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PAVEMENT ANTS

Pavement Ant

Tetramorium caespitum (Linnaeus)

Pavement Ant Elimination, Biology, Habits


Biology and Habits
Pavement Ant Description
Ant Bed Description
Colony Structure
Pavement Ant: Foraging, Food Preferences

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Pavement Ant Description:  Pavement Ants are small pests (ranging from 1/10 to 1/16 inches in length) that can be found in many parts of the United States, as far north as Canada and as far south as Florida.  These pests also thrive in parts of California, Mid-West and Southeastern United States.  Each individual colony contains thousands of workers, multiple queens and is usually located at one particular site; White Footed Ants and Carpenter Ants can have satellite colonies or build huge nests that cover hundreds of feet.

This is a two-node ant (has two segments or nodes on its pedicel) and is dark brown in color.   Its antennae has 12 segments (which ends in a 3 segmented club) and its thorax has one set of spines.  The first physical characteristic noticed (when viewed under a microscope or 30x lens) is the lines which seem to have been sculptured on the ant's head.   These grooves are evident on the head and thorax.  (See image of ant; click on thumbnail to enlarge image.)

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Ant Bed Description:  The pavement ant earns its name well, building nests beneath and along the sides of pavement: patios, driveways, sidewalks, foundations of homes.  These pests can also be found inside of homes (and other structures) in wall voids, beneath toilets and water heaters.  They also will readily nest in and beneath insulation in walls and attics.  Outdoors, you will see pavement ants nesting beneath mulch, landscaping, stones and logs, and also along curbs.
The ant beds usually appear as piles of misplaced soil, without a distinctive appearance such as that of the Fireant or Allegheny Mound Ant.  These loose piles of soil occasionally will have a slight crater appearance, resembling the smaller mound of the Pyramid Ant, which always builds a small, crater-shaped mound.

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Colony Structure:  Each colony of pavement ants contains thousands of workers and multiple queens.  Swarming of reproductives can take place any time of the year but usually takes place in the Spring.  These swarmers can pose a problem, which will be discussed in Pavement Ant Elimination.  If contributing conditions (heat, humidity, etc.) are not at favorable levels, a few swarmers can be seen in several successive days.  This seemingly "endless" swarm cycle often alarms residents and office workers alike.  With colony population numbering in the thousands, the amount of swarming reproductives can be remarkable.

Foraging, Food Preferences:   Pavement Ants are active foragers who will set up trails along baseboards, beneath the edges of carpets, beneath toilets and other areas inside a structure.   Worker ants will also readily move to different rooms and floors via plumbing lines.  These lines not only provide a "highway" but also entry points, moisture source and (in cold seasons) heat.  The small ants feed on a variety of foods, including grease, sweets, seeds and dead insects.  Pet foods or any food dropped on the floor will quickly covered with pavement ants.  They also feed on the honeydew produced by aphids and are an occasional pest of vegetable gardens.   Aphids on ornamental plants can be one of many sources to seek and eliminate, as mentioned in inspecting for pavement ants and pavement ant elimination.

Inspecting for Ant Beds
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Pavement ants can often be seen foraging outdoors during daylight hours, but more ant trails can be observed after dark.
Upon initial inspection, the soil displaced by a pavement ant colony is usually quite evident around any outdoor concrete object: curbs, driveways, sidewalks, landscaping, brick patios, etc.  In many cases, the loose soil can be seen along cracks or expansion joints of driveways and other such objects.  Their colonies can also be found adjacent to the foundations or skirting of homes.  When trying to locate all possible outdoor colonies, use a small hand rake to gently pull back mulching materials to expose the ants.  Inspect around the edges of (and beneath, if possible) any logs or large rocks.  In a sense, leave no stone unturned.  In severe infestations, a number of objects can harbor many different pavement ant colonies.  Each of these colonies or ant beds need to be located and treated in order to kill pavement ants and to stop their migration indoors.
When inspecting for ant trails indoors, look for foraging pests along all baseboards, near or around toilets and plumbing, and look beneath the edges of carpeting.  If ant trails are found, they will need to be treated.  This will be discussed further in ant elimination.
In structures which utilize drop or false ceilings, inspect above the ceilings for workers and swarmers.  In these cases, the swarmers will often be attracted to light fixtures in the ceiling.  Another area that needs inspecting is beneath or in attic insulation.

Pavement Ant Elimination
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Before choosing a product or method for eliminating pavement ant colonies, a thorough inspection must be made, both indoors and out.  A night time inspection will reveal more foraging ants, making your job easier.  Follow any foraging ants back to their colonies.

Colonies located in wall voids can be treated by injecting a professional insecticide dust such as Delta Dust or Drione Dust; Delta Dust (being water-proof) is best for killing ants which live or forage close to plumbing lines or other areas associated with moisture.

Locate and drench all visible, outdoor ant beds.  Products containing either Cypermethrin (Cynoff, Demon, Cyper Eight, Viper) or Bifenthrin (Talstar) work best.  These products can also be used in your indoor control of pavement ants, roaches, spiders and other household pests.

Talstar products cannot be shipped to MA, NY, NJ,
CT, VT, HI, CA, AK
Demon, Cynoff cannot be shipped to
NY, NJ, CT, AK
Drione Dust cannot be shipped to AK
Maxforce products cannot be shipped to AK
Cypermethrin 4 Ounce Cannot be shipped to AK, CA,
HI, ND, NY, TN, WI

Indoors, spray baseboards or other areas with Cynoff, Demon, (Cypermethrin) or Talstar  where ant activity is noted.  Keep people and pets off all treated surfaces (indoors and outdoors) until product has been allowed to dry.

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 Pavement Ant