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Here Come the Ants

by Jennifer Snyder — last modified Apr 14, 2014 06:21 PM
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Spring brings a bounty of bugs -- not the least of which is ants.


Pacific Northwest ants are not a public health concern, but rather are a type of nuisance pest -- “sugar ants” in particular.  This group collectively refers to mainly two common small ant species in the Pacific Northwest: the odorous house ant (Tapinoma sessile) and the pavement ant (Tetramorium caespitum).  To manage these two ants at their source, it’s important to first understand what each considers attractive forms of food, water, and shelter.  The pavement ant, for example, nests underneath rocks, stones, or in concrete cracks, and indoor nests may be found behind a wall base or a floor crack.  Pavement ant nests may be located as deep as nine feet underground in search of cooler temperatures and moisture, but inside structures may do just as well.  The odorous house ant, conversely, is an opportunistic nester in shallow environments – the soil of a potted plant, layers of mulch (especially more than 3 inches deep), and near water pipes.  Odorous house ants are particularly drawn to electronic appliances in their search for a sweet treat.   Integrated pest management (IPM) methods focus on preventing food, water and shelter, which in the case of these ants requires regular floor and counter sanitation, habitat modification to deter nesting, exclusion around pipes, etc.  To manage either ant, it’s important to know which you’re dealing with first, and then learn what conditions encourage it.

To learn more about how to identify and effectively manage the odorous house ant and pavement ant using least-toxic methods, see: UC IPM Davis: Ants,