Two Ohio Ants You Need to Know About

As the weather warms, the ant activity in your Ohio yard and property is likely to increase. If you aren’t diligent however, ants can become a serious problem for you and your family. In fact, ants are among the most annoying household pests in Ohio, especially when invading homes. Thankfully, the ants found here are not known to as aggressive biters or stingers like the fire ants found in the southern states. Ohio is, instead, home to carpenter ants and pavement ants, which present their own unique challenges. Keeping ant populations in check is difficult, but with professional help it can be accomplished.

How to Tell Which Ant Species Is Invading Your Home

You may notice ant activity outdoors under stones, in pavement cracks, along the curb edges and in crevices of masonry and woodwork. Inside, they can be found in any area, but are often seen in the kitchen. As mentioned, there are two specific ant species that most Ohio residents have to deal with. Knowing which species you have in your home or yard is the first step towards getting them under control.

Carpenter Ants in Ohio

Carpenter ants are so-named because they excavate galleries in wood to construct their ideal nest sites. The worker ants use their strong jaws (mandibles) to remove portions of the wood as they create and expand the size of their nests. Like termites, carpenter ants can cause serious structural issues to your home if they are not properly dealt with.

These black ants are the largest ant species found in Ohio with winged queens reaching 3/4 inch long, winged males at 5/8 inch, large major workers 1/2 inch, and small minor workers 1/4 inch. They have an evenly rounded, arched thorax, when viewed from the side, a single node between the thorax and abdomen, and a fringe of hairs around the anal opening at the tip of the abdomen. Carpenter ant workers have large heads and a small thorax.

Although carpenter ants are primarily active during the warmer spring and summer months, a colony may well be active in the winter months if it is located in an adequately heated area with the right moisture levels. A black carpenter ant colony reaches maturity at between 3.5 to 4 years. These mature colonies can contain anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 individuals and will also produce swarmers annually, which further increases the problem.

Carpenter ants usually construct two unique types of nests: the main nest and one (or more) satellite nests. The main nest is where the queen, eggs and small larvae live and satellite nests house larger larvae and pupae. The main nest is most often established in damp, decayed wood, for example, in the cavities found in hardwood trees, although they can sometimes be found in softwoods. The main criteria for the main nest is that the wood has a moisture content of more than 15%.  Thus, they are found in wood that has suffered damage caused by rain, leaks, and condensation.

Carpenter ants are omnivorous, which means their diet consists of both plant and animal materials, including insects, fruits, plant juices, as well as human food like honey, jelly, sugar, syrup, meats, grease, and fat. Among workers, one of the preferred foods is honeydew, a sugary substance excreted by aphids and scale insects.

Pavement Ants in Ohio

This is one of the most common house-invading ants in Ohio. As you may suspect due to their name, pavement ants generally nest outdoors in the cracks that form in pavement, under sidewalks, cement slabs, bricks, stones, patio blocks, and along curbs. Unfortunately, pavement ants also find their way inside of homes and other buildings as they forage for food. Once inside they may start to build a cozy nest behind walls, under floors, and in insulation.

These little ants usually have brown to black bodies with paler legs and antennae. Typically they are about 1/16 of an inch to 1/8 of an inch long, but the queens are much larger than the rest of the colony at 3/8 of an inch long. They have striations on their head and surface of their thorax.  They also have 12-segmented antennae that end in a 3-segmented club.

Pavement ants are typically active from late winter through late fall. Like many other ants, they fly for mating most in the spring and early summer, especially after it rains. In winter, nests may be found in homes, usually near a heat source. However, pavement ants may forage indoors throughout the year, feeding on grease, meat, insects, honeydew, roots of plants, and planted seeds. Foraging ants are usually found crawling on the floor and along the edge of the walls near door frames.

Luckily, pavement ants can’t really bite or sting humans. However, they are considered a nuisance since they like to build nest openings between bricks of patios or other sensitive areas. With as many as 10,000 workers in each nest, they are very territorial. In fact, ant colonies often have large battles on the sidewalk in the spring,leaving hundreds of ants left to die on the battlefield.

How to Manage Ants in and Around Your Ohio Home

Once you have identified the ant species that’s invading your space, you’ll want to take steps to eliminate them. But, be aware that it can be difficult to treat an ant infestation safely and accurately. Over-the-counter pest control products are often ineffective and potentially dangerous. In fact, most ant treatments will only affect the foragers and the colony stays safe.

For effective ant control and minimal risk to your family’s health and well-being, it’s always best to call a pest control specialist like Lu-Crest Pest Control. We will find the carpenter ants in your home, track down their nests, and apply the most effective and safe products to ensure the colony is destroyed. This may involve spraying outside to stop them from coming in and/or spraying inside and baiting. We are also able to prevent future issues with preventative year-round spraying. We are also adept at  pretreating the area for pavement ants before building a new home or other structure and when pouring concrete pads, sidewalks, and driveways to reduce pavement ant infestations.

Request an appointment today with one of our pest control specialists and enjoy an ant-free summer indoors and out. Call (419) 938-8533 or contact us to get started.

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Sean Ramey

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