The Acrobat Ant
Acrobat ants (genus Crematogaster) are two-noded ants that live in dark, moist places found in the wild. They get their interesting name from their ability to raise their abdomen over their head when threatened. Acrobat ants often infest human spaces and can cause damage to wood and furniture. They can bite if aggravated. This is one ant you definitely don’t want in your house, so watch out! They need moisture and wood to survive, and so is one of the very common pests found in American households.
HOW TO IDENTIFY ACROBAT ANTS
If the ants you are seeing in your house have the following features, you can be sure that they are acrobat ants –
- Light brown to black in color. Can be reddish as well
- Heart shaped abdomen
- Six Legs
- Average length 3mm
- Smaller species are uniformly dark
- Larger species are reddish in color
Appearance and Behavior
These reddish-brown or black ants are often seen running around with their abdomens held high over their heads when excited or disturbed. This is their distinctive behavior.
- Some species of acrobat ants can emit a pungent odor when disturbed or crushed.
- They feed on sweet honeydew and various other things (such as dead insects, sugar), and are commonly sighted near fruit trees and flowering bushes.
- The worker ants especially prefer sweet honeydew produced by aphids and mealybugs that feed on trees and other plants.
- They prefer to nest in rotting, moist wood. Foundations of houses are often target spots for these ants.
- An infestation of these ants in your house is just a result of them looking for food.
- They usually make nests outside buildings, closer to vegetation, but if there is moist wood inside the acrobat ants will not mind shifting. Outside, acrobat ant nests are often found quite above the ground, mostly in trees. They are also found in tree stumps, hollow trees and rotting logs.
- If there are wood shavings near your furniture and you have sighted the ants around, you can be sure that there is an infestation.
- Door frames, skylights, old furniture – these areas are especially vulnerable. Acrobat ants prefer old, rotting wood, so check these areas regularly. If you see a trail of ants disappearing into these places, you need to be alert as you have an infestation on your hands.
- If the insulation around some of the wiring is missing, you have good reason to doubt acrobat ants.
- Sighting ants around leaky pipes and broken washroom cabinets. If you have leaky pipes, they may be contributing to the rotting of the wooden furniture, floorboards or walls nearby. Acrobat ants will immediately seize this opportunity and build a nest there.
HOW DO YOU GET ACROBAT ANTS
Acrobat ants can come inside through cracked windows, doors, walls and other openings. Since they are often found around wood, bringing firewood inside might also give them a free lift. If your house is generally damp and has a lot of old wood, chances are that these ants will readily come inside to start an infestation. Leaky pipes lead to rotting wood, so your washroom and kitchen also can determine whether or not you’ll get these ants. Having a house close to tall trees, fruit shrubs and flowering plants will make the chances of it getting an acrobat ant infestation higher.
HOW TO GET RID OF ACROBAT ANTS
- To prevent the entry of acrobat ants, fix all cracks in the house. Tend to all the leaky pipes and old furniture. Keep tree branches and other plants around the house trimmed, so that they are not touching the building.
- Make sure there is no mould or moisture damage in your house. Regularly check doors and windows for damaged, moist wood. Store firewood away from the house.
- Use a dehumidifier at home, to keep dampness at bay. Keep food tightly locked away, and make sure no food item is simply lying around.
- To get rid of acrobat ants, you can try locating their source of entry and spraying them with insecticide bought from the supermarket.
- You can use ant baits so send the ants back outside.
- Acrobat ants are also known as cocktail ants, because of their tendency to raise their abdomen over their heads.
- Acrobat ants like eating small insects, like grasshoppers, wasps and termites.
- Only the prey has been captured by the acrobat ants, it is spread-eagled and carried back to the nest.
- Acrobat ants are arboreal (live in trees).
- Unlike other eusocial ant species, acrobat ants have ‘large workers’ that can lay eggs giving rise to functional ants that can start new colonies.
- Acrobat ants can point their abdomen tip in nearly all directions.
- During the conflict with other ants or insects, acrobat ants can eject venom from their abdomen.