Facts, Identification & Control
When acrobat ants feel threatened, they raise their abdomen over the head and thorax as a sign of defence. The acrobatic configuration resembles that of a scorpion’s arched tail and gives the species its name. Various species of acrobat ants can be found throughout North America. They nest and shelter under rocks and wood, as well as in walls and structures already damaged by wood-boring insects, moisture, or fungi. As such, acrobat ants are often considered structure infesting ants.
Appearance / Identification
Various species of acrobat ants exist throughout the world and differ slightly in appearance. Nevertheless, most acrobat ant workers range from 2 to 4 mm in length, while the queens can be as long as 11 mm. The abdomen is distinctively heart shaped and is joined to the thorax by two node segments. Two backwards pointing spines can be seen on the thorax. Acrobat ants possess a stinger but it is not always visible. Besides rising up their abdomens, some species produce a foul smell when disturbed. Colouration varies from brown or yellowish-brown to black or reddish-black.
Acrobat ants favour moist wood softened by decay and/or fungi for nesting. Other common nesting sites include under rocks, in logs, firewood, trees, wall voids, baseboards, and door and window frames. Because they thrive in cities and other places with high levels of human activity, the pests are found throughout the world.
In their natural environment, acrobat ants feed on honeydew, mealybugs, and a variety of live and dead insects. Within manmade structures, the pests target sweets, like fruit, and high-protein foods, such as meat.
Life Cycle / Reproduction
Extremely territorial, acrobat ants will not tolerate the presence of more than one colony at a given nesting site. However, colonies in close proximity will coordinate with one another. Each colony contains a single queen and as many as thousands of workers. Despite the general lack of information regarding their specific reproductive practices, acrobat ant colonies are known to produce swarmers just like any other ant species. During the right weather conditions, the winged swarmers leave their nests to mate and look for appropriate places to begin new colonies.
Problems Caused by Acrobat Ants
Compared to other, more destructive ant species, acrobat ants have a minimal impact on the places they infest. However, the insects can become pests when they exacerbate the existing structural damage left by other wood-boring species. Acrobat ants also occasionally strip the insulation from electrical and telephone wires, which increases the risk of power shorts and outages. The insects bite and emit an unpleasant odour when disturbed or threatened, as well.
Detection / Signs of Infestation
In most cases, the typical acrobat ant infestation occurs in the yard outside the home rather than inside the structure. Coupled with the fact that the pests tend to seek refuge in existing wood galleries, sighting an infestation often proves challenging. Disturbing the colony members and provoking the release of their defence odour may serve as a primary means of detection. Residents of infested areas may also notice adult acrobat ants foraging for food indoors.
As acrobat ants prefer to live in moist, decaying wood, the best way to prevent their presence is to remove this type of habitat from buildings and lawns. Fix leaky pipes and sites of moisture build-up, and regularly check for other wood-boring insect activity. Store all food in tightly sealed, ant-proof containers. Trim trees and shrubbery around the outside of the home so the branches do not touch or hang over the structure. Seal any cracks in the building foundation with caulk, and replace broken window and door screens.
Control / Removal
Once an acrobat ant infestation becomes established in the home, removing the nest provides the best way of eliminating the problem. If removal cannot be accomplished without issue, calling a pest control professional to treat and control the infestation s is usually the easiest and most effective option.
Get Rid of Acrobat Ants