Highly ubiquitous throughout the United States, Citronella Ants (also known as Yellow Ants) can be found on both sides of the continent, from the states bordering the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Separated into two scientific categories, Yellow Ants are known by the designations of Lasius interjectus, which refers to the larger sizes of yellow ants and Lasius claviger, referring to the smaller variations of Yellow Ants.
Both larger and smaller varieties of Citronella Ants are found throughout the contiguous United States and are exceptionally prevalent in the Eastern geographic regions of the continent and can be found anywhere from the kitchen to crawl spaces.
Measuring at about a 1/8th of an inch, Citronella Ants are confused with termites due to their size and swarming tendencies which result in them often warming into homes and is reminiscent of the behavior of winged ants. Further complicating identification efforts is the inherent coloring of Yellow Ants which features a wide range of hues from dark red and yellows to drab shades of brown.
The official Citronella name is given eponymously; when threatened or even crushed, they emit a noticeably strong Citronella odor that intensifies when their bodies are crushed by humans.
Outdoors Citronella Ants typically nest near moisture sources and in dead or decaying wood.
- Behavior and habits
- Life cycle
- Indications of a Yellow Ant Infestation
- Yellow Ants and Humans
- Yellow Ants Bites
- Yellow Ant Control Efforts
|Color: Typically, these ants are yellow||Length: Workers are about four millimeters in length while queen ants are about eight millimeters long|
Unlike the similar Carpenter Ants, the Citronella Ant has been described as having a noticeably lemony smell while also appearing very lemonesque as well. With sizes ranging from four to eight millimeters, these yellow-colored ants have a unique anatomy that consists of complicated antennae that are separated into twelve distinct parts. One of the twelve segments is shorter in length and resides below its head.
All twelve of the segmented antennae are tapered towards the top and widen towards the end.
Near the apex of the thorax is a marked slope apparent on the Yellow Ant’s side profile. Yellow Ants also uniquely have a circular ring of hairs around its anal opening. Also noteworthy is the fact that the only winged Yellow Ants are those who are undergoing a reproductive cycle, such as the queen.
Behavior and Habits
Yellow Ants are typically found nesting in the soil outdoors. Spotted in a plethora of locales, these ants can be found in the soil under logs, timber, rocks, rotted wood and many more natural elements. Yellow Ants also tend to favor man-made construction and are often found creating nests inside of crawl spaces, in potted plants, under porches and concrete slabs, and alongside the foundations of homes and buildings.
Despite their specific location, Yellow Ants will always forge pushed-up soil masses while creating their way to their ultimate underground location. These very noticeable soil masses and the various soiled debris left behind are yet another reason why Yellow Ants are often mistaken for termites and their methodology in foraging pathways into the soil.
While Yellow Ants are widely considered to be common outdoor insects, they do at times make their way into homes and buildings. Preferring locales with high levels of moisture, Yellow Ants will quickly gravitate towards wood that is damp and damaged by such maladies like fungus or even from a termite issue. It is of critical importance to note that Yellow Ants typically do not make way into homes; when they do, it is usually a surefire indication that there are moisture and dampness issues from the home that need to be reconciled immediately.
Within the confines of the nest, a queen ant produces new workers, which include some winged male and female Yellow Ants referred to as swarmers. The winged Yellow Ants fly out of the nest into the outside world and mate, with the males perishing relatively soon after and the females moving on to becoming established queens for new Yellow Ant colonies.
Winged Yellow Ants mate in the fall season months of September and October, which is widely considered to be known as the “Swarming Season.” After mating, the Yellow Ants seal themselves off in a diminutive nest composed of soil and/or soft, rotted wood to lay and harvest their eggs. Yellow Ant workers tend to the larvae collectively and feed them until they begin the pupate transformation. (swarming season) Then seal themselves in a small nest in rotted wood or soil to lay their eggs. When the transformation begins, the ants emerge as adult Yellow Ants, and the cycle perpetuates itself.
Winged Yellow Ants are known as swarmers. With their reproductive capability, they are often a nuisance for homeowners and building owners when they leave their respective colonies to search for mating partners. Often, winged Yellow Ants (swarmers) will make their ways indoors from the outside world via cracks in walls, foundations, and windows.
Indications of a Yellow Ant Infestation
The most obvious and clear-cut signs of a Yellow Ant infestation is a visible discovery of Yellow Ant workers that are readily engaging in foraging efforts. More abundantly clear of an ongoing infestation is the presence of any swarming Yellow Ants with reproductive capabilities. A less reliable indicator of an ongoing infestation is the sighting of mounds of soil that might indicate digging Yellow Ants.
Yellow Ants and Humans
While Yellow Ants are unarguably a nuisance, they are relatively harmless to humans and will not damage things within homes. Upon spotting a winged Yellow Ant, property owners should immediately inspect the close by surroundings to visually verify the presence of any Yellow Ant nests. If a visual verification is made, eradication efforts should be made immediately to prevent the further fast-paced reproduction cycle from perpetuating itself.
Efforts should be made to remove all potential nesting sites to best discourage the presence of nesting Yellow Ants. Any firewood, timber, and logs should be stored elevated off the ground and away from the close proximity to the home.
Yellow Ants Bites
Yellow Ants will almost never bite a human and are not related to or associated with any health problems.
Yellow Ant Insect Control Efforts
Yellow Ants almost always construct nests within the foundations of homes or in close proximity to homes. If the presence of Yellow Ants is visually verified, immediate efforts should be made to remove moisture-saturated or rotten wood, timber, or logs.
Yellow Ants will also often build nests in moisture-rich locales such as gardens and lawns and can ultimately pose an unmanageable issue for homeowners and building owners.
However, many efforts can be undertaken by individuals on a DIY basis to exterminate the presence of Yellow Ants. Indoor baits are an incredibly effective and highly popular method implemented by individuals looking for cost-effective measures that are performance-based.
Not only effective at controlling indoor Yellow Ant populations, baits will kill present Yellow Ants but also ensure that bait is taken back to the Yellow Ant nests and subsequently destroy large populations of the colony. Baits can also be used as a way to identify the location of previously undetected Yellow Ant nests.
If you are setting bait traps within your home, ensure that you place them in appropriate locations and use an array of products with proven track records. Among the most popular with consumers are Maxforce and Advance bait products. Both companies offer baits and an array of liquid and dust-form pesticides that work exceptionally well.
Measures taken outdoors differ in that a wide-range of pesticide products must be used in order to ensure ultimate extermination success. Some of the most powerful and popular Yellow Ant pesticides available on the market include brands such as Termidor, Demand, Talstar, and Phantom. For outdoors endeavors, the nest must be visually located, and a concentrated amount of pesticide applied to the nest and the immediate surrounding areas.
It should be noted that Yellow Ant colonies established in an outdoor setting can be incredibly difficult to eradicate. Many instances occur where nests are hidden from sight and are less conspicuous to human discovery. An example is a mound of dirt that covers the opening to a nest.
Reconsidering the planning of your landscaping may be of benefit for homeowners who deal with Yellow Ant infestations on a yearly or common basis.
Referring to indoors extermination, vacuuming up flying yellow ants is also an effective method, widely prepared by homeowners who balk at the notion of saturating their homes with pesticide-based products.
Despite the method that is undertaken, all homeowners should quickly source the location of the Yellow Ants to make the proper identification and ensure that they are not in fact termites. A quick way to check if you are unsure if you are dealing with termites is to crush a Yellow Ant. The smell of a lemony odor is imparted with a Yellow Ant.
To further ensure the lack of any future infestations, homeowners should also immediately look for any sources of moisture such as cracks, leaks, or other sealing problems that provide the moisture-rich environment that Yellow Ants are drawn to.
Other basic preventative measures that offer high efficacy include using caulk to seal cracks to ensure that flying Yellow Ants don’t make their way to the interior of your home.
Quick facts about Yellow Ants:
- Yellow Ants are subterranean insects that feed on the excretions (honeydew) of mealybugs and aphids
- Yellow Ant workers typically exhibit less color variation than their swarmer counterparts and are much more yellow in color
- In some parts of the United States, Yellow Ants are referred to as “moisture ants”
- Many Yellow Ants are actually brownish colored with a wide range of color variants including yellow-brown and dark brown
- The scientific name for Yellow Ants is Pheidole megacephala
- The Latin name for Yellow Ants is Lasius interjectus
- Yellow Ants are commonly mistaken for termites due to the presence of dirt mounds, their swarming ability, and their range in coloring
- Yellow Ants eat insects that are either living or dead in addition to smaller invertebrates and a profusion of honeydew
- Yellow Ants have a propensity to forage for human foods within homes with a preference for food that is fatty, sweet, or protein-based
- Yellow Ant populations can lead to the further degradation of wood inside or underneath homes that is already saturated with moisture and rotting
- Smaller infestations of Yellow Ants can be effectively managed by individuals undertaking DIY processes
- Set baits in strategic locations such as behind walls, behind appliances, behind door and window frames, inside cabinets and other locales where Yellow Ants have been spotted
- Rotate your bait product selections if you find one is not working efficaciously for you
- Keep your home and Building tidy and clean
- Keep food properly stored, wrapped, and contained
- Greener solutions for Yellow Ant eradication are typically limited and involve vacuuming, sealing, caulking, and other more preventative measures
- While often mistaken for termites, Yellow Ants pose little to no issue to homes, home foundations, or walls
The Citronella Ant is an insect that is known all throughout the United States. Also referred to as the Citronella Ant or the Moisture Ant, Yellow Ants are bothersome creatures that are often mistaken for their more fearsome Termite counterparts.
Found outdoors in trees, plants, and moisture-saturated rotting wood, logs, and timber, Yellow Ants can also build inconspicuous nests in the dirt and under the foundations of homes and buildings. With their ability to fly, reproductive-capable Yellow Ants can make their ways into homes and create nuisances for homeowners and building owners. While relatively harmless to humans and seemingly innocuous in comparison to their destructive termite relatives, Yellow Ants are an easy hassle to contend with.
Like with termite control of termite swarms, bed bugs, and the eradication of other ants like carpenter ants, through easy and basic identifying measures and pest control, homeowners can properly assess their infestation problem and take appropriate eradication measures that are easy, performance-proven, and cost-effective to ensure that their homes stay safe and insect-free. If you don’t want to opt for commercial pest control, ant control can be easy to do yourself when you do the research first.