soil underneath sidewalk panels, rocks, pavers, walkways, patios, and porches. Pavement ants prefer to nest in areas with less foliage such as under large rocks or a patio near a garden. Their nests can exceed 10,000 ants, and adjacent pavement ant colonies can even fight each other for territory.
Dirt and soil are a pavement ant’s preferred location, but indoor nests are still quite common. The primary reason pavement ant nests wind up inside is due to the ideal conditions that our homes provide. Pavement ants love warmth and moisture, and they can travel along pipes or wires, especially during colder months, to find shelter close to a food source. Warmer locations, such as near heaters or appliances, are especially appealing to pavement ants on colder days.
PAVEMENT ANT RISKS AND HAZARDS
Much like the Argentine ant, pavement ants protect plant-destroying insects from natural predators in order to preserve their favorite treat: honeydew. A colony of pavement ants may not destroy your leaves directly, but their pursuit of sweets may let a population of honeydew-producing aphids and soft-scale insects do their worst with your plants. To further injure your yard, pavement ant nests can displace soil during the building or expanding process and damage root systems of nearby plants.
Any ant with an undiscerning diet poses a contamination risk, and the pavement ant is no exception. Because these ants forage amid trash and consume both old, rotten food and other insects, they can track harmful pathogens and contaminants.
GETTING RID OF PAVEMENT ANTS
- Since pavement ants don’t usually nest indoors, when seen inside they’re most likely foraging for scraps or cast-off crumbs and then heading back outdoors to bring food back to the colony. Cut off their food supply by swiftly cleaning up drops and spills. Ditch cardboard or paper storage containers for airtight lidded containers to keep pesky ants away from stored foods.
- After cutting off pavement ants’ food source, take note of possible pheromone trails guiding workers. Cleaning up these invisible scent pathways will go a long way in deterring pavement ants marching in your space. Pheromone trails can be neutralized by using ammonia-based cleaners such as WindexⓇ.
- Next, seal the entry points that pavement ants are using to get inside. Pavement ants are small, so even a tiny crack, gap, or hole surrounding a window or door can be all the space needed for them to come inside. Sealant or caulk purchased at your local home improvement store can help you close these openings.
PROFESSIONAL PAVEMENT ANT CONTROL
Whether you’ve spotted them on the walkway outside or caught them trailing toward your refrigerator, pavement ants can be downright frustrating. To maximize control efforts, bringing in a pest control expert is your best bet. Not only are pest control professionals able to tackle the ant infestations you have on your hands, they are also trained to prevent future invasions from starting in the first place. A quick call can save a lot of valuable time and energy.
If you’ve caught the signs of an ant infestation and need additional support, our experts are ready to assess your space, discuss solutions with you, and build a custom treatment plan. Contact Joshua’s Pest Control today to get started.