Pavement ants are an invasive species of ant assumed to have been brought over accidentally from Europe in the 1800s. Their range in the US spans from the East Coast into the Midwest and down to Tennessee, but they have not yet taken up residence in all 50 states. Similar in size to the little black ant, workers are 4 millimeters long at most, although queens are often double the size of the workers. Also like little black ants, they are typically dark brown in color, but they can also be black.
The name of these ants comes from where they are often found to nest – under pavement. Large rocks and building slabs are also fair game, under sidewalks, and even the foundations of homes or buildings. During the summer these nests are often noticed because the ants will dig out sand and soil in between pavement slabs to help keep the nest cool. These nests are used to house the queen ant and her eggs, and the young workers who are caretakers for the eggs. Older workers are the hunter-gatherers and defenders of the nests.
In their hunter-gatherer role, the worker ants collect a wide range of food items. Some of these items include dead insects, seeds, nuts, and human foods. Tending to aphids, these ants also love the honeydew that is produced by these small insects, as most ants do, and have an extreme fondness for sweet treats like ice cream and honey. In their role of defender, these ants can sting, but it causes nothing more than a mild discomfort when turned on humans. However, these ants will host epic battles in the summer months as they try to expand their colonies into enemy territories. Battles take place on sidewalks and pavement, and can result in thousands of dead ants.
Did You Know?
Not much is known about pavement ant behavior, other than what can be observed when these ants are above ground.