Acrobat Ant: Facts, Identification & Control
Acrobat ants get their name from their habit of raising their abdomen above their head, especially when they are disturbed. When they are viewed from above, the abdomen is heart-shaped. There are several species of acrobat ants in the United States. Acrobat ants are small ants. Most species are less than 1/8 in length. Many give off a disgusting odor when disturbed.
Outdoors, acrobat ants nest under stones, in stumps, in rotting logs, and under woodpiles. When they invade homes, they often nest in wall voids or in foam sheathing behind siding. Homeowners often find bits of foam around the outside of the home, next to the foundation. The ants also nest in wood that has been damaged by moisture and fungus. Acrobat ants have been found nesting in roofing near a leaking skylight.
Acrobat ants often nest in wood that termites or carpenter ants have damaged. It is common for the acrobat ants to clean out the galleries that other insects made in the wood. They push the dirt or wood scraps out of the galleries. Sometimes homeowners find this debris and think there is an active termite infestation.
Ants leave an invisible chemical trail which contains pheromones for others to follow once they locate the food source.
Acrobat ants normally eat insects and honeydew. They protect the aphids that produce the honeydew. If acrobat ants come into a home, they seem to prefer sweets and meat.
The acrobat ant workers enter homes in several ways. Sometimes they make a trail across the ground. Door thresholds and weep holes are common entryways. Workers can also follow tree limbs or shrubs that touch the house. They have even made their trails on utility lines. The ants can enter the home through the same opening that pipes or wires go through.
Preventing acrobat ants begins with a thorough inspection. Sometimes there is evidence to show where they made their nest. For example, if there are bits of foam on the ground by the foundation, it may be a sign that acrobat ants are nesting behind the siding. Ants that are moving in a trail can lead to their nest and their food supply. It is very often necessary to correct a moisture problem before it is possible to eliminate acrobat ants.
It may be necessary to trim shrubs or tree limbs to stop acrobat ants from invading. Check attic vents and repair any damaged screens. Caulk openings around pipes and utility lines. (Do not handle electric wires; contact the utility company or an electrician.) Move firewood piles away from the home. It may even be necessary to remove a tree stump that the ants have used for a nesting site.
Because the nest can be difficult to locate, it is usually preferable to leave the treatment of acrobat ants to a pest control professional.