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Pavement ants may be the most common indoor pest in Maine. They are an invasive species, originating in Europe and now widely spread across the United States.
Worker pavement ants are uniformly small, about 3mm long. They are dark brown to black in color with a shiny gaster. There are striations on the head and dorsal surface of their thorax and their 12-segmented antennae end in a 3-segmented club. Foraging ants are usually active on the floor and along the edge of the walls near door frames. During warmer days a number of winged male and female ants may swarm inside and they are usually trapped near a window as they try to escape towards the sun.
They become pests when nesting in a building to be closer to a food source, and sometimes by building nest openings between bricks of patios or other sensitive areas.
Pavement ants in nature occur primarily in open meadows under rocks and other debris. In more urban settings, pavement ants nest under sidewalks, under building foundations and under patios, usually near cracks through which they can enter the building. There is normally a single queen although larger colonies may have additional queens. The workers live for several years and the largest colonies can exceed 10,000 workers.
Indoors, pavement ants will nest under floors, within walls and inside insulation. They prefer to nest near heat sources during winter and are often seen in the walls of ground-level masonry. Pavement ants also follow pipes, which they use to access upper floors of homes and buildings.
Pavement ants are not a threat to the structure of buildings and homes. Pavement ants can be annoying but don’t bite or spread diseases.
Inspecting for Pavement Ants
Start inspections at the ground floor or sub-floor level because the pavement ant often originates outdoors at ground level. Follow trails of ants to locate colony/colonies. Outside, trails are usually hidden by grass or mulch next to the building foundation or the edges of pavement. Inside, you can often find trails under edges of carpets along the tack strip. Pavement ants utilize electrical wires, conduit, and water pipes as highways throughout the building. Performing an inspection at night around 10 or 11 PM can be useful since pavement ants are most active at night. Outside, piles of soil near slabs and concrete are a good indication of underground galleries.
Preventative measures include:
Carpenter ants cause considerable damage to buildings and should be eliminated when found in buildings. They are usually black and tend to be somewhat large (up to 1/2" long). Carpenter ants are often encountered in trees, stumps, and rotting logs outdoors but will come into schools buildings in search of food, water and nesting sites.
Outdoors. All ants can bite when disturbed therefore, ant nests sometimes present a hazard to children on playgrounds. This is especially true for the European red ant, a species found in a few isolated coastal locations in Maine, including Mount Desert Island and Cape Elizabeth. These ants cause a very painful bite thereby presenting a special concern if found on school grounds. Seek assistance from a pest control professional for treatment of European red ant nests.
For other ant nests found on school grounds where children are at risk from bites, the following method can be used.
Anyone making pesticide applications on school property must be
Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org
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