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acrobat ant

Introduction

Acrobat ants can be found invading properties and homes across the United States. They are referred to as acrobat ants because of the worker’s distinctive ability to hold their abdomen up over the rest of their body which makes them look like they are in a circus performing a balancing act.

Recognition

Acrobat ants are a small species of ant, adults can range in size from 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch in length. They have a segmented body and a unique heart-shaped abdomen that is usually darker than the rest of their body. Acrobat ants can range in color from light yellowish-brown to black, and some can even be multi-colored.

Biology

Acrobat ants reproduce very similarly to other ant species. Mature acrobat ant colonies will produce winged females and males. These reproductive members will swarm from the colony (usually in the fall) to mate. Once mating has occurred the females will fly away and pick and a new location to create a nest in. She will then remove her own wings, lay her eggs, and become the new queen to a new acrobat ant colony.

Habits

Acrobat ants can most often be found nesting outside in trees, in stumps, in decaying logs, in woodpiles, under mulch or leaf piles, and in porches, decks or roof eaves. Sometimes they enter into homes through cracks in foundations, through gaps found around windows and doors, and through utility line entrances. Once inside they may decide to nest behind walls and in insulation. The preferred areas are those that collect moisture or have had previous water damage.

Acrobat ants will also take advantage of spaces that have previously been excavated and damage by termites or carpenter ants. This can sometimes make it confusing when trying to identify which species of insect has invaded your home or property.

Acrobat ants commonly feed on honeydew (waste that is excreted from aphids and mealybugs). They will also eat both live and dead insects, and invade homes to feed on sweets and proteins that can be found in kitchen, storage, and pantry areas.

Damage

Acrobat ants are not a particularly damaging species of ant. They are mainly found nesting outdoors. Finding their way into homes while foraging for food their presence can become a nuisance for homeowners. They can cause food within homes to become contaminated and need to be thrown out. If they have decided to nest within your home you may notice piles of frass and other debris that they have excavated from the wood they are invading and on your floors.

These ants do have the ability to sting if they feel that they or their nest is being threatened. However this is not usually a major issue or concern for homeowners. 

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Prevention and Control

Preventing problems with acrobat ants can be accomplished by making sure that your property and home are void of things that may attract them to it, and that your home is being properly maintained.

Here are some things that you can easily do in order to prevent acrobat ants from choosing your property:

  • Remove dead or decaying trees, limbs and stumps and piles of leaves and other organic debris.

  • Woodpiles, compost piles and outdoor trash should be located at a distance from your home.

  • Regularly clean and maintain gutter and landscape drainage systems to keep water flowing away from your home.

  • Keep trees, bushes and other landscaping trimmed back from your home’s exterior.

  • Seal any cracks or crevices in your home’s foundation or exterior walls.

  • Install door sweeps on all exterior doors

  • Caulk any gaps around windows, doors, and pipe and utility entrances.

  • Repair or replace any tears or holes in door and window screens.

  • Remove and replace any wood or insulation that has been damaged by water in your house.

  • Properly store food in your kitchen by sealing it in either glass or plastic containers or in the refrigerator.

  • Don’t leave food out on counters.

  • Dirty dishes need to be washed a.s.a.p.

Professional Control

If acrobat ants have decided to invade your home than it’s certainly time to let a trained Rottler technician come and find, treat and safely eliminate them. We will eliminate both the foraging acrobat ants and their nesting areas. This is accomplished by using residual or non-residual liquid insecticide, aerosol, or dust formulations, depending on your home’s unique needs. Outside of your home a full perimeter treatment will be applied by one of our Rottler technicians using a residual liquid insecticide.

Sources

http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/iiin/aacrobat.html
http://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/ants/acrobat-ants/
http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/ants/acrobat_ant.htm

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