Have you ever noticed small ant mounds lining your driveway or sidewalk? Those are pavement ant mounds. These insects earned their name because they like to tunnel under slabs of concrete, rocks, paver bricks and sidewalks.
Learn about pavement ants and how they may affect you and your home.
Pavement ants are brown or black and are about one-eighth of an inch long in size. They're often mistaken for odorous house ants and sometimes called “sugar ants" because they are attracted to sweet food sources, like sugar, nectar, fruits and syrups. However, they'll also eat greasy foods, small seeds and other insects.
Most often, you'll see pavement ants outside of your house, near the edges of sidewalks, patios, driveways and rocks. In addition, they may nest near and under concrete foundations. They leave a tell-tale sign of soil next to and on top of paved surfaces and sometimes against exterior walls as they create vast tunnels and nests below.
Sometimes, though, the pavement ant will make its way inside your house, leaving piles of soil that appear under baseboards or on top of basement or garage floors. They're also known to nest near radiators and sub slab heating ducts.
So why do pavement ants come inside your home when their preferred nesting sites are beneath stone and concrete slabs? They're looking for the three things that any pests seek out when they make their way indoors: shelter, water and food. That means attractants like sweet foods, dripping faucets and easy entry points (such as tiny cracks and holes that lead into the house) will quickly draw them indoors when conditions aren't suitable outside.
Unlike carpenter ants or termites, pavement ants don't burrow into wood, so it's not typical for them to cause major structural damage to a home. That being said, pavement ants build a complex network of tunnels and dens. On rare occasions, these underground colonies can spread out as far as 52 square feet. When left untreated over extended periods of time, pavement ant colonies can cause enough damage to cause patios, pavers and the like to shift slightly. Although rare, disturbing the nest during gardening or other activities can result in a sting.
However, these ants are often more of a nuisance than anything else. During spring and summer, the alates (reproductive flying ants) will swarm to start new colonies. If you have pavement ants inside your home, they'll come out of hiding during this time. And when they come out of hiding to swarm, they can contaminate the food in your house and just be generally unpleasant to have around— particularly if they have trouble finding their way out. That doesn't mean they'll only seek shelter in your home in spring and summer, though; pavement ants can be noticeable pests regardless of the season.
Taking any steps possible to prevent infestation is always a good starting place. Here are several things you can do to help prevent a pavement ant infestation:
Individual pavement ant colonies can often be controlled by baits, but those solutions may not work on a long-term basis. To truly control pavement ants, you need to directly treat the nests in the soil, and this is best left to an ant control professional. The experienced ant control technicians at Terminix® can inspect the perimeter of your home to determine the extent of your infestation and work with you on a treatment plan for long-term relief.