Two colonies of pavement ants

The pavement ant is named for its habit of nesting under and next to pavement.

Why are pavement ants a problem? 

Pavement ants enter homes and businesses in high numbers looking for food, water and shelter. They are avid foragers and will return to your home or business season after season unless you can eliminate the colony.

What do pavement ants look like?

Pavement ants have key characteristics:

  • Size: 2.5 to 3 mm or 1/8 inch
  • Colour range: dark brown to black
  • Distinguishing features: legs typically are lighter in colour; the head and thorax (upper body) have visible grooves; the thorax has a single pair of spines.

 

What should I know about pavement ants?

To get rid of pavement ants, it helps to know how they live and behave:

  • A pavement ant colony can contain more than 10,000 ants. Typically, a colony has one queen.
  • Pavement ants prefer to live in environments modified by humans. They tend to nest under and next to stones, sidewalks, driveways, and foundations.
  • Pavement ants are omnivores.  Outdoors, they eat sweet honeydew (made from plant sap by aphid, mealybug and scale insects), seeds, pollen and dead insects. Indoors, they are attracted to greasy and sweet foods, including pet food. They also seek out indoor water sources.
  • The ants will travel up to 9 metres or 30 feet from the nest in search of food and water. Once they locate food, pavement ants form direct trails from nest to food and back. The ants commonly trail along baseboards and carpet edges but also will travel vertically on wires and pipes. They are most active at night. As such, this is a good time to inspect for pavement ants and to follow their trails back to the nest. Get tips for how to follow ant trails.
  • Winged pavement ants may be noticed during mating season, which occurs outside in late spring / early summer or year-round when the ants are nesting indoors. The winged ants are attracted to light and may be found on windowsills.
  • Pavement ants build nests indoors to escape the winter cold and to find food. The ant is native to Europe.

 

Where are pavement ants found indoors?

Pavement ants forage for food and water in kitchens and bathrooms, where pets eat, and where pet food is stored. As such, look for pavement ants in and under sinks and bathtubs, around toilets, in food and pet food cupboards, pet bowls, in and near appliances, on countertops and near door thresholds.

Pavement ants build nests inside near a source of heat, such as heat ducts and radiators, and usually at ground level. The ants may emerge from heating ducts, expansion joints, along masonry or from under baseboards. Small piles of excavated soil are signs of pavement ant activity. Nests also may be in walls, insulation and under floors and carpet.

 

Where are pavement ants found outdoors?

Outside, pavement ant nests are found near or under sidewalks, driveways, patio blocks, and foundations. Mounds of excavated soil are a good indication of a pavement ant nest.  The ants also may nest in masonry, rotting wood, leaf litter, mulch, and under anything touching the ground.

Pavement ant colonies are known to compete for territory, and it is common to see masses of pavement ants fighting along sidewalks and driveways in spring and summer.

 

How do pavement ants get into the house?

Pavement ants get into a house or commercial building through cracks in foundation walls, cracks in concrete slab foundations, expansion joints, and gaps around windows and doors. Read our expert guide: How to Keep Ants Out.

 

What are the best ant killers for pavement ants?

To eliminate pavement ants, use a combination of DIY ant control products:

Ant trapsAnt traps (also called ant bait stations) are filled with an insecticide bait. Foraging ants take bait back to the colony where it is shared among the workers, larvae (baby ants) and queen.  Ant traps are designed for indoor or outdoor use. Learn more about ant stations and how to use them.

Diatomaceous Earth – Often called DE ant powder or DE ant dust, this natural desiccant kills ants by drying them out. It is applied to indoor areas where ants are active. The ants walk through the DE, which scratches the waxy outer layer of their exoskeleton. This causes the ant to dry out and die. DE will not kill the colony, but it will reduce the number of foraging ants. Learn more about DE and how to apply it.

Ant repellents – Available as aerosols, foam, and organic and non-organic sprays, these products kill ants on contact and are most effective when applied directly to the ant nest. They also create a defensive barrier that pavement ants will not cross. 

 

 

Also read:

5 Steps to Get Rid of Ants for Good

7 Common Ant Pest in Canada

Why Do I Have Ants?

How to Inspect for Ants

How to Follow an Ant Trail

The Best DIY Ant Killers in Canada

How to Keep Ants Out

How to Get Rid of Ants Outside

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