Little Black Ants and What You Should Know and How to Get Rid of Them
As you may have guessed by their common name, Little Black ants (Monomorium minimum) are noticeably smaller than other ant species. These relatively harmless and common ants are little more than a nuisance, but you definitely don't want to see them crawling all over your sandwich!
How do You Identify Little Black Ants?
Little Black ants range from dark brown to black in color, and they also appear very shiny, measuring only about 1/16" long (queens are about twice the size, e.g. 1/8" in length).
Where Can You Find Little Black Ants?
Little Black ants are found throughout the United States, more highly concentrated in urban and industrial areas. These ants are also highly adaptable outdoor creatures, building their nests most frequently in dark, protected areas (e.g., under rocks, rotting logs, decaying trees, etc., and even inside cement cracks). They can also thrive in lawns and gardens. Indoors, Little Black ants are known to build their nests in woodwork, wall voids, baseboards, and underneath carpeting.
Little Black ant colonies are mid-sized to large colonies, usually with two or more queens. Their prime mating season is between June and August (you'll notice their winged swarms), and afterward, mated females will form new colonies, which grow quickly throughout the fall. Males die soon after mating.
Little Black ant workers forage for nourishment and moisture sources using scent-marked (pheromone) trails, commonly visible along sidewalks and the walls of structure foundations. They may also nest in soil and underneath yard debris. If a colony relocates inside a structure, large populations of Little Black ants can invade cracks, crevices and wall voids, establishing visible pheromone trails, particularly along cabinets, counters, and pantries.
Little Black ants are not only omnivorous, they are also scrappers! Even though they are small in size, these ants will NOT back down from a fight with larger ant species over food resources, especially when protecting aphids (one of their favorite sweet food sources). They will feed on just about anything from sweets, meats, greasy foods, seeds, plant secretions, and produce, to other insects, living or dead.
How Did Little Black Ants Get Into My Home?
Little black ants come indoors at times in search of food and moisture, and an infestation of these little pests is typically the result of improper food storage. Noticing these ants in your home may mean a larger outdoor infestation is at hand and located nearby, or possibly already inside.
Do You Have a Little Black Ant Infestation?
Signs of an infestation of these little critters include: visible evidence of them (trails) inside your home, seeing them crawling on your bathroom or kitchen floor, along countertops, near sinks, in cabinets in search of food or water, and seeing them entering cracks and gaps in a wall or in the floor.
How Serious is a Little Black Ant Problem?
Little Black ants have stingers, but they are far too small to be effective against most threats. They will mostly get on your nerves and make you not want to eat your food if they succeed in getting to it in large numbers. Note that they do crawl over everything they can, making them carriers of bacteria.
How do You Get Rid of Little Black Ants?
Indoors and outdoors, ant bait is the most reliable way to eliminate Little Black Ants.
Outdoors, place ant bait stations, like Maggie's Farm No Spill Ant Kill bait stations or gel bait, like Maggie's Farm Ant Killer gel bait near foraging trails close to the nest. Maggie's Farm ant baits can wipe out entire colonies of ants, without the mess of other liquid baits. Foraging worker ants find the bait stations or bait droplets you've put out for them, then will go back and share it with the rest of the colony. Works well indoors and outdoors.
Indoors, Maggie's Farm No Spill Ant Kill stations can be used on countertops, in corners, and in any other areas where ant activity has been seen. Remove/wipe up any other food sources when baiting, and do NOT spray areas with bait with any ant killer sprays. You want them to eat the bait and take it back to their nest.
Sprays can be used indoors and outdoors, work well as a spot treatment for Fire ants you see, as well as for killing Little Black ants nesting in cracks, crevices, baseboards, and wall voids. Maggie's Farm Ant & Roach Killer spray not only kills Little Black ants, it also kills other species of ants (including Carpenter ants), bed bugs, cockroaches, spiders, ticks, fleas, and a variety of other crawling pests. Keep in mind that sprays are not the best long-term solutions (as they only kill ants you can see, not the source of the problem, which is the colony). Sprays can help curb ant populations in the short-term, however.
Maggie’s Farm Yard Bug Spray can be used around the perimeter of your house to create a repellent barrier of protection by preventing Little Black ants from getting inside. It will also kill them on contact. Plan to repeat spraying about every 45 – 60 days.
Dusts: Dusts also work well as an ant contact killer, if you can find the colony/nest. Try Maggie's Farm Spider & Insect Dust. For Little Black ants, CAREFULLY puff dust into wall voids where you might suspect a nest. Repeat a few days later if there is still ant activity.
How do You Prevent Little Black Ants?
As with any pest invasion, good sanitation to eliminate Little Black ant food sources is your first preventive measure for effective control. Also:
- Keep your sink free of dirty dishes
- Keep your trash sealed and take it out regularly
- Sweep, mop, vacuum regularly
- Caulk and seal gaps, cracks, and holes in exterior walls to keep Little Black ants from getting inside.
- Outdoors, remove firewood and any other yard debris away from the side of your home.
- Landscaping mulch shouldn't be more than two inches thick, and should be kept at least 12 inches away from your home's foundation.
- Avoid sprinklers from spraying the side of your home/foundation whenever possible.
- Keep the lawn mowed and trees/shrubs trimmed away from touching the side of your home.
Treat plants for aphids regularly.
For Serious Infestations, Call a Professional
You may never need to call a pest control company to help you manage Little Black ants, but if you do get overrun by these little creatures at home, don't hesitate to call in the professionals.
For more general help with ants, read the following articles:
What are your Little Black ant control tips and tricks? Leave us a comment below!
For scientifically-tested, effective ant control in your home, yard, and garden that is friendly to the environment, try Maggie’s Farm pest control products. Our promise is that our plant and mineral-based products are developed by scientists and seasoned pest control professionals to be the most effective.