Sugar Ants

Latin Name: Camponotus consobrinus

Sugar ant is a common name that many people use to describe any small ant that is attracted to sweets. However, the sugar ant is actually the species Camponotus consobrinus.

Identification

Sugar ants range from 2 to 15 mm in size. Winged male sugar ants with royal blood are completely black, while female workers have orange-colored bodies.

Habitat & Diet

Also known as the banded sugar ant, sugar ants prefer to live and forage for food in suburban areas. In the wild, sugar ants typically dwell in woodlands, forests and heaths. Sugar ant colonies can be found in soil, between rocks, in holes in wood and around the twigs of trees or shrubs. When sugar ants build their nests in soil, they can be recognized by large dirt hills surrounding the colonies’ entrances. They can be found foraging under house lights and in streets during warm summer months and prefer warm and humid climates.

Habitat affects the size of sugar ants because different locations provide different sources of food. Ranging from 2 to 15 mm in size, sugar ants feed on nectar, secretions of various plants, sugary foods, insects, small animals and plant-eating invertebrates such as the caterpillar. Sugar ants prefer honeydew from aphids and protect aphids from other predators to ensure the safety of their food source.

Reproduction

The eggs that queen sugar ants produce in late spring or early autumn can hatch into new queens or males. Winged male sugar ants with royal blood are completely black, while female workers have orange-colored bodies. During autumn season, thousands of alates mate in the air, while sugar ant workers keep guard on the ground.

In the Home

When they locate a reliable source of food inside a home, sugar ants can become a nuisance. If you suspect a sugar ant infestation of your home, check your kitchen, pantry and food containers. Sugar ants are attracted to spills, stains and other food traces, as well. To help get rid of them, clean up these conditions.

Workers are seen at dusk moving along marked trails in search of food, and they return to their nests at dawn. It can be difficult to locate a sugar ant nest, due to their nocturnal behaviors.

Do Sugar Ants Bite?

The sugar ant is a rather mild mannered ant that does not sting. When disturbed, the sugar ant may defend itself by using its large mouthparts to bite, but its bite is not painful.

More Information

The general public often uses the name “sugar ant” to describe many different species of ant. Any small to medium-sized ant which doesn’t sting is referred to by this name. Common examples of ants called “sugar ants” are pharaoh ants, odorous house ants, acrobat ants, etc. Another example of the use of a general name applied to multiple species would be using “water bug” to describe cockroaches. Proper identification of the species is critical to correctly managing any infestation. Unfortunately people often believe that all “sugar ants” are one type of pest and that a single strategy works for against them all. The actual species can vary greatly as to their biology and nesting habits and therefore how they are treated. When ants invade a home, it is best to contact a pest control professional to properly identify the ant and develop an effective management strategy.