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Acrobat Ant

Article author: Bradleigh S. Vinson

Common Name(s): Acrobat Ant

Description

Workers are one size, between 1/16 inch and 1/6 inch depending on species. Color is variable, but frequently the head and thorax are reddish-brown and the abdomen is black. They have two backward-pointing spines on the thorax. The waist (pedicle, the narrow segments at the front of the abdomen) has two nodes, and is attached to the upper side of the gaster (part of the abdomen following the waist). The gaster is heart-shaped and is often held upright over the body when the ants are disturbed.

Origin and Distribution

Of the 27 species known of acrobat ants known from the United States, 17 occur in Texas. C. punctulata, C. laeviuscula and C. minitussima occur widely throughout the state, six species are found only in eastern Texas and eight occur only in western Texas.  Although acrobat ants have a stinger, they seldom sting.  sometimes acrobat ants will enter houses near windows.

Habitat & Hosts

Acrobat ants sometimes forage in columns. Although they seldom sting, they can bite. While some species produce exposed nests, many nest under objects, in rotten logs, or are cavity nesters in shrubs or trees.  Their colony size is usually a couple thousand members. They are omnivorous; many tend aphids and occasionally east dead or living insects and sometimes can be attracted to sweets or meat.

Life Cycle

Egg, larva, pupa and adult

Management

If you live in the State of Texas, contact your local county agent or entomologist for management information. If you live outside of Texas, contact your local extension for management options.

These ants nest in water-damaged or water-stressed wood similar to carpenter ants. Indoors, they are found in building voids and insulation. Outdoors, they are found in soil, leaves or wood. They will trail and enter buildings by any means. They are active during the day, and prefer sweet foods. They often feed on the sugary excretions of honeydew-producing insects (e. g. aphids or scales).

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Argentine Ant

Article author: Bradleigh S. Vinson
Most recently reviewed by: Pat Porter (2018)

Common Name(s): Argentine Ant

Description

Workers are one size, about 1/8 inch and light to dark brown. The waist (pedicel) has one node. The tip of the gaster lacks a circle of hairs. They may emit a stale greasy or musty odor when crushed. These ants do not have a stinger.

Origin and Distribution

The Argentine ant is an introduced exotic species that occurs in the United States and is widely distributed.   In areas where it is present it is often found in high densities.

This ant does not pose a medical threat because they do not have a stinger, but they are a threat to native biodiversity. Because of their common high nest density and large colony size, they are a major nuisance pest that very difficult to control.

Habitat & Hosts

Argentine ants are often seen in dense foraging trails. They frequently invade homes. They neither bite nor sting. They are cavity nesters in exposed soil or sometime inside houses, under cover or in rotten wood and can nest in lawns and plant beds.  Their colony size is in the hundreds or thousands of individuals.  Argentine ants have polygyne (multiple queen) colonies and both queens and workers freely move between mounds. This mixing of individuals leaves all the mounds genetically homogenous and thus making the entire population resemble one giant colony. These “supercolonies” may extend for many miles in diameter. They are omnivorous and attracted to sweets and animal fat.

Life Cycle

Egg, larva, pupa and adult.

Management

If you live in the State of Texas, contact your local county agent or entomologist for management information. If you live outside of Texas, contact your local extension for management options.

They usually nest near a moisture source. Indoors they are found near water pipes, sinks, potted plants and water leaks. Outdoors they are found in moist areas under logs, boards, stones, concrete slabs, debris, mulch, leaves and pine straw. Workers follow trails when foraging. They commonly tend honeydew-producing insects (e.g., aphids). Sweets are the favored food, but they will feed on most any food source.

Related Publications

Identifying Household Ants. Mike Merchant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

Managing Household Ant Pests.

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