Formica exsectoides Forel
Allegheny mound ants resemble carpenter ants in coloration, but have an uneven thorax, setting them apart from their wood-nesting cousins. The head and thorax of the worker are red and the abdomen and legs are black. The Allegheny Mound Ant has many different sizes of workers, varying from 1/8 to 1/4 inch in length. Its single node has a peculiar "peak." This ant has 12 segments in its antennae (with no club) and a circle of hairs at the tip of its abdomen.
The Allegheny Mound Ant belongs to the genus Formica which contains many species that are referred to as "field ants." Field ants prefer to build large soil mounds in shady areas. The range of the Allegheny mound ant covers most of New England, the Midwest area and is found as far south as Georgia.
Building the largest mound among all field ants, the Allegheny mound ant has often been mistakenly identified as an imported fire ant, which also builds large soil mounds. These mounds are commonly found in suburban area lawns that are located close to wooded areas and empty fields.
The large mounds are home to huge numbers of ants, multiple queens and (in many cases) are often linked with other mounds, forming super colonies. This characteristic resembles the linked colonies of Carpenter ants in nature. But (unlike the Carpenter ant) Allegheny Mound Ants rarely invade structures.
The Allegheny mound ant's diet includes insects (dead and alive) and the honeydew produced by aphids, scale and mealybugs found in trees. This widely varied diet ensures appropriate food supplies for the large number of ants in each colony. Because of the voracious appetite of the ant colony, the Allegheny mound ant is an important link in nature's scheme, holding insect populations in check and disposing of dead insects. However, parents should eliminate colonies in areas where children are present. A small child falling into one of these huge mounds would be bitten by the disturbed ants defending their colony.
New colonies of these ants are produced by swarming reproductives.
Locating the nest (or nests) of the Allegheny Mound Ant is not too difficult. Their large mounds are easily identifiable. After locating obvious mounds (in lawns and adjacent fields,) inspect nearby vegetation; ant mounds can often be found in ground cover such as Ivy and also beneath small trees and shrubs. Make a thorough inspection of the property. Look for newly formed mounds which might go unnoticed in tall grass, weeds and along fence rows.
Although certain baits have been used with limited results in Allegheny Mound Ant elimination, better ant control can be attained through mound drenching. The best active ingredient for drenching Allegheny Mound Ants (and other large mounds) is Cypermethrin. Cypermethrin is the active ingredient in Demon EC, Demon WP, Cynoff EC and Cynoff WP insecticides. These products are odorless and safe to use in and around homes, families and pets when used as directed. Follow label instructions for mixing and keep pets and children off of treated areas until dry. These guidelines are for all pesticides! If you call a professional pest control operator to rid your home of ants, roaches, spiders or other pests, he or she will more than likely use one of these ant control products. Demon EC, Demon WP, Cynoff EC and Cynoff WP cannot be shipped to NY, NJ, CT, VT, AK
Small mounds (a few inches in diameter) can be eliminated by removing the spray tip from you garden sprayer, then slowly drench the mound with low pressure and high volume of Cynoff or Demon. Larger mounds are easier to eliminate by drenching with a 5 gallon bucket or watering can. A mound of one foot in diameter will require about one gallon of solution. Do not use high pressure spraying to eliminate these ants; they will only escape and rebuild their mounds!