Pavement Ants: Pavement Ant Facts, Identification and Control

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Pavement Ants are known as Tetramorium caespitum in the scientific community. Pavement Ants tend to be more prevalent in environments closer to nature but, in the case of indoor pests, these are surprisingly quite a common issue. These specific types of ants are one of the most common species of ants, particularly in residential areas. The ants first found their origin in Europe and have been an issue in the United States for a few centuries. The ants have now spread across all 50 states. The Pavement Ants use their small bodies to their advantage by moving easily through the tough cracks found in house foundations. Moreover, their speed and small size enables them to create nests and search through pantries for food.

While Pavement Ants and other similar ants like Carpenter Ants cannot be considered a direct threat to your health, colonies of Pavement Ants have the ability to contaminate your dining areas and food by leaving bits of dirt behind and ant control may be needed. Moreover, the bacteria left behind on these surfaces can lead to different hygiene and health issues. If you are looking to get rid of worker Pavement Ants from your home through Pavement Ant control, read on.

Appearance

Like with flea control and other bug control, Pavement Ants are easier to control once you have identified them. Following are the major characteristics of a Pavement Ant:

  • The worker form of Pavement Ant is around three to four millimeters in size or around an eighth of an inch in terms of length
  • Pavement Ants lose their wings once fully grown and tend to be either black or dark brown in color
  • The ants consist of rows of parallel grooves in across the length of their bodies around the thorax and the head. The grooves or furrows create a ridged appearance which helps in differentiating them from any other species of ants
  • A pair of spines can be found on the back of their thorax. It is positioned at an angle in an upward direction towards two nodes. These two nodes help create the petiole or the waist of a pavement ant
  • Pavement Ants consist of a stinger at the posterior segment of the body. However, this is not an alarming characteristic for humans as the stinging apparatus is quite small in size and too weak to have any impact on the human body

Habitat

Pavement Ants have been named so due to their tendency to create nests under the pavement of sidewalks and driveways in the soil. Moreover, these ants tend to create colonies under building foundations and patios constructed of slabs of concrete. These insects tend to take advantage of the concrete cracks to enter the structures/homes with ease. Pavement Ants establish their nests in walls and different insulation found underneath the house floors.

Outside your house, you can find pavement ants under leaves, mulch, wood, rocks, and other debris. Although these ants tend to gain activity at night, the foraging ones can sometimes emerge during daytime hours in the summer or spring seasons due to the warmer temperature. A single Pavement Ant colony can consist of more than 10,000 members.

  • Fun fact: Ant colonies can actually have huge battles between their neighbor colonies during the spring season. This situation ends up leaving hundreds of ants dead on the sidewalk (battlefield).

Diet

Pavement Ants have the ability to consume an array of different food sources. These ants are actually known for their ability to eat virtually anything possible. These species essentially feed on subterranean termites along with other kinds of soil-dwelling insects, seeds and nuts, meats, honey, sugar, sweets, and bread. They travel up to 30 feet from their nest in search of food. A chemical trail is left behind during this travel which is picked by other members of the same colony to lead them to the source.

Reproduction

Pavement Ants reproduce in a unique manner with the production of winged males along with females that come out in the spring season to mate. The female winged ants are termed as “swarmers” and these are exclusively responsible for the creation of new colonies and reproduction. After the process of mating, these female ants look for an appropriate environment to lay the eggs and create a colony. The queen typically makes use of sand that is protected by rocks, concrete, or pavement to keep the eggs safe. The ants generally take up to two to three months to fully develop.

The process of reproductive swarming generally takes place in spring, but colonies are living in warm indoor spaces with the ability and environment to reproduce any time of the year. One adult Pavement Ant has the average life expectancy of several years. This basically means that without having proper control measures, you shouldn’t expect these pesky little creatures to simply die out.

Problems Caused

While you don’t have to worry about any structural damage at the hands of Pavement Ants or any major health related issues, there are certain visible issues you are bound to experience. Following are the different ways in which these insects can become a nuisance to any household:

  • You can expect any kind of food item to be contaminated by these insects due to their willingness to consume any edible. If you have Pavement Ants roaming around, you simply cannot expect any food item to be germ-free.
  • The Pavement Ants create further contamination of the house by leaving chemical trails.
  • With the passage of years, the indoor Pavement Ants can produce ants with wings as well that can simply swarm by different light sources or windows in the house. Not only is this an unpleasant sight but this essentially means that the colonies are spreading out to different structures around the house.
  • The Pavement Ants move in trails while searching for food and this is not only an embarrassment for the residents but also a dangerous environment for young children and babies.

Signs of Infestation

For starters, if the infestation has been established for quite a while, you will be able to identify the foraging works and other reproductive swarmers around. This indication is to be taken very seriously during the colder months. If you see a Pavement Ant flying around, do not take it lightly as this is a clear indication of a colony existing within your house. Moreover, you can keep an eye out for soil particles that are generally in the form of small piles. These indicate the establishment of a colony because the pavement ants tend to push the debris and dirt out during the construction or expansion of the colonies. You can find these piles straddling a crack in the foundation, driveway, sidewalk, or the floor.

Identification

In order to fully identify Pavement Ants correctly, you can collect a few of the specimens in vials or on scotch tape and send them to any local university for identification. You can send the dead specimens to a nearby extension office in an envelope as well. You can find the foraging ants on the floor or along the edges of your house walls and near door frames. During warmer seasons, the female and male ants with wings can swarm inside and you are most likely to find them near windows as they use sunlight for direction.

Prevention

Before control comes prevention. You will never need special measures or professional help as long as you’re able to prevent these irritating creatures through simple preventive steps. Take the following preventive measures:

  • As the Pavement Ants reside underneath the foundation of your house, you need to ensure that all the small openings and external cracks are sealed tightly
  • Keep the nesting sites away from your house such as piles of wood and leaves
  • Make sure to keep your kitchen areas squeaky clean without the presence of any grease, standing water, or crumbs
  • Use sealed canisters for storing food items and make sure to rinse out the beverage containers and food packages before throwing them away
  • Take your trash regularly
  • Apart from the typical locations, you can find the Pavement Ants in basements, inside walls, living rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms along with heating and air conditioning units. Make sure to keep them clean on a regular basis

Control

The most important part is for you to locate the nest. Keep in mind that these worker ants will leave their nest on a regular basis. In summer, you should prefer to look out for them at night as they are most active at this time. Start off by searching for them nearby any specific areas for food. Take a good look at the inside perimeters of your house in order to catch them on their return trip towards the colony/nest. Once you find the ants, follow a few of the worker ants patiently. You will notice that all the ants tend to return to the same area. However, keep in mind the possibility of multiple nests in your building in which case the some of the ants might go separate ways.

The Pavement Ants can be found in areas with relatively higher moisture levels. Outside your house, the nest can be found under stones in open areas and meadows. If you find it difficult to locate them outside, you can make use of sweet food as bait. These ants are bound to find edibles such as jam or dilute honey. Follow them when they’re on their way back to the nest.

Remove Water Sources

When it comes to controlling the Pavement Ants, reduction in moisture and standing water around your house goes a long way to help. Start off by repairing all the leaky pipes and ensure a routine check of tricky areas for moisture such as sinks. In the case of damp rooms such as your basement or loft, you can make use of a dehumidifier to keep things under control. For the outside, keep the gutters and downspouts functioning properly in order to keep the water flow away from your house foundation.

Remove Food Sources

Keeping the kitchen clean will discourage the ants. Make sure to wipe down all the counters and sweep the floors clean on a regular basis; this will avoid accumulation of any crumbs or spills. You can find pest-proof containers with tight seals to store your food. Make sure not to leave any fruit out in the open. All the sticky jars containing sweets, soda, syrup, or honey, should be wiped down. Make sure to use trash-cans with lids.

Inspect your Pets

Make sure not to discount your pets out of this equation. Animals, such as cats and dogs, have a way of inviting Pavement Ants into your house. Moreover, pests are attracted to their water bowls and food plates. Make sure to keep their bowls clean and instantly clean up any water or food spillage. Keep their food in sealed containers made of plastic instead of the paper bags as they are easily accessible by ants along with other pests.

Remove Access Points

Eliminate all the access points. All the bushes and trees should be trimmed away as the branches can offer help to the Pavement Ants in making their way indoors. Use silicone caulk to seal all the crevices and cracks outside the house. Pay special attention to the utility pipes.

Call the Professionals

Battling ants can be quite difficult without proper tools and training. Moreover, an infestation will not stop growing until it is treated properly. When the situation gets out of your hands, do not hesitate to call for professional help. You can find licensed pest control service near your residential areas or look up the best ones online. Not only will they be able to identify the species but they will offer you the most effective treatment for your specific needs as well.

With the aforementioned information, you will now be able to fully identify any Pavement Ants in your house. Not only are you aware of how these creatures work but you can come up with a course of action depending on your personal situation. Make sure not to ignore an ant situation particularly in the presence of young children. Contact professional services if need be. Stay healthy!

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