There are close to 1000 species of ants just in the United States alone. One of the most common species is the little black ant, monomorium minimum. These pesky ants are incredibly difficult to control and eliminate. They also swarm during their mating season which runs from June to August. As we enter these summer months, what do you need to know about these little black ants and what can you do to prevent them from taking over your home?
Don’t let the name fool you. Little black ants can be dark brown, black, or jet black. They also have a shiny appearance. Worker ants can be up to 1/16” in length while the queens of the colonies can reach up to 1/8” in length. Their antennae have 12 segments and end in a 3-segment club. Their pedicles have 2 nodes.
Little black ants are found throughout the entire United States, although their heaviest population is in the eastern half of the country. They nest in moderate to large colonies that have 2 or more queens. Little black ants are highly adaptable. They prefer to live outdoors in decaying wood but they also nest in rotting logs, under rocks, in gardens, under landscaping mulch, in small craters of fine soil, in cracks in the cement, and under piles of bricks or lumber. When they nest indoors they can be found in voids and cavities in the walls, in decaying wood, in masonry, or behind facades.
Little black ants forage indoors for food and water. These ants are omnivorous – feeding on insects, sweets, honeydew, vegetables, greasy and oily food, corn meal, and even plant secretions. They also look for water sources indoors. They follow scent-marked trails which allow the other ants in the colony to follow them to the newfound food and water source. These trails can be seen outdoors along sidewalks and foundation walls and indoors in wooden items, on walls, and along the junction between carpet and walls.
What should you look for if you suspect an infestation of little black ants? The most obvious sign is visible ants inside your home. Little black ants are most commonly found crawling on the bathroom or kitchen floors and cabinets. They are also seen entering cracks and gaps in the walls, floors, or ceilings which most likely lead to their nest.
What can you do to prevent these pesky ants from invading your home this summer? Follow these tips outlined below to help ant-proof your home.
- Seal cracks and crevices in your exterior walls and doors with silicone based caulk.
- Replace rotted or water damaged wood in your home.
- Check gutters and spouts to ensure they are draining away from the house.
- Use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture inside your home.
- Repair leaky pipes and faucets.
- Practice good sanitation.
- Clean your food prep areas daily.
- Keep food sealed in airtight containers, including pet food.
- Take the trash out on a regular basis.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet from your home.
- Keep shrubbery well-trimmed.
- Remove dead tree stumps and decaying wood.
If you suspect an ant infestation in your home contact a pest control professional who can come in and do a thorough inspection and set you up with a comprehensive treatment plan.