Pyramid Ants

(Dorymyrmex bureni)

Characteristics

SIZE: One-eighth of an inch long, with a pyramid-shaped projection on top of the thorax.

COLOR: Red or reddish-black head and thorax, with a black abdomen.

BEHAVIOR: Pyramid ant colonies are small, usually consisting of a single queen and a few hundred to a few thousand worker ants. Although they eat a variety of foods, pyramid ants prefer sweets, such as the honeydew produced by aphids and other insects. These ants also eat live insects, particularly fire ants. Because pyramid ants prey on pests, they are often classified as beneficial insects. These ants normally do not sting or behave aggressively towards humans. However, they may bite if their nest is disturbed.

Habitats

Pyramid ants can be found all throughout the United States, with the largest populations occurring in the south. These ants typically build their nests (also known as ant mounds) in bare, sandy soil in open, sunny areas bare of vegetation. They will also often build their nests near the nests of other ants, particularly harvester ants. These nests are small and shallow and feature a single entrance hole surrounded by a crater-shaped mound of excavated soil. They sometimes resemble small volcanoes. The remains of any insects that pyramid ants prey upon may be visible around the outer edges of these mounds as well.

While pyramid ants nest outdoors, they may occasionally invade your home in search of food and water. Even if they establish colonies around your property, pyramid ants are unlikely to cause structural damage because they prefer bare soil free of obstructions.

Tips for Control

Pyramid ants are natural predators of other ants, especially red fire ants. Other than building unsightly nests, pyramid ants are typically not a nuisance to human beings. However, if you are concerned about pyramid ants invading your home, you can take the following preventive measures to help keep them out.

  • Seal as many cracks in the building's exterior as possible.
  • Consider re-landscaping to help avoid using plants that are attractive to aphids, scale insects and similar pests that can attract pyramid ants. A tree/shrub company can be helpful with this task.

Sources:

https://urbanentomology.tamu.edu/urban-pests/ants/pyramid/

http://flrec.ifas.ufl.edu/media/flrecifasufledu/pdfs/pestants/PyramidAnt.pdf

http://lyra.ifas.ufl.edu/LyraServlet?command=getNewsletter&oid=8410134&path=1&countyID=district1.extension.ifas.ufl.edu

http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/hort/tag/pyramid-ants/

https://utahpests.usu.edu/schoolipm/structural-pest-id-guide/pyramid-ants