Moisture Ants vs Sugar Ants

Ants are probably the number one problem for homeowners everywhere. They somehow manage to find their way into any home, no matter how much pest control and prevention you have on your property.

Whether it’s ant hills, trails of ants to the garbage, or just random ants around your kitchen, you can spot the differences between certain ants based on size.

However, it’s a bit different with moisture ants and sugar ants. Both small and light-colored, it can be tricky identifying these ants.

However, in order to prevent them from getting into your home, you need to know the differences to treat the problem.

This guide goes through what to look for in moisture ants and sugar ants, as well as how to make sure that you get them out of your home permanently.

Moisture AntsSugar Ants
Build colonies in your home's walls in rotted woodBuild colonies under rocks and fallen logs
Mid to large-sized bodiesLive underground
Females have black wingsFeed off sugar and crumbs in your home
Light red to dark brown bodiesTiny to mid-sized bodies, Gray to black bodies

Moisture Ants Video

Sugar Ants Video

Differences in Appearances

All ants have the same arthropod body, but some are smaller than others. There are also ants with much larger mandibles. Some ants have longer bodies, while others are rounder and shorter.

Moisture ants are very light in color and often appear yellow. They are called “moisture ants” because of their nesting habits. These are medium-sized ants that are reddish yellow to black in color, depending on the sex of the ant. Females have black wings and tend to be more reddish brown in coloration. Winged males are much smaller and black in color compared to the light-colored worker ants.

Sugar ants are quite small and typically look black, although their legs are lighter in color compared to the rest of their bodies. They can also appear dark brown. These ants do not vary much between sex and size.

Differences in Behavior

Understanding the different behaviors between these ants is especially important because you will have to treat their infestations differently. One species is definitely harder to get rid of than the other.

Moisture ants can also be called carpenter ants, but they are actually much different. Moisture ants typically live inside the walls of older homes with rotting wood structures being their favorite. If you are repairing some water damage wood areas of your home and spot yellow trails of ants, it’s because you have an infestation of these critters. They are tiny to medium-sized and typically build colonies inside of homes with older wood.

During the months of July and September, moisture ants are most active. Due to the size of the winged females, they are typically mistaken for carpenter ants which can also live inside of your home’s walls.

Moisture ants can damage structures and cause massive problems by building colonies inside of your home’s walls. It may require complete renovation to remove these pests.

Sugar ants also have colonies but they do not damage structures or build inside of your home typically. Most of the time, their nests are built underground in areas by rocks and tree stumps. They live below ground level most of their lives, and due to their size and quiet presence, you may not know you have a sugar ant problem until you start to find them everywhere in your kitchen.

Sugar ants are also known for their odor. If you have ever squashed one, they release a smell that is akin to urine, which is why they also have the name “piss ant.”

As foragers, sugar ants do a great job of feeding on sugar, syrup, pop, crumbs, and sweets. However, when they are in nature, they feed upon insect secretions and other insects that have a sticky sap.

How to get rid of Moisture Ants and Sugar Ants

Just because you can’t see the ants does not mean they are not there. Typically ants are in their colonies and will not venture into sight unless they are foraging for food. If you spot an ant trail, it’s probably because they’ve found a stockpile of trash that they can resource for their colony.

Many ant infestations happen in the spring when there is a lot of moisture. You have to keep vigilant of areas in your home that are prone to ant infestation such as doorways, window entries, kitchen areas, and garbage cans. Cleaning your home and removing food debris is the best way to eliminate these pests.

The road to getting rid of ants can be troublesome if you don’t know the type of ant you’re dealing with. For those who are dealing with colonies inside the home, you will likely have to remove the infested wood and rebuild parts damaged by moisture ants.

You will likely also have to treat with pest control sprays or bombs to make sure that all ants have been eradicated before getting rid of all moisture ants.

Sugar ants can easily be eradicated by eliminating their food sources. If you have food crumbs and debris lying around the home, the first step would be to clean out all trash and vacuum. You can use ant baits that are sugar based to kill off the trail of ants through the entryways in your home.

Slow acting baits around the cracks leading into your home are a good starting point. You may also want to place baits around baseboards, windows, cabinets, and other areas that do not conflict with kids and pets. Ant baits and powders are very toxic. If you use something like Terro, you should make sure that your pet or child cannot get anywhere near the bait.

However, controlling ant populations is largely based on exterior control. If you can’t find the sugar ant colony, you will likely have the same issue again even if you set out baits and traps. You can find sugar ant hills typically around trees, fallen branches, logs, and rocks. Their ant hills are hard to spot above ground because they are so small and typically live underground.

There are also over the counter ant sprays that are sold at Wal-Mart and other garden and home stores. These have no odor and can be great for spot extermination inside and outside of the home.

References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banded_sugar_ant
http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/eb1382/eb1382.pdf

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