Do pavement ants sting?

By Chris Williams on July 8, 2015.

pavement ants outside on leaf eatingBefore I answer that, what exactly is a ‘pavement’ ant anyway? I see ants living in cracks on my concrete walkway or under stones in my garden walls. Does that automatically make them pavement ants? Well, no, but I do have plenty of the ‘official’ pavement ant species Tetramorium caespitum living around my driveway, border gardens and my crumbling concrete walkways. The pavement ant is a non-native species that was probably introduced to the US in shipping vessels from Europe during the Colonial era. It is thought that ants were carried in the soil used for ballast in these cargo ships which was removed and dumped once the ships had reached their US port.

Pavement ant workers are 1/8-inch long (reproductive ants are about twice that size) and reddish brown with distinct grooves on the head and thorax. This ant has two nodes, and a stinger on the end of the third segment (abdomen). It is generally slow-moving, and will form strong trails to food sources. I’ve had them show up a few times in my home over the years heading straight for the cat’s food dish. Pavement ant colonies are found mostly under (surprise!) various types of manmade paved surfaces like walkways, building foundations, or under natural stones.

Tell tale signs of pavement ant activity in homes and commercial buildings are usually little sand piles that show up around cracks in the foundation slab. This sand is often mixed with other debris (dead ants and other insects) that they’ve excavated from their nest. In my home I’ve seen them pushing out this material from the top of my foundation wall and through some minor cracks around my basement windows. A bit of treatment with an insecticide dust and some caulking of the cracks put an end to that problem. Pavement ants are fairly easy to control with baits and further suppression can be achieved with residual insecticide sprays.

Oh and I almost forgot, pavement ants do have a stinger and they will use it. Fortunately their sting is nowhere as potent as a fire ant. If you are having problems with pavement ants, contact our office for more details about our semi-annual service.

Photo credit: Fractality / Foter / CC BY

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