Pavement Ants

The pavement ant is representative of a broad group of ground nesting ants that are found throughout the northern and eastern parts of the United States. Pavement ants live in colonies with a social structure. Homes and buildings with slab-onground type construction are particularly prone in invasion by pavement ants.

What is Their Growth and Development?

photoPavementAntsPavement ants vary in color from red brown to blackish-brown in appearance and are from 1/8. to 1/4. in length. They have four stages of their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Six to eight weeks are required for development. The time varies because of the season of the year, the temperature, and the species. Colonies have three distinct castes: queens, kings, and workers. The only function of the queen and king is to reproduce. All of the workers are sterile females. The workers build the nest, take care of the young, and hunt for and gather food. The workers are the ones that you find invading a home looking for resources.

What Do They Eat?

They will eat almost any kind of food. Sweets, starches, greases, meats, fruits, and vegetables are all acceptable as food. Pavement ants needmoisture and will travel some distance to find a source.

Where Do They Nest?

Pavement ants usually nest outdoors in the ground under sidewalks, driveways, in the cracks of pavement, in lawns, and near the foundation of buildings. Occasionally they will nest in walls, under floors, and in insulation. They enter a home or building through any natural opening or even the smallest crack in the slab or the foundation wall.

Why Do I Have Them Now?

Pavements ants need warmth, moisture, and a food supply for their colony to continue to grow and develop. The workers are sent out like “little trucks” to forage and gather these basic needs. Once they have gained entry into your home they will search for food and moisture. This is especially true during the winter months when cold weather limits their outside activity. When they appear on cold winter days they have probably exhausted their stored food supply in the nest and they are out looking for additional food or moisture. They will appear inside homes and buildings during the summer when the conditions outside are extreme. This might occur after very heavy rain when the ground is saturated or just the opposite, during periods of drought when the ground is dry and they need moisture.

Why Do Some of Them Have Wings?

The winged ants or “swarmers” are the kings and queens. Researchers are not certain of the exact cause for the pavement ants to swarm out but it appears to be related to the size of the nest, the age of the nest, and perhaps the weather conditions. Most swarming occurs between May and July. Once they emerge and complete their mating, the newly fertilized queens look for a suitable spot to start a new colony. Fortunately, most of them are unsuccessful and die off.

How Do You Control Pavements Ants?

The use of baits and/or liquid sprays are currently the most effective methods of control. Baits are very effective and efficient in eliminating a pavement ant infestation provided the ants will accept the bait. Ant baits contain a slow acting poison and are formulated as gels, solids, and liquids. The worker ants are unable to eat solid food so they gather the bait and carry it back to the nest where they feed the immature stage (larva). The larvae process the bait and then through a process known as trophalaxis they regurgitate a liquid to feed the queen and the other workers. The workers get their “reward” so they will continue to go out and bring back more food and do the other work required by the colony. This process spreads the slow acting poison throughout the nest and causes the entire colony to die off. This is a very successful method provided the ants take the bait. Sometimes, and for reasons that are still unknown, pavement ants will not accept certain baits. When this occurs, the choice is to try a different bait material or to use a liquid insecticide.

When using baits, always read and follow the directions on the label of the product you are using. Baits need to be placed in areas inaccessible to young children and pets or in tamper resistant containers such as the Ant Caf. Look for pavement ants moving about, especially the trailing activity. Place small amounts of bait directly in the path the ants are traveling, but do not cover or block their entrance to the colony with the material. They are likely to gather around the bait or immediately pick it up and transport it back to the colony. It is not unusual for many pavement ants to suddenly appear after the bait is placed. This is normal foraging activity so please do not disturb the ants or apply any insecticides to kill them. Let them feed on the bait. Over the next three days inspect the feeding sites and replenish the baits that are consumed. Within a week the pavement ants should be gone. If the foraging activity continues longer than a week you may need to place more baits or consider the use of liquid sprays.

During warmer weather, look for pavement ants outside crawling on the ground close to the foundation. Watch where they go, then place baits on and near their trails.

LIQUID INSECTICIDE TREATMENTS: Liquid spray treatments are effective in killing the ants you see actively foraging around inside or outside of your home. Liquids may also be applied directly to ant mounds found in the lawn and to ant mounds found along foundations and in cracks of sidewalks, patios, and pavement. For general protection, especially when you cannot locate the nest you can apply insecticides where the ants gain entry, where they hide, and where they search for food. Inspect and treat these areas:

  • door thresholds
  • cracks in the foundation wall
  • window sills
  • edge of carpeting
  • pipe holes
  • window frames
  • door frames
  • behind appliances
  • plumbing voids
  • cracks in basement floor
  • under baseboards
  • top of mudsill

Outdoors, treat up under the siding where it meets the foundation, the ground directly against the foundation along the perimeter of the house, and the expansion joint between the foundation and the driveway, sidewalk, or patio. It may take one to three gallons to thoroughly treat the exterior of a typical three or four bedroom home.

Are the Sprays Harmful to My Children or Pets?

photoCarpenterAnts2Research has shown that when the products are used according to the directions on the label and ordinary precautions are taken there are no adverse effects on children, pets, and the people applying the product. Again, always read and follow the directions on the label of the product you are using. It is always best to keep the children and pets away from the treated areas until thoroughly dry. Indoors, allow one to two hours. When treating outdoors please be sure to move toys, pet feeding bowls, grills, patio furniture, etc. away from the foundation before making a treatment.