Ants are America’s most common domestic pests, and sugar ants have a significant part in this. These ants are a diverse and distinct group of insects, but it’s easy to mistake them for another kind.
What locals refer to as “sugar ants” differs greatly from place to place. But, no matter where you travel, these sweet-loving pests have two things in common: they’re tiny, and they cause havoc in people’s homes. Fortunately, you can get rid of them without much hassle. But you need to know some facts about them first.
In this article, we’ll walk you through facts about sugar ants. We’ll also discuss how to tell whether you have an infestation on your hands, how you get rid of it, and how to prevent sugar ants. So, without further ado, let’s delve in!
What Are Sugar Ants?
Ants are typically sweet-seekers, grease-eaters (also known as protein ants), or everything-eaters when it comes to food choices. The term “sugar ant” is used in the United States to refer to any form of a sweet-seeking ant. However, outside of the US, particularly in Australia, the banded sugar ant (or Camponotus consobrinus) is the one many people refer to as “sugar ant.”
This ant was discovered in 1842 by the German entomologist Wilhelm Ferdinand Erichson. Its name is derived from two characteristics: its preference for sweet foods and the distinctive orange and brown band that encircles its gaster (the rear body segment of an ant).
What Do Sugar Ants Look Like?
Banded sugar ants appear in a wide range of colors, which may be related to environmental rather than hereditary factors. For example, humidity, insolation (exposure to the sun), and temperature can all impact their color.
They have three body segments, six legs, and bent antennae ranging from yellowish-brown to black. In addition, depending on the species, they can range in size from a grain of rice to a lima bean (between 2.5 and 18 mm).
How Do Sugar Ants Behave?
Banded sugar ants employ various social strategies to entice other ants to accompany them to a food source. For example, some of these strategies include a worker carrying another worker, tandem running, and leaving a pheromone trail to the source.
In addition, they’re nocturnal creatures who like to forage in suburban areas. Workers are most commonly seen at dusk, hunting for food on marked pathways. They also feed during the day, but they’re more common at night. Plus, they’re more active in the warmer months.
How Do Sugar Ants Reproduce?
The queen ant is the only sugar ant that can lay eggs. Male ants mate with the queen ant, who then lays her eggs in a specific chamber within the ant colony. The colonies are usually built around the queen, and she’s the center of most of the activity in the colony.
Sugar ant queens lay eggs in late spring or early autumn, which hatch into new queens or males. Then, thousands of alates mate in the air throughout autumn while sugar ant workers watch the ground.
Types Of Sugar Ants
As previously mentioned, the term “sugar ant” can be referred to any ant that gets attracted to sugar and not necessarily the “banded sugar ant.” This referral falls under two main categories: ants who like to nest and feed within a home and those who prefer to nest and feed outside and only come inside to feed on sweets. Below are some examples of outdoor and indoor sugar ants.
Outdoor Sugar Ants
- False honey ants
- Little black ants
- Acrobat ants
- Rover ants
- Cornfield ants
Indoor Sugar Ants
- Carpenter ants
- Odorous house ants
- Argentine ants
- Pharaoh ants
- Pavement ants
What Attracts Sugar Ants?
Sugar ants seek sugar, but what else? Because sugar comes in a variety of ways, knowing which sweet meals they prefer can be beneficial. Sugar, including white, brown, and powdered sugar; honey; corn, maple, and other syrups; jams, jellies, and preserves are the most noticeable types of sugar to think of.
There’s also cake, candy, fruit, nectar, soft beverages, and honeydew, all sugar ant favorites. Honeydew is the sticky, sugar-rich liquid excreted by other insects, such as aphids, which are typically found on houseplants. Interestingly, sugar ants protect aphids as they’re considered their main food source.
Are Sugar Ants Dangerous?
Certain ant species are more harmful than others. Sugar ants aren’t very harmful, but they can be a real pain to deal with. A sugar ant colony inside your home can swiftly grow to over 50,000 ants, and no one wants a closet full of them.
Sugar ants bite through paper and plastic containers, quickly destroying food containers. Further, they can attract other pests such as centipedes and spiders, which can cause havoc in your home.
It’s also important to note that these ants bite, but their bites usually don’t require treatment. When a sugar ant bites you, it normally doesn’t cause any symptoms. Just apply antibiotic ointment and ice to the afflicted region if necessary.
What’s The Difference Between Sugar Ants And Other Ants?
Are sugar ants really distinct from other ant species? The answer is yes.
Many believe that all ants are drawn to sweets. However, this isn’t always the case. Different ant species are attracted to different types of food. While sugar ants are drawn to sweet meals, other ant species prefer protein-rich sources of nourishment. Either one can suffice for some ants.
Furthermore, sugar ants have unique nesting practices that set them apart from other ants. For example, pavement ants are named after their propensity of nesting in or near pavements and driveways. On the other hand, odorous house ants are more likely to live in the soil or under objects on the ground.
Sugar ants are also capable of biting and stinging, just as other ants. What distinguishes them from the others is that they don’t bite in a painful or harmful manner (except if you’re highly sensitive). Other ant species, such as the fire ant, can inflict excruciatingly painful stings that can cause significant reactions even in people who aren’t ordinarily allergic to insect bites.
Signs Of A Sugar Ant Infestation
In search of sweet goodies, sugar ants penetrate indoor locations such as kitchens and pantries. They enter through fractures in the foundation, gaps around doors and windows, and tears in doors and window screens, just like other bugs and vermin.
So how would you know that you have a sugar ant infestation? Here are some signs that may alarm you that there’s a sugar ant problem.
Sugar ants can be found living beneath parking lots, roadways, and sidewalks. Look out for small mounds of soil that emerge from fractures in concrete or asphalt. If these pests are near your structure, they have a good chance of getting inside.
Seeing a swarm of ants on the floor, in a cabinet, or on your counters indicates an infestation.
Here, winged reproductives are produced by robust, growing colonies. So when you see ants with wings near windows or doors, you know you’ve got a major problem.
Some ants generate audible sounds as they construct homes inside buildings. Noises are louder and more noticeable in large groups.
How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants
To get rid of sugar ants, find and follow their visible trail as far as you can—this will help you figure out their access point and where to start your remediation. Then, after you’ve found the route and access point, you can begin killing sugar ants.
Your treatment may vary whether the infestation is indoors or outdoors. Here’s how to handle both scenarios.
When sugar ants attack, the first thing you should do is remove their food source. Remove any ant-infested goods from the house and any other sweets or sugary items that could attract more sugar ants.
Don’t depend on ant-repelling cures like vinegar and lemon peels, although you can give them a try if they’re the only option available. Those aren’t actual cures in the least; they may temporarily repel sugar ants, but they never treat the source of the problem.
Instead, use effective ant bait items to replace that food source. The bait kills invading ants and the colonies they maintain, unlike non-bait, contact-kill ant products. Because the ants mistake the bait for food, they return to their sugar ant nest, where they nourish — and kill — their queen and the rest of the colony.
Like other common ants, sugar ants spend much of their time outside. But, as they seek moisture or sugar to eat, they find their way inside through small gaps in your home’s exterior. To keep your kitchen and storage spaces ant-free, you need to kill sugar ants before they come inside.
Effective exterior management begins at the perimeter of your property. In a one-foot-wide band, anti-pest granules should be sprayed around the perimeter of your home and outdoor entertainment or eating spaces, such as patios. This treatment kills the entire colony and guards against ant species for elongated periods.
So treat each mound with bait granules, as well as any apparent ant routes or spots where sugar ants could enter your home.
Also, as a homeowner, it’s crucial to remember that correctly recognizing a species of ant is tough. You may believe you’re dealing with sugar ants, but you’re actually dealing with a more deadly or destructive variety. Working with a professional ant control company is sure to know what infestation you have at home.
Preventing Further Ant Infestations
You can prevent sugar ants from invading your home with proactive treatment.
You have to keep sugar and sugary foods properly wrapped in your cupboard. Thoroughly clean the countertops and other parts of the kitchen where food is prepared. Allowing unclean glasses, utensils, or plates to sit for an extended period, whether inside or outside, isn’t a good idea.
To prevent a fresh batch of sugar ants from taking over, replace bait stations every three to six months or as soon as ants empty them.
Like sugar ants indoors, sugar ants in nature are on the lookout for sweets. So they follow aphid-infested plants in your landscaping. Therefore, aphids that are treated early on are less likely to attract sugar ants, which may end up indoors.
As you can see, any sugar-seeking ant can be called a “sugar ant.” However, sugar ants are actually a species known as “banded sugar ants.”
So, if you don’t want any sweet-lover ants in your home, make sure not to leave sweet, sticky, or stale food lying around.
Keep in mind that sugar ants may also bite humans, but their bites can’t kill. However, even though they’re not lethal to us, you’ll hardly want them pulling in more insects into your perfect home.
We have provided some ways to prevent sugar ants and kill them in cases of infestation. So be on the lookout for the signs, and you’ll have a sugar-ant-free home.