Pavement ants are native to Europe and were mostly brought over to the colonies in the 1700’s when colonists were carrying soil on the ships for ballast. Once the ships reached the colonies the soil was off loaded, along with the ants living in it. Today these ants are spread over the East Coast and can be found in California and Washington. While passive by nature, pavement ants pose little threat to humans and pets, but can cause a good deal of annoyance.
Either light brown or black in color, these ants are typically 2.5 to 3 mm long, 1/10 to 1/16 inches. Winged breeding ants can be twice as large as the normal working ant. Pavement ants can’t bite but they do have the ability to sting.
Each colon can contain thousands of worker ants and multiple queens. Unlike many other ants colonies are normally contained to one area instead of spread out through the yard or drive way. Keeping with their name, they tend to build nests along the edges or in the cracks of concrete and pavement. These ants can also be found nesting inside the home in empty wall spaces, in or beneath insulation and beneath water heaters.
Pavement ants are not picky eaters. They will forage for almost any type of food. A few of their preferred foods are greasy things, sweets, seeds and both living and dead insects. Pet foods are also on the menu. They will set up little highways between food, water and heat sources and their nest. The worker ants can easily find their way back and forth by following these lines.
With so many different control methods around it can be hard to determine which one is best for you. From baiting to spraying to natural control methods, you’ll need to find what works best for you and your home.
- Baiting: A poison is spread over the hill or on one of the highways that the worker ants travel. The poison bait will be taken back to the colony and share it with the rest of the ants. This will effectively kill off most of the nest. Some baits use a stronger poison that may kill the worker ants before they get the chance to share it with the colony. Instead try to find a weaker poison. It may take a number of applications and several weeks to kill off the nest.
- Insecticide Spray: Sprays can be used to kill off the worker ants seen searching for food or water or can be applied onto the ant nests. If you can’t find the nest then sprays can be used on the highway areas. Look for worker ants around door thresholds, cracks in walls, windows, plumbing areas, and behind appliances. Research has shown that when used properly insecticides pose no threat to pets or children. So make sure to carefully read over instructions before using any products.
- Home Treatments: If you want to try a more green treatment before chemical control methods there are a few ways to do this. For the ants that may have invaded your home you can use a cleaning mix of vinegar, water and a dozen drops of tea tree oil. Spray this mix around counters, doorways, windows and other possible entry points. This can cause the ants to lose the scent of their highways, causing them to get lost. To kill off a nest all you need is water and a large pot. Bring a gallon of water to a heavy boil and then pour over the nest. The heated water will kill the ants you can see and will brown many of the ants in the nest. You will have to do this once to twice a day until the nest is inactive. While this method works well for pavement ants, it does not work on ants that spread out their nests.
There are very few ways to prevent any ants from trying to colonize your yard, but there are things you can do inside to help keep them outside. Regular cleaning is the best prevention as it removes any food sources the ants may find inside. Check your home foundation for any cracks and fix them before ants can nest. You can put baby power across any entry points. The ants don’t like the small partials sticking to them as it mixes up their scent signals. You can also plant an ant barrier of sorts around your home. Mints, hot peppers and other strong scents plants typically deter ants.
Living with pavement ants can be a hassle, but with localized colonies and passive natures they can be controlled much easier than other varieties of ants. If you find yourself with an infestation that you can’t control call in a professional pest control expert.