Behaviour and Biology
Just as the name implies, these ants are found outside in the cracks of pavement, including driveways, sidewalks patios or along foundations. Once established, pavement ants tend to make their way inside structures, via any existing cracks in or near the foundation. Once inside, they nest in walls, insulation, near heat sources or under floors, particularly on the ground level of a home. A telltale sign that you might have pavement ants, other than seeing the ants themselves, is the sand or dirt piles they tend to push out of the cracks and crevices they nest in. Pavement ants are light brown to black in colour, and very small (no more than 1/8” (4 mm) long) in size. Colonies vary in size, from a few dozen up to 4,000 ants, including the eggs, larvae, pupae and queen(s) in the nest, as well as the workers that wonder outside the nest, searching for food. You may also notice some ants with wings, these are known as the “reproductives”, and usually appear outside in June and July.
Pavement ants will feed on anything, including household foods such as meats, grease, nuts, cheese, honey and bread. As a result of their food preferences, it is common to find them throughout kitchen or pantry cupboards, and in many of the foods that are stored in those cupboards. In addition to attacking food products, pavement ants also have the ability to bite and sting people or pets.
The key to controlling pavement ants is to determine where the nest(s) are. Once identified, treating with an appropriately labeled insecticide in the cracks and crevices leading to the nest(s) is the technique. There are various formulations available, in the form of baits, granulars, dusts and emulsifiable concentrates. We recommend a bait treatment as the best control strategy, although this can be very challenging in getting ants to accept the bait product applied. Baiting offers the ability for the worker ants to carry the product back to the nesting sites, as well as the ability to administer product without the need for people or pets to leave the premises. Multiple applications are usually necessary for effective control, and the ability to improve the probability of bait acceptance. Limited formulations and active ingredients are available for the do-it-yourselfers, and if applied strategically, control can be achieved. Please note that some insecticide applications in certain municipalities may not be permitted.