(Psuedomyrmex gracilis)

Characteristics

Twig ants, or “elongated twig ants,” generally have large, prominent eyes that are oval-shaped. Because they are elongated, they can appear to look more like wasps than other species of ants do. They are also commonly called the "Mexican twig ant."

SIZE: 5/16-inch to 2/5-inch, or 8 to 10 mm, in length

COLOR: Their color can vary depending on where the ants are located. It can vary from a dark brownish black, to an orange-brown, or a mixture of the two. The color variation generally found in most of the southern states is a black head, black abdomen and an orange middle region. These colors are thought to try to warn predators to stay away.

BEHAVIOR: These ants move in quick, short dashes and will dart around branches when they are disturbed. Twig ants are not really that aggressive, even when disturbed. If a nest has been disturbed numerous times, the twig ants may simply relocate the nest anywhere from a few feet to a few yards away. They do this in a very unique manner. Instead of leaving pheromone trails for other members of the nest to follow, the adult workers carry other aged workers, queens and males to the new nest site.

However, when disturbed, they may respond by stinging. And twig ants can deliver a very painful sting.

Diet

Twig ants mainly feed on live insects, especially butterflies, moths, aphids and sometimes even fungus spores.

Habitat

Twigs ants are originally from Mexico, but have found their way into the southern United States, though they’re not common here. These ants typically live in trees.

Twig ants usually have a small, one queen nest, with only one hole that serves as both the exit and entrance. The opening of the nest is usually only large enough for one to three ants to come out of at a time. Twig ants, as their name implies, will often make their nests in twigs, plant cavities and in dead plants.

People often find them only when they fall from bushes or trees onto the ground or picnic tables. Twig ants may crawl on people as they walk through thick bushes, which can be a situation when they respond with their very painful sting.

Tips for Control

People should try to avoid these ants. Because of their sting, they are considered pests and are best controlled by professionals. Watch for these ants during hiking, yard work and picnics. If you do find twig ants on you, gently brush them off yourself.

If you have an ant problem in your home, or want to avoid ant problems from the start, a pest control professional can help.