Tiny Thief Ants Can Easily Invade Homes Through Narrow Cracks, And They Often Nest Within Basements, Under Baseboards And Within Crawlspaces
Solenopsis molesta is an ant pest species that often invades homes throughout the eastern US, as well as some western states. This species is better known as the “thief ant,” which is a common name that originates from this species’ habit of sneaking into other ant nests in order to steal broods. Thief ants are also known for entirely destroying small ant colonies, and even red-imported fire ants make an effort to avoid nesting near thief ant colonies. Every year between July and September, and usually between 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM, reproductive thief ant swarmers (alates) emerge from existing colonies in order to mate in the air before landing to establish a new colony as queen and king.
Thief ant workers usually forage during the afternoons, which explains why these ants are often found indoors at this time, but on particularly warm and clear nights, workers may forage all night long. In urban and suburban areas, thief ants are opportunistic feeders that have been documented as consuming a variety of human foods, such as meats, sweets, vegetables, fruits, breads, animal fats, dairy products and grease, which is why these ants are sometimes referred to as grease ants. Thief ants generally nest outdoors, but they often establish nests within homes and buildings. These ants are very common throughout Pennsylvania.
Thief ants usually invade homes during periods of warm weather, and their relatively small size allows them to easily sneak into houses, and pantries where they will not hesitate to consume stored foods. In fact, thief ants are one of the most common and dangerous insect pests of food products, as the Food and Drug Administration placed this species on its list of the 22 most significant insect pests that spread food-borne pathogens. This list is known as “the dirty 22.” The indoor areas where thief ants commonly establish nests include basements, beneath floorboards and within wall-voids. Thief ants are well controlled with professional grade baits.
Have you ever found ants in your pantry?
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