Citronella Ant: Facts, Identification & Control
The citronella ant gets its name from the lemon or citronella odor that people smell when they crush a worker. Some people call these ants large yellow ants because of their color. In some areas, people call them moisture ants. This may be because of the locations the ants choose for nesting.
There are several species of citronella ants. The most common is Acanthomyops interjectus (Mayr).
Citronella ants nest in the soil. Outdoors, they nest under logs and rocks and landscape timbers. They also nest beside foundations and inside of crawlspaces. They make mounds of soil while they dig their galleries underground.
They often make their nest under slabs and porches. Sometimes they push soil up through a crack in a slab while they nest underneath. Homeowners sometimes mistake this soil as a sign of termite activity.
Inside homes, they nest in areas of high moisture. They often nest in wood that has already been damaged by fungus or termites. If citronella ants invade a home, it may be a sign that there is a moisture problem inside. Finding and solving the moisture problem is a priority. If the ants are nesting in damaged wood, the wood can be replaced.
Citronella ants are active at night. They feed on honeydew that they get from insects that feed on plant roots. Because of this, people seldom see the workers.
Citronella ants often become a nuisance when the winged ants leave the colonies for their mating flight. Winged ants that emerge through a crack in a slab or a basement wall can be very distressing for the homeowners. These winged ants will not damage anything. A vacuum cleaner is the most effective way to remove them quickly.
Removing potential nesting sites can help discourage citronella ants. Firewood should be up off of the ground. Firewood stacks should be as far from the home as possible.
If the nest is outside, a liquid insecticide will be effective. If the nest is not found, bait will be the most effective treatment. This requires time and patience to determine which bait the ants prefer. If the ants have made their nest under a basement floor, it may be difficult to treat. However, if the entire colony is not eliminated, the population can rebound when the survivors resume their activities. It is advisable to call a pest control professional. They will have the equipment that is needed to make these treatments.