Where do pavement ants reside?
In the United States, pavement ants range west from New England to the Midwest and south down to the Mid-Atlantic States and Tennessee. The insects have also been found in California and Washington State.
What do pavement ants look like?
Worker pavement ants are about 2.5 to 4 millimeters in length. Their color ranges from dark brown to black.
Swarming or reproductive pavement ants are twice the size of the workers and have wings.
Both types of pavement ants have furrows along the head and thorax.
Pavement ant behavior
Little is known about how pavement ants live inside their colonies. Most of what is known comes from observations of the ants above ground.
In general, the reproductive ants swarm during the spring, though they can be seen at any time if their colony happens to be in a heated structure.
The swarming ants mate shortly after they emerge from the colony. Soon after, the queen ants burrow into the soil and lay eggs. The worker pavement ants hatch after two or three months.
The ants are called pavement ants because their colonies are often found beneath sidewalks, building slabs, and large rocks. The presence of such colonies can be spotted by piles of sand and small soil particles near cracks in sidewalks and home foundations. This debris is the result of pavement ants excavating to build their colonies.
Pavement ants will eat almost anything, particularly sweets and fruits. If a house or another building has a pavement ant colony, any scrap of food that falls to the floor will be collected and eaten.
Pavement ants are very aggressive, often moving to conquer nearby colonies. These attacks often result in pitched battles that leave thousands of ants dead.
Health issues from pavement ants
Pavement ants do not pose a direct threat to human health but have been known to contaminate food supplies.
Pavement ants fly into space
According to Discovery News, groups of pavement ants were taken to the International Space Station for experiments involving how they search out new areas in microgravity.
The ants were placed in a small habitat that consisted of a nesting area and two small chambers. The researchers opened a gate that allowed the ants to travel to the next chamber to see how they moved in a confined space. Then a barrier to the third chamber was removed to see how the ants moves in a less confined space.
The result was that the ants demonstrated a great deal of alacrity in moving in microgravity, even when they lost contact with surfaces. The ants were able to collectively search out the confined and the less confined space, albeit using a different pattern than on Earth. The study has applications in areas ranging from pest control to robotics.
Controlling pavement ants
For ants, Miller Pest and Termite uses a combination of liquid non-repellents, dust, and baits. Baits are particularly effective because workers will collect the contents of the baits and carry them into the colony. The queens are killed in short order, eliminating the colony and the infestation. Most commercially available pesticides are repellents that stress the colonies, causing them to split up and spread. You will often make the problem worse by using such products in an attempt to eliminate the infestation yourself.
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