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Tiny Thief Ants Easily Find Their Way Into Homes Where They Frequently Invade Food Packages, Sometimes Resulting In Contamination

May 11th, 2020

Ants may be the most commonly managed insect pests within homes, and Georgia is home to some pretty fierce species. The red-imported fire ant and the newly introduced Asian needle ant are two examples of highly venomous and potentially dangerous ant pest species that call Georgia home. The thief ant (Solenopsis molesta) is closely related to the red-imported fire ant, but luckily, the thief ant is not a stinging pest. Thief ants are, however, highly aggressive, and they are one of the most common nuisance pests of homes in Georgia.

Thief ants can be found in most US states, but they are most abundant in the southeast. In the natural environment, these ants nest in soil, often beneath bundles of leaf litter, stones and other objects. Unfortunately, these ants are also able to establish multiple nests within homes, particularly within wall voids, base­ments, cellars, under base­boards, or in foun­da­tions. While indoor nests are common when it comes to thief ant infestations, these ants are also well known for entering homes from outdoor nests. In these infestation cases, thief ants are usually after indoor food sources, but extreme climatic conditions, like drought and excessive heat, can also prompt thief ants to invade homes.

The thief ant workers that homeowners often see foraging indoors are very small in size at only 1 to 2 mm in body length. Due to their small size, keeping thief ants from invading homes can be a challenge, but sealing cracks, crevices and other potential entry points on the exterior walls of homes will help to prevent infestations. It is not uncommon for thief ants to invade pantries and kitchen cabinets where they can easily make their way into stored food packages. Because of this, the Food and Drug Administration considers thief ants to be a potential source of food contamination. While thief ant infestations may be a bit too challenging for homeowners to eliminate on their own, pest control professionals usually have little trouble controlling the pests.

Have you ever found ants in your pantry?

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