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illustration of a small honey ant

Introduction

Small honey ants are very tolerant of colder weather. These ants have an affinity for honeydew and will gorge themselves on it until their abdomen balloons up. Their ant colonies are small in size and only have about 1500 workers in it, and only 1 to 6 queens.

Recognition

Small honey ants, as their name implies, are a small ant; adults grow to be about 1/8th of an inch in length and are light to dark shiny brown in color. They have a 12-segmented antenna that are not clubbed. Their abdomen is triangular in shape, is darker in color than the rest of their body, and has a circular pattern of hairs on its tip. Small honey ants have a 1 segmented waist and their thorax is thin with an uneven profile.

Biology

Small honey ants have a very similar life cycle to most other species of ants. Reproductives swarm from the colony usually between March and April. After mating, the queen creates a nest and will lay her eggs. That first batch of eggs develops into workers who will then turn around and take care of future eggs and larvae, gather food, and maintain the nest.

An interesting fact about small honey ants is that they have special worker ants referred to as repletes. These workers gorge themselves on honeydew until their abdomen is distended and attach themselves to the ceiling of the nest. They store food for the colony in the event of a food shortage.

These ants are cold weather tolerant and will actively forage for food when temperatures are just above freezing. They are less active in the summer when temperatures are at their hottest- the ants will remain in their nest deep under the soil.

Habits

Small honey ants create their nests in the soil of open, well shaded areas. Typical spots to find a small honey ant nest include flower beds and underneath logs and large stones. They place the soil that they excavate in crescent shaped mounds on top the ground.

These ants usually forage for food outside, typically feeding on honeydew that is produced by aphids. However, they may find their way inside a home while foraging for food and will feed on sweets and liquids that they come across. Once inside a home, it is common for them to create a nest. A favorite spot is in the soil of potted plants.

Small honey ants are mostly seen as a nuisance pest. This species of ant do not bite or sting, are not aggressive, and do not cause any damages to homes or other structures. Much like other ant species, they will contaminate food in your home as they forage and are difficult to control and eliminate.

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Prevention

Prevention tips for keeping small honey ants from choosing your home to nest and forage for food in include:

  • Making sure to regularly remove trash from your home and place it in outdoor trash cans with tight fitting lids until trash pick-up day.

  • Placing trashcans, compost piles, and gardens a distance away from the exterior of your home.

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

  • Installing door sweeps on all exterior doors.

 

Caulking spaces and gaps found around exterior windows and doors.

Control

Professional control is the most effective way to eliminate small honey ants that have infested your home and property. When you choose Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions for small honey ant control, we'll dispatch a pest control technician to your home to inspect for activity, potential entry points and other factors that will help us formulate a plan of action.

Based on the findings, the technician will treat as necessary to exterminate ants and the source of the infestation as well as show you where ants are entering and how to fix potential entry points.

We recommend an ongoing pest control program to keep ants and other household pests out all year long. Our Signature Pest Protection is a comprehensive residential pest control plan that includes year-round protection and regularly scheduled services and is effective in controlling ants, bugs and other pests that are trying to take over.

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