As the name suggests, moisture ants usually live in high moisture areas. When gathered in colonies, these ants build their nests in soil, decaying logs, as well as houses and buildings where there is lots of moisture. They also love to invade homes in search of food.
How do you get rid of moisture ants? To get rid of moisture ants, find their nest and destroy them. Eliminate the source of moisture or water leakage, inside and outside your house. In most cases, their nests are present in these areas.
In some cases, clearing out the water source will not be that easy. Homes that have been flooded recently may still have water hidden somewhere. Also, moisture ants are very small and could be mistaken for termites.
What Are Moisture Ants?
Moisture ants are ants that are attracted to moist and wet areas. They belong to the Lasius genus, of which two of the known members are the yellow ants (Acanthomyops) and the cornfield ants (Lasius neoniger). These ants can be found across the US and elsewhere around the world, except in hot regions or areas such as deserts. A few numbers of these ants are not considered a threat to structures. However, this ant species can still be destructive, especially if their colony is huge.
What Do They Look Like?
Moisture ants can grow between 2 and 3 mm (1/16 and 1/8 inch) long. These wood-destroying ants could be red to black, brown, red, or yellow, so it’s quite hard to identify them based on color only.
Do Moisture Ants Bite?
Moisture ants bite humans. Fortunately, they have no sting, and their bites are not painful at all. Although sometimes the bites can result in mild irritation, slight itching, or redness of the skin, they can be treated with ice or some ointment. These nuisance ants rarely bite, and when they do, it’s only an act of self-defense or when you disturb their nest.
Do Moisture Ants Have Wings?
Moisture ants have wings, but not all of them. Most male and female moisture ants have wings because they fly to another place where they mate and establish a new colony. The wings of the males will be lost after mating, but a scar will remain. On the other hand, the queen ant will chew off their wings and will crawl in search of a new nest.
These ants usually reproduce in the summer season, so you may see them flying or swarming during this time. Generally, flying ants are any ant species that are already sexually mature. Also called alates, these swarming ants are not dangerous and rarely bite. Meanwhile, worker ants have no wings.
Are Moisture Ants Different from Pavement Ants?
Moisture ants are different from pavement ants, although one can sometimes be mistaken for the other. Both of them can be similar in size and color but differ in habitat. Again, moisture ants love to stay in high-moist areas or wet wood. On the other hand, pavement ants usually build their nests in sidewalks and building slabs.
Both of them are harmless ants and are also common in North America. Nevertheless, pavement ants originally came from Europe before reaching the US. Scientifically known as “Tetramorium caespitum,” pavement ants have two nodes between their thorax and abdomen. On the other hand, moisture ants only have one node or single segment.
What’s the Difference between Moisture Ants and Sugar Ants?
The main difference between a moisture ant and a sugar ant is that the latter is smaller and doesn’t need lots of water. Instead, they prefer eating sweet and sugary foods, hence the name. This is why you are likely to see them in kitchens and pantries. Sugar ants also love to build their nest in low areas, while moisture ants live in high places.
What’s the Difference between Moisture Ants and Carpenter Ants?
Moisture ants and carpenter ants almost look the same. But while both of them can fly, carpenter ants develop white, translucent wings, while moisture ants usually have black wings. Although carpenter ants also damage woods, they don’t care if the wood is dry or old. And unlike moisture ants, they sting, and their bites are painful like a sharp pinch.
Signs of Moisture Ant Infestation
Moisture ants may not be a threat to your home, but a huge colony can damage a wood structure, and it will be hard to eradicate them. Despite having only one queen, they can reproduce thousands of ant workers, and their reproduction period usually last for about 88 days. Therefore, here are some signs of moisture ant infestation in your home:
- Ants on Wet Wood: If you spot tons of moisture ants near or inside a damp or decaying wood.
- Ants in Source of Water: If you see trails of moisture ants from any kind of water source. These moisture ants also prefer this wet environment, and they tend to drink water.
- Ants in Holes and Cracks: If you see a long line of moisture ants that are passing through small wall cracks or holes around water pipes, it means they have a hidden nest inside.
- Ant Nest in the Soil: Moisture ants also build a nest in the soil, and sometimes, you may find them at the foundation of your house.
How to Get Rid of Moisture Ants Naturally?
Pesticides contain toxic chemicals that can harm humans and pets. Therefore, you might want to eliminate moisture ants in the most natural ways.
1. Destroy Their Nest
To destroy a nest or colony of moisture ants, you must know where to find them. Aside from damp wood, they also build a nest in moisture-damaged furniture, a leaky roof, a drainage system, and rotting wood. A faulty HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) is also a good source of moisture.
Moisture ants also feed on honeydew, a sugar-rich sticky liquid that aphids produce. Aphids are very small insects that feed on plants by sucking the plant sap. Therefore, it is very likely that these nuisance ants will also build a nest near a plant that has aphids. Ant nests also have mounds. With that, you might also want to check your garden.
2. Use Bait
If you cannot find their nest, try using bait that moisture ants are attracted to the most. To trap and kill ants naturally, you may do the following:
Step 1: Use sugary foods such as fruits, candies, or peanut butter as bait.
Step 2: Place it on a piece of masking tape near their possible nest.
Step 3: Once a worker ant smells it, others are expected to follow, and they will be trapped.
Nevertheless, using bait has some advantages and disadvantages. In particular, it is safer than using pesticides because of the absence of harmful chemicals. Also, you don’t need to locate the ant nest. On the other hand, not all ants may be attracted to go near the bait. Therefore, observe, and if they are not attracted, try another form of bait.
3. Remove All Sources of Moisture
Removing all sources of moisture can sometimes be challenging. Aside from those mentioned above, other sources of moisture inside the house are the basement with a dirty floor, plumbing leaks, leaky faucets, drainage system, and molds in electrical wirings. If there is a flood, make sure you clean and dry everything once the water subsides.
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Will Boric Acid Kill Moisture Ants?
Boric acid can kill moisture ants. As a matter of fact, it is effective in getting rid of any kind of ants. Also called hydrogen borate, boric acid damages the ant’s stomach, their exoskeletons, and their nervous system.
How to Destroy Moisture Ant Colonies?
Once you find a nest or colony of moisture ants, there are many ways to destroy them. You can use readily available pesticides, but you may opt to use safer ways, especially if the presence of these nuisance ants is only minimal. Here are ten of the natural solutions that you can apply to a colony of any ant species:
- Boiling water
- Borax (sodium tetraborate)
- Brewed coffee grounds
- Cinnamon leaf essential oil
- Diatomaceous earth (DE)
- Glass cleaner and dishwashing liquid
- Pepper or peppermint essential oil
- White vinegar
However, destroying their nest is only 100% effective if you can kill the queen ant. The queen ant is the one producing the worker ants, and as long as it is alive, the ants will only continue to multiply. This is also the reason why ants are always present. It is quite challenging because the queen ant never leaves their nest, and the soldier ants will protect their queen.
How to Prevent Moisture Ants from Coming Back?
In some cases, eradicating moisture ants and destroying their nest is not enough. They may come back anytime if they sense that there are still good reasons for them to return. Therefore, here are some ways that are proven effective to prevent moisture ants from entering your house:
- Seal all small holes and cracks.
- Store your food in sealed containers.
- Remove all damp wooden materials.
- Clean hidden areas such as behind the furniture.
- Don’t just mop the floor; vacuum it every day.
- Clean garbage cans inside out every day.
List of Sources
Jacobs, S. (2017). Pavement Ant. The Pennsylvania State University.
Alder, P., Waldvogel, M. (2018). Tips for Effective Ant Baiting. NC State University.
Antonelli, A. (2007). Moisture Ants. Washington State University.