Acrobat Ant: Facts, Identification & Control
What do they look like?
Acrobat ants (Crematogaster spp.) get their name from their habit of acrobatically raising their abdomen above their head, especially when they are disturbed.
When viewed from above, the abdomen is heart-shaped. There are several species of acrobat ants in the United States. Acrobat ants are small; most species are less than 5.4 mm in length. Many emit an unpleasant odor when disturbed.
How Did I Get Acrobat Ants?
Acrobat ants typically live outdoors in nests within dead or decaying wood. However, the pests may invade homes through foundation cracks or gaps around wiring and pipes. Also, tree branches that grow close to or in contact with the house provide an entryway. Once indoors, acrobat ant colonies nest in insulation and woodwork, making their way into pantries in search of stored foods.
How Serious Are Acrobat Ants?
Acrobat ant nests need moisture, so their presence can be a sign of leaks within the home. Homeowners may find lines of the insects traveling from nests to food sources. Also, adult acrobat ants create annual mating swarms. The result can be alarming when the pests abruptly emerge in large numbers.
How Do I Get Rid of Acrobat Ants?
What Orkin Does
Preventing acrobat ants begins with a thorough inspection. Sometimes there is evidence to show where they made their nest. For example, if there are bits of foam on the ground by the foundation, it may be a sign that acrobat ants are nesting behind the siding. Ants that are moving in a trail can lead to their nest and their food supply. It is very often necessary to correct a moisture problem before it is possible to eliminate acrobat ants.
The Orkin Man™ is trained to help manage ants and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.
Keeping ants out of homes and buildings is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps — Assess, Implement and Monitor.
The Orkin Man™ can provide the right solution to keep ants in their place…out of your home, or business.
Signs of an Acrobat Ant Infestation
Acrobat ants are capable of nesting inside buildings, sometimes inside insulated spaces. The most visible sign of acrobat ants are the trails of ants as they forage for resources. A second sign is the debris they deposit as they excavate their nests. This often consists of foam insulation and dead ants near the nest.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Outdoors, acrobat ants nest near moisture such as under stones, in stumps, in rotting logs and under woodpiles. When they invade homes, acrobat ants often nest in damp areas such as in foam sheathing behind siding, and they even have been found nesting in roofing near a leaking skylight.
Acrobat ants often nest in wood that termites or carpenter ants have damaged. It is common for acrobat ants to clean out the galleries that other insects have made in the wood. They push the dirt or wood scraps out of the galleries. Sometimes homeowners find this debris and think there is an active termite infestation.
Acrobat ants normally eat insects and honeydew, a sugary waste excreted by sap-feeding insects like aphids. Acrobat ants protect the aphids that produce the honeydew. If acrobat ants come into a home, they usually prefer sweets and meat.
The acrobat ant workers enter homes in several ways. Sometimes they make a trail across the ground. Door thresholds and construction gaps are common entryways. Workers can also follow tree limbs or shrubs that touch the house. They have even made their trails on utility lines. The ants can enter the home through the same opening that pipes or wires go through.
Not much is known about the biology of acrobat ants. Like many other ants, they produce winged males and females called swarmers which fly out of the nest and mate. The mated females then disperse and become queens of their own colonies. Queens begin laying eggs which, in turn, are tended by workers.
It may be necessary to trim shrubs or tree limbs to stop acrobat ants from invading. Check attic vents and repair any damaged screens. Caulk openings around pipes and utility lines. (Do not handle electric wires; contact the utility company or an electrician.) Move firewood piles away from the home. It may even be necessary to remove a tree stump that the ants have used for a nesting site.
Because the nest can be difficult to locate, it is usually preferable to let a pest control professional treat an acrobat ant infestation.
More Information on Acrobat Ants