More than 1,000 species of ant make North America their home, and many of these species can cause problems for homeowners. Allegheny mound ants are one of the species that you may discover in your backyard. Here are five things you need to know about them.
How do you identify Allegheny mound ants?
Allegheny mound ants have red heads and thoraxes, while their legs and abdomens are black. Unlike other types of ants, the workers are not uniform in size; they can be anywhere between 1/8 and ¼ inches long. Due to these characteristics, it's easy to mistake them for fire ants.
The best way to tell them apart is by looking at their mounds. While fire ants also build mounds, Allegheny mound ants build the biggest mounds of any field ant. Their mounds can get as tall as 1 meter (3.3 feet) and reach diameters of about 2 meters (6.6 feet). If you see these huge mounts in your backyard, you should assume that Allegheny mound ants are the culprits.
Where do they live?
Allegheny mound ants have a fairly large range in North America. They are found along the Atlantic coast, from Nova Scotia in the north to Georgia in the south. These ants can be found as far inland as Kentucky. If you live within this range, you may encounter Allegheny mound ants in your backyard or inside your house.
Why are they pests?
The mounds that these ants create are more than just an eyesore. The ants inject formic acid, a type of venom, into vegetation that surrounds their mound. They do this to clear the area and prevent vegetation from growing on top of their mound. Their venom is quite effective and can kill trees and shrubs as far as 50 feet away from the mound, according to the University of Kentucky. If you have a small backyard or multiple mounds, your entire lawn may be ruined.
The one good thing about these ants is that they tend to stay outside. They like to feed on small bugs and honeydew produced by aphids, so there's not usually any reason for them to wander into homes looking for food like other types of ants.
Do they bite?
Allegheny mound ants are very aggressive, so take care when approaching their mounds. If they feel threatened by you, they won't hesitate to bite, and due to the formic acid they produce, the bite will be painful.
How can you kill them?
Allegheny mound ants are somewhat unique in that their colonies are home to multiple queens. Multiple colonies may be linked together, forming super colonies. This makes killing them harder since you need to kill all of the queens to defeat the ants.
Since there are multiple queens, using ant baits isn't an ideal solution. Ant baits work for colonies with a single queen, but with multiple queens, it's possible that one or more queens will not be fed the poisoned bait by her workers. To ensure you kill all of the queens, you'll need to drench the mounds with insecticides.
Since the mounds are so tall, experts recommend removing the top of the mound with a shovel to expose the ants' tunnels before applying the insecticides. Next, pour an appropriate insecticide (like cypermethrin) into the tunnels, making sure to drench the soil. The ants will defend their colony during this process, so for your safety, protect yourself from bites by wearing long pants that are tucked into tall boots.
Allegheny mound ants can ruin the look of your backyard and deliver painful bites, so you need to get rid of them. If you're not comfortable working with insecticides, hire a pest control company to deal with the ants for you. Contact a company like Swat Bug Killers Pest Control for more information.