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Acrobat Ants     Crematogaster spp.

Acrobat ant comstock

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 Acrobat Ant      Crematogaster spp.  

Size: 

Ranges from 1/8-inch to more than 1/4-inch in length. The most commonly encountered species are found at the smaller end of this size scale. 

Color: 

Ranges from black to dark brown to red and black. The smaller species are typically uniformly dark in color. A larger species, common in Texas, is red and black. 

Behavior: 

When excited or disturbed, the acrobat ant workers run about with their abdomens held high above their heads. Like most ants, acrobat ants establish well-defined trails between the nest and food and water sources. They feed on a wide variety of foods, but the workers are partial to the sweet honeydew produced by aphids, scales and mealy bugs found feeding on many trees and plants. Fruit trees, roses and many shrubs serve as hosts for aphids and may contribute to ant infestations in buildings. Most infestations inside are the result of workers searching for food. 

Acrobat ants are like carpenter ants in that they prefer to nest in moist or rotted wood. Colonies are most often found in tree holes, dead limbs, stumps and logs. Rotting areas in fences, decks and railings may also be nesting locations. Most infestations of acrobat ants originate from outdoor nests; however, if moist or rotted wood exists inside because of water leaks, this ant will readily nest indoors. Such interior nests are typically found around the perimeter -- in soffits, door frames and skylights. 

Acrobat ants are controlled by finding and treating wood where the ant colonies are located. Often, the nest may be located far above the ground in a tree where it is inaccessible to direct treatment. In such cases, limiting interior invasion of ant trails is critical. Repairing water leaks and drying out moist wood inside will help prevent infestations of both acrobat and carpenter ants. Improving attic and crawl space ventilation is also important in limiting acrobat ant infestations. General tips for limiting ant infestations include:  

  • Eliminating piles of lumber, bricks or other debris that could serve as a nesting site for ants. 
  • Keeping landscape mulch less than 2 inches thick and at least 12 inches away from foundations. 
  • Ensuring the sprinkler system does not spray directly onto the foundation. 
  • Sealing as many cracks in the building's exterior as possible. 
  • Keeping tree and shrub branches trimmed to prevent them from touching the building. 

Unique Characteristic:
Acrobat ants have an interesting habit ofbending their heart-shaped abdomen up over their body when disturbed, giving the impression of an acrobat walking on his or her hands.

Control:
It is a good idea to eliminate any visible trails or nests, though they are often in trees and other hard-to-reach areas. Ants entering from outdoors can be managed by sealing exterior cracks through which they enter. Make sure piles of wood or stones are scattered to prevent nesting.

Eliminating moisture from touching outdoor wood by arranging sprinklers so there is no direct contact with sheds or any structure that could result in damp and rotting wood; drying out any damp wood indoors by fixing water leaks will lessen chances of infestation. Cleaning up any leftover food or sugary liquids will help keep ants, as well as other Florida bugs such as cockroaches, from invading your home.

Acrobat ants,Crematogaster species, get their name from their habit of raising their abdomen above their head, especially when they are disturbed. When they are viewed from above, the abdomen is heart-shaped.  There are several species of acrobat ants in the United States. Acrobat ants are small ants. Most species are less than 1/8” in length. Many give off a disgusting odor when disturbed.

Outdoors, acrobat ants nest under stones, in stumps, in rotting logs, and under woodpiles. When they invade homes, they often nest in wall voids or in foam sheathing behind siding. Homeowners often find bits of foam around the outside of the home, next to the foundation. The ants also nest in wood that has been damaged by moisture and fungus.  Acrobat ants have been found nesting in roofing near a leaking skylight.

Acrobat ants often nest in wood that termites or carpenter ants have damaged.  It is common for the acrobat ants to clean out the galleries that other insects made in the wood. They push the dirt or wood scraps out of the galleries. Sometimes homeowners find this debris and think there is an active termite infestation.

Acrobat ants normally eat insects and honeydew. They protect the aphids that produce the honeydew. If acrobat ants come into a home, they seem to prefer sweets and meat.

The acrobat ant workers enter homes in several ways. Sometimes they make a trail across the ground. Door thresholds and weep holes are common entryways. Workers can also follow tree limbs or shrubs that touch the house. They have even made their trails on utility lines.  The ants can enter the home through the same opening that pipes or wires go through.

Preventing acrobat ants begins with a thorough inspection. Sometimes there is evidence to show where they made their nest. For example, if there are bits of foam on the ground by the foundation, it may be a sign that acrobat ants are nesting behind the siding. Ants that are moving in a trail can lead to their nest and their food supply. It is very often necessary to correct a moisture problem before it is possible to eliminate acrobat ants.

It may be necessary to trim shrubs or tree limbs to stop acrobat ants from invading. Check attic vents and repair any damaged screens. Caulk openings around pipes and utility lines.  (Do not handle electric wires; contact the utility company or an electrician.) Move firewood piles away from the home. It may even be necessary to remove a tree stump that the ants have used for a nesting site.

Because the nest can be difficult to locate, it is usually preferable to leave the treatment of acrobat ants to a pest control professional.

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