Pavement Ants, which usually make their homes in pavements, are small (1/8–1/16-inch long). They are black-brown ants, with paler legs and antennae. The abdomen is all black. They are distinguished by two spines on the back, two nodes on the petiole, and grooves on the head and thorax. The colonies can be moderately large. Swarmers usually appear in June or July; however, they have been reported at other times of the year.
The Pavement Ant diet consists of honeydew, insects, sweets, fruit, and greasy foods. They will also eat pet foods.
The Pavement Ant is found throughout the Atlantic coastal region, in the mid-western United States, and the West Coast. Sometimes they can also be found in the southern United States. As their name indicates, nests are found outside under cracks of pavement, under stones, and next to buildings. Occasionally they may be found in walls, under floors, and in insulation. If your home is a slab-on-grade construction, Pavement Ant foragers enter through cracks in slabs or other openings. They often enter buildings through expansion joints in slabs.
- They move in small motions
- Their trails are most easily spotted at night
- Look at plumbing pipes and electrical wires for their trails
- During the spring, are highly aggressive against other Ants
Pavement Ant Inspection to Locate Trails or Colonies
In order to properly bait with the recommended Ant baits, it is necessary to put the bait out near their colonies or trails. If you use the liquid insecticide method it is also necessary to know where to spray and/or drench.
Although you may observe these Ants trailing during the day, most observation will occur at night.
Pavement Ants will displace soil around concrete objects such as sidewalks, patios, driveways, curbs, etc. This displaced loose soil may be seen along the cracks or joints in the sidewalks or driveways.
Look for colonies around the foundations of your home. Also inspect around logs or large rocks.
Inside, look around baseboards, plumbing, sinks, toilets, and along the edges of carpets.
How to Get Rid of Pavement Ants
Unless you use a non-repellent spray, baiting is the preferred treatment over typical residual spraying. Baiting is the most reliable way to eliminate the entire colony. When choosing Ant baits, it is best to choose from both the sugar-based baits and protein/grease-based baits. If using a spray, choose a non-repellent type unless you are treating the nest itself.
Why Bait for Ant Control?
The use of residual sprays or dusts stress Ant colonies, causing them to split into sub-colonies and scatter. This scattering, also called budding, multiplies the number of Ant colonies, and thereby multiplies your Ant problem.
When you bait, use a slow-acting bait. Quick-kill insecticides and baits will only kill the foraging Ants, not allowing those worker Ants to take the bait back home to feed the queen, nest workers, and brood.
If the Ant bait that you are currently using is not effective (if the Ants are not visiting the bait) you will need to change the baits. Slow-acting baits provide a variety of the foods the Ants find in nature. Examples are: other insects (proteins/grease-based baits), nectar, aphid honeydew, and plant products (sugar and carbohydrates found in sweet-based baits).
Choosing a bait requires an understanding of the nutritional needs of the colony. To be sure that you have all the baiting needs met, you may want to be ready with a sugar/carbohydrate-based bait, a grease/fat-based bait, and a protein-based bait.
IMPORTANT NOTE: REMOVE ALL OTHER FOOD COMPETITION WHEN BAITING AND LEAVE THE BAIT ALONE ONCE THE ANTS START FEEDING ON IT.
Recommended Ant Baits
Sweet Feeding Cycles:
The powerful, slow-acting non-repellent active ingredient, thiamethoxam in Optigard Ant Gel knocks out workers, brood, and queens.
Baits that feed both Protein /Grease and Sweet cycles:
InVict AB Insect Paste is an all around insect bait containing 0.05% Abamectin (botanical insecticide)
Spraying for Odorous Ants with Non-Repellents
The best insecticides for Ant control are non-repellent insecticides such as Taurus SC, Termidor SC, Optigard Flex, Alpine Aerosol, and Phantom Aerosol. Termidor SC and Taurus SC are labeled for inside usage.
Unless you can treat the nest directly, spraying is not an effective solution for Odorous House Ants, unless you use a non-repellent insecticide or "undetectable" liquid treatments such as Phantom Aerosol or Alpine Aerosols (both labeled for inside use). Optigard Flex is another very good non-repellent, also labeled for inside use and very effective against Odorous Ants.
Unlike older insecticides, non-repellent insecticides can't be smelled, tasted, or even felt by pests. They crawl through the treated area, and ingesting treated materials or merely contacting the residual insecticide results in their eventual death. This type of control is incompatible with treatments such as repellent sprays that prevent workers from delivering the non-repellent insecticide residue to the nest.