Little black ants get their name from their small size and shiny dark brown to jet black color. Adult ants are 1/16 of an inch long while queens are twice that size at ⅛ inch in length. Their antennae are 12-segmented with a three-segmented club. Little black ants have two nodes and a small weak stinger.
This ant is native to North America and found in the northeastern U.S. to the Pacific Coast and south to Mexico. It is a common structural pest in the south-central U.S. from West Tennessee to Central Texas.
Little Black Ant Life Stages
Little black ant colonies may contain several queens and be heavily populated. The reproduction cycle of this species is between the queens and the winged male called a “drone.” Little black ants undergo complete metamorphosis, passing through a sequence of four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.
Colonies consist almost exclusively of workers and brood (eggs, larvae and pupae) during most of the year, but winged males and females are produced during the summer months. Mating occurs in flight with a queen and one winged male. After the mating ritual, the queen falls to the ground and seeks out a location for a new nest.
Threats of Little Black Ants
Although little black ants possess a stinger, it is often too small to do any damage. Indoor colonies may nest in the voids of walls and cabinets, as well as within and behind foundations and brick or stone veneer. Little black ants are omnivorous and resourceful at finding food. They feed on insects, sweets, bread, grease, bird feces and have been known to eliminate small red imported fire ant colonies.
Little Black Ant Extermination & Control
Little black ant infestations are not typically the result of indoor colonies. Usually the ants are nesting outdoors and coming into the home or structure to forage for food. Little black ants are persistent pests and can be tricky to eradicate. Follow these treatment methods and prevention tips to avoid an infestation in your home:
- Pick up rocks, debris and lumber around the home to eliminate nesting sites.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the home.
- Seal cracks and crevices in foundation with a silicone-based caulk.
- Keep shrubbery and tree branches well trimmed and away from the home.
- Clean up food sources such as sugary spills, grease splatter, and crumbs.
- Spray blue window cleaner on trailing ants on kitchen counters, bathrooms and walls and wipe up with paper towels.
- Treat ant trails with peppermint oil, vinegar, cinnamon or baking soda. Ants don’t like the scent and will go out of their way to avoid contact.
- Ants love pet food. Pick up pet bowls after feeding and clean area.
- Reduce moisture and standing water around your home.
- Store food in airtight containers and keep ripe fruit in the refrigerator.