Small Honey Ants

SCIENTIFIC NAME

Prenolepis imparis

APPEARANCE

Small honey ant workers are typically glossy variations of light and dark browns or black. They are about 0.08 to 0.2-inch long. Workers have a triangular-shaped abdomen that has a circle of hairs at the tip.

BEHAVIOR, DIET & HABITS

These ants are also referred to as cold weather ants since they are very cold weather tolerant and often are the first ant species to send out active foragers from the nest during the cold weather months. During hot weather, they spend much of their time in below-ground nests that might be up to several feet deep. They are strongly prone to using foraging trails, normally nest outdoors in the soil, but may also actively forage for and feed upon sweets inside. Their foraging trails are normally easy to locate. The small honey ant is a nuisance ant that causes no structural damage to homes or commercial buildings, and they do not bite or sting.

Small honey ants construct their nests in open, shaded areas and may also nest in soil under shrubs, flower and garden beds, logs or stones. Nests have many small galleries excavated in the soil with the excavated soil particles placed in a crater-shaped mound. Small honey ants prefer sweets and aphids for the honeydew they produce. However, if sweet substances are not sufficient to support a nest outdoors, workers may also forage inside for food and are known to actually build indoor nests. Still another location for small honey ant nests is the soil of potted plants.

REPRODUCTION

The small honey ant colonies usually have one active queen. During the spring months, outdoors and during the cold weather months indoors, mating takes place. In the northern portion of the small honey ant’s distribution, a mated queen sheds her wings, finds suitable shelter and begins a new colony of her own. In the southern portion of their range, several fertile females that have all chosen the same nest site may start a colony.

SIGNS OF AN INFESTATION

Indicators of a small honey ant infestation include live or dead ants, the cone-shaped nests on the ground, winged males and females and trailing ants.

DISTRIBUTION

Small honey ants are native to the United States from the Canadian border to Nebraska, south to Texas and Florida and in New Mexico, California, Oregon and Washington.

OTHER INFORMATION

Your pest management professional (PMP) has the knowledge and suitable tools to conduct small honey ant control. The first thing your PMP will do is to inspect your property both inside and outside to determine where ants are nesting and foraging. After the inspection, your PMP will prepare a pest management plan that will involve using preventive measures to exclude ants from getting inside, removing habitat sources for the ants, as well as using control products such as ant baits and insecticide sprays.