Whenever you notice a trail of ants entering and exiting your home, you can't help but wonder--where do they come from? How did they manage to locate your home? Knowing where they come from and where their favorite hiding spots are key to keeping them out of our spaces. So, where are black ants usually found? We have researched the answers for you.
Black ants are typically found in industrial areas where they nest on dark and unprotected crevices. They are attracted to moisture, so you can also find them under logs, leaves, and soil. Indoors, they are more likely to build satellite colonies on wall voids and behind baseboards in moisture-rich areas like kitchens and bathrooms.
Small ants are just as much of a nuisance as big ants. They generally have similar environment preferences, so it should be easy to locate them. Eliminating them, however, could be another matter entirely. Keep reading below to learn more about where black ants come from and how to stop them from entering your home.
What are the Big Ants in Your House?
The big black critters trailing in your home are called carpenter ants. Their name comes from their behavior of chewing on wood to create a tunnel where they nest, which is dangerous since they can compromise your home's structural integrity.
You can easily identify them through their size, although you may confuse them for termites. Their distinction is that they can grow to 1/2-inch long and with segmented bodies. They also have a slim waist and bent antennae.
Signs of Carpenter Ant Infestation
Most of the carpenter ants you see in your home are worker ants who collect scraps of food to feed to their queen. If you notice wood shavings peppered across your window sills and floors, you most likely have a carpenter ant infestation.
These ants hide well, but they won't be able to hide their trail completely.
Aside from wood shavings, listen for crackling sounds inside your wall voids, and observe if there are areas in your home with dead insect carcasses. Carpenter ant workers are omnivores; they eat vegetables, sweets, protein, and other insects.
What Do Carpenter Ants Like To Eat?
Contrary to their name, carpenter ants do not eat wood--they only chew on them to create nests. Carpenter ants, just like other species, like to feed on sweets, protein, and grease.
This is also why you should protect your indoor plants with a natural pesticide--during ant infestation, they will chew on everything including your greenery. Fruits and vegetables that aren't sealed in the fridge can also be chewed on by carpenter ants or brought into their colony.
How to Prevent Ants from Contaminating Food
Although black ants are generally harmless, they carry diseases from crawling in every kind of soil and hunting for food every day. They can contaminate your food easily, so it's important to discourage them away from your kitchen space.
- Keep all produce sealed in airtight containers.
- Wipe spilled juices and crumbs away immediately. Not doing so will signal other ants from coming into the space and collecting more food for the colony.
- Seal cracks on doors, walls, windows, and floors.
- Spray the area with natural deterrents
- Throw the trash away once it's been filled up with leftover food so the ants won't get attracted to it.
- Relocate your main trash bin away from your house since ants can also hunt their food there. Leftover food should either be sealed and disposed of properly or put into a compost pit.
What are the Small Ants in Your House?
Little black ants are tougher to spot since they are smaller than other ant species. However, they often come in a long trail especially if you have an infestation, so you can have a better idea of where they come from to block them.
Just like other ant species, they prefer to nest in humid places--outdoors or indoors, whichever can make them thrive more. If you notice them trailing inside your house, it may be an indication that they are already nesting somewhere.
Why are Small Ants Nesting in Your House?
The reason they nest in a particular house is that they probably saw it teeming with food. This means, you may have carelessly left your food sitting somewhere for long periods, or you haven't had the chance to clean up properly.
They could also have become attracted to the amount of humidity in your home. If you live in a warm area, this may be unavoidable at times. You can find them in your bathroom or inside cabinets where moisture is likely to collect.
Do Little Black Ants Cause Damage?
Little black ants by themselves do not cause too much damage. However, it depends on the level of infestation present in your house.
Most little black ants form colonies with more than one queen. This results in faster reproduction, which in turn results in more workers hunting for food inside and outside your home. Each colony will leave pheromone trails, which signal other ants to infest your home.
When that happens, the swarms of ants can make your home unappealing to stay in. They could also contaminate your food, creating more waste than necessary.
When you start noticing that these black ants are starting to take over your life despite preventative measures, it's time to call a professional exterminator and have them treat the nest.
How to Avoid Little Black Ants from Infesting Your Home
As with all infestations, prevention is better than cure. Here are ways to discourage ants from entering your home.
- Remove firewood and rotting wood from your house
- Clear away piles of wet leaves
- Caulk your windows and close even the smallest cracks
- Keep your mulch below two inches thick and keep it away from your house's exterior.
- Trim overgrown grass surrounding your house
- Spray your garden with natural pesticides such as neem oil
Do Some Black Ants Fly?
Some species of carpenter ants can fly. These carpenter ants are called swarmers, and they are in charge of finding mates to build new colonies. Male carpenter ants have wings, as well as potential queens, but the queen loses hers when she starts a new nest.
The queen will only start producing swarmers once the colony matures, which takes about two years.
Once that happens, the male swarmers will mate with other female swarmers, and each female swarmer will be forming another nest as the queen. The male swarmers will die off subsequently since their only purpose was to impregnate future queens.
When Does the Swarming Season Start?
The mating season for carpenter ants starts from early spring to late fall. Their mating is generally triggered by the weather--they mate when the weather is warm and humid when it is easier to fly around and search for potential queens.
The mating season stops when the weather turns colder as this is the time when the ants will burrow deep into their nests where they have stored their food to survive the fall-winter season.
They will also be protecting their queen during this time by huddling next to her so that she will be ready to produce more workers for the colony next season.
Which are Bigger -- Female or Male Swarmers?
Female swarmers are bigger than male swarmers. This is because they will be producing worker ants in the future as queens of their colony. Their size spans up to 15 millimeters in length.
After mating, the queen loses her wings by biting them off herself.
Knowing the behavior of various ant species is key to managing them effectively. As always, keeping your space clean is essential if you don't want an infestation. However, if it happens unexpectedly, there could be a nest that has been formed nearby.
If the infestation becomes unbearable, contact pest control services immediately.
If you enjoyed this article, check out "Does Boric Acid Kill Subterranean Termites?" or "Does Vinegar Kill Springtails?"