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Acrobat ants get their common name from their habit of raising their abdomen over their head and thorax. These ants, which are actually several species, will bite on occasion and will give off a repulsive odor when disturbed.
Acrobat ants are black to light brown and the heart-shaped abdomen is usually darker than the rest of the body. Acrobat ants are 1/16 to 1/8 inch long. The abdomen is shaped like a heart and is best viewed from above.
Acrobat ants can feed on honeydew from aphids, mealybugs, and live or dead insects. They are typically found under therocks, or in logs, firewood, and trees. These ants prefer nesting in moist wood softened by decay or fungi. Occasionally, acrobat ants will strip the insulation from electrical or telephone wires causing short circuits.
They occasionally become pests by invading homes where they are known to nest in woodwork and foam insulation, and infest household foods. They feed on live and dead insects, and they tend aphids for their sugary excrement known as â€śhoneydew.â€ť In homes, they show a slight preference for sweets and meats or other high protein foods.
Life cycle developing from eggs into white legless larvae then pupae before emerging as adults. Development from egg to pupa takes place within the nest and immatures are rarely seen. Like all ant species, acrobat ants produce winged individuals known as swarmers. Swarmers are fertile adult males and females whose only function is to reproduce and found new colonies
Queen acrobat ant
Successful control of acrobat ants depends on a thorough inspection and correct identification. Nest removal is always the most effective ant management strategy. Both interior and exterior inspections are necessary. The ants inside may originate from an outdoor nest site. Inside a structure, detection of acrobat ant nests can be difficult. Look for small holes, moisture damage and areas previously infested with other wood-nesting insects. One sign may be the accumulation of debris the ants throw out, especially if the colony is infesting rigid board insulation
Like all ants, the acrobat ants may produce winged, reproductive individuals (males and females) called swarmers. These sexually developed adults emerge from an established colony, usually in the fall, to disperse and start new colonies. The swarmers are harmless, but they may be the first indication of an infestation
Infestations entering from outdoor locations can be discouraged by trimming tree and shrubbery branches so that they are not touching the structure and providing a direct path to enter. Seal cracks and crevices in the foundation. Trees holes with acrobat ant nests may be injected with a dust or aerosol insecticide. If outdoor nests cannot be located, spot treatments with baits or insecticides at entry points around the structure can be helpful. If an area is heavily infested, a perimeter treatment by a pest control professional may be required. Always follow label directions.
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