Educate customers about ants


May 31, 2017

Jerry LazarusMost ants thrive in warm and moist conditions, which is why it’s best to eliminate moisture or standing water near or inside the home.

To fight the problem, you first have to identify your enemy. Here are some of the most common home ant invaders in southern New England — and perhaps your neck of the woods, too. We aimed to make our descriptions easy to understand for homeowners:

  • Carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.) hollow out nests in both dry and moist wood, though they prefer the latter. They can be particularly hard to remove because their nests can be more difficult to locate.
  • Large yellow ants (Lasius spp.) are sometimes called citronella ants because they emit a distinctive citronella odor when they are crushed. They often nest in rotting wood or under landscaping elements near the house, where they feed on honeydew excreted by aphids on ornamental plants. They are frequently confused with termites when they swarm into the living areas of homes. Although this can be disconcerting, they do not attack structures or forage for food inside the home.
  • Pavement ants (Tetramorium caespitum) get their name from their preference for nesting under stones, along curbs or in pavement cracks. Pavement ants feed on a wide variety of foods. It is when they enter your home to forage in large groups that pavement ants, who can sting and bite, become a true nuisance.
  • Pharaoh ants (Monomorium pharaonis) are very small, nesting in hidden, well-protected areas throughout buildings, including in walls, behind baseboards, in refrigerator insulation and other undisturbed indoor spaces. They prefer sweets, but also consume grease and even shoe polish. They live in extremely large colonies and can spread disease.
  • Thief ants (Solenopsis molesta) are one of the smallest ant species. They often steal larvae and pupae from neighboring colonies to use as food. Other favorite foods include anything greasy and containing protein, such as nuts, meats, cheese, peanut butter and sweets. Because worker thief ants are small enough to enter food packaging, they can become a nuisance in the kitchen. Outside, thief ants forage for dead insects and rodents, which means they can transmit pathogens into your home and food.

Of these, carpenter ants are probably the most destructive. Here are five signs that carpenter ants may be in the house:

  1. The presence of medium to large black ants in the house in springtime.
  2. Piles of sawdust that reappear after being removed.
  3. Faint, unexplained rustling noises from inside walls or woodwork.
  4. Numerous large-winged carpenter ants inside the home.
  5. Wood beams that sound hollow when tapped.


About the Author

Lazarus is third-generation owner of Braman Termite & Pest Elimination, Agawam, Mass. Contact him at

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