What You Should Know About Pavement Ants and How to Get Rid of Them
Pavement ants (Tetramorium caespitum) are one of the most common ant species homeowners encounter in the United States. Pavement ants are a soil-nesting species, and are known for burrowing underneath sidewalks, driveways, and building slabs, dumping the soil they're digging onto the pavement. They are not much of a nuisance unless they show up at your cookout or picnic.
How do You Identify Pavement Ants?
Pavement ants are about 1/8" to 1/16" long, ranging from reddish-brown to black with lighter-colored limbs and elbowed antennae. Their bodies are oval-shaped and segmented. Pavement ants also feature a pair of spines on their backs, and a shiny abdomen, with a stinger at the end of their final abdominal segment.
Queen Pavement ants and swarmers (reproductive ants) have wings and are twice the size of the common workers.
Pavement ants primarily nest outdoors underneath stones, in the soil, along curbs, or in cracks in the pavement. They can be seen in trails along sidewalks, driveways, patios, and cracks and crevices in foundation walls. These ants often carry food, soil, excavated debris, or eggs from one colony to another. Pavement ants are commonly visible during spring, summer, and fall.
Pavement ant colonies will feature multiple queens and numerous workers. When the queens lay eggs, they develop, and worker ants defend and transfer the eggs and larvae from one colony to the next one to help protect from changes in temperature and moisture.
Where Do You Find Pavement Ants?
Pavement ants are found throughout the United States. They are most common throughout the East Coast, but also throughout the Midwest, West Coast, and throughout the southern states.
Outdoors, these ants nest underneath rocks, logs, sidewalks, driveways, etc. Some signs of a colony include:
Trails – Workers will travel in lines across floors and underneath carpets and rugs, to travel between their nests and food sources. You may see their trails on countertops and other areas in your kitchen, in office lunchrooms, and in cafeterias.
Dirt Mounds – Look for round piles of soil on the pavement near areas where they dig and nest. These dirt piles are often visible near structure foundations, and near sidewalks/driveways/parking lot cracks.
- Swarms – Winged Pavement ants (male and female) get away from their colonies in clusters in order to mate.
Indoors, they will also nest in wall voids, in insulation, and underneath floors. Their foraging activity can be hard to detect, as they usually forage at night. If they are nesting indoors, you might see them clustering near windows, trying to get outside to mate.
How Did Pavement Ants Get Into My Home?
Pavement ants prefer nesting areas near sidewalks, driveways, structure foundations, driveways, etc. Cracks in the structure of your home or business will let these ants indoors when they need to come in looking for food and moisture.
Pavement ants are omnivorous, and will eat just about anything (e.g., fruits, seeds, honeydew, nectar, other insects, etc.). Pavement ants also consume the common household foods you and your family eat, like meats, cheese, bread, grease, dairy, and sweets. They will also eat pet food wherever they find it.
When Pavement ants find food particles and spills around and in your home, it encourages them to come back for more, so it's important to keep things as clean and crumb-free as possible. Pavement ants are one of the most common ant species seen in the U.S., but you'll rarely see them active in the daytime.
Is a Pavement Ant Problem Serious?
Pavement ants are not considered a health risk to humans or animals, but they can contaminate food and should be avoided.
Outside in your yard, Pavement ant colonies nest deep underneath the soil, making them hard to find and manage. These ants will sting you if provoked enough, but they are not an extremely aggressive species and are unlikely to sting.
How do You Get Rid of Pavement Ants?
Ant bait, bait stations, ant sprays, or a good plant-based insecticide dust are all viable options for controlling Pavement ants. Look for Pavement ant colonies around the foundation of your home, as well as around logs or large rocks. Indoors, check around baseboards, carpet edges, and under sinks. Treat wherever you observe their activity.
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 Pavement ants nesting in cracks, crevices, baseboards, and wall voids. Maggie's Farm Ant & Roach Killer spray not only kills Pavement 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 Pavement 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 Pavement 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 Pavement Ants?
As with any pest invasion, good sanitation to eliminate Pavement ant food and moisture sources is your first preventive measure for effective control.
- Keep counter tops and floors clean and free of spills and crumbs. Do not leave the sink full of dirty dishes.
- Keep trash tightly sealed, and remove daily.Do what you can to eliminate standing water around your house.
- Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from touching the side of your home, as Pavement ants (and other species) use them branches to get inside.
- Seal up all cracks, crevices, and openings around your home's foundation. Place screens over vents and fill utility entry points with wadded up steel wool.
- Ensure window screens and weatherproofing are in good repair.
- Keep firewood and other yard clutter at least 20 feet away from the side of your home.
For Serious Infestations, Call a Professional
If you are feeling overwhelmed with a Pavement ant problem, call a pest control company.
For more general help with ants, read the following articles:
What are your Pavement 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.