Moisture ants refer to a number of ant species in the Lasius and Acanthomyops genera. These ants get their name from their attraction to moist environments and need for plenty of water to survive. They’re also notorious for being wood-infesting ants which specifically target damp or rotting wood for nesting.
In this article, we’ll look into how to identify moisture ants, learn their nesting habits, determine if they’re dangerous, understand what they do as wood-infesting ants, and finally look at ways to prevent moisture ant infestation.
Identifying Moisture Ants
As wood-infesting ants, moisture ants are usually mistaken for the more notorious carpenter ants. They are, however, very much different. Unlike the big, typically reddish to black carpenter ants, moisture ants are small (around 3-5 mm long) and are usually yellow to dark brown in color. Furthermore, moisture ant workers have notched thoracic dorsums (upper surface of the thorax) while carpenter ant workers have rounded ones (see images below).
Another way to identify moisture ants is through the citrus or citronella-like smell they emit when crushed.
Where Do Moisture Ants Nest?
As mentioned, moisture ants like to nest in moist environments. Outdoors, this could be under rocks, logs, or any wooden structures close to moist soil. These structures include house foundations, wooden steps, or beams.
Indoors, they’ll nest anywhere with water leaks including bathrooms, basements, roofs, walls, and crawl spaces.
Are Moisture Ants Dangerous?
Moisture ants aren’t known to be aggressive and will only ever bite when they’re threatened and feel the need to defend themselves. Even then, their bites are pretty painless and in the worst case will only cause mild irritation, redness, and itching.
Overall, moisture ants are more of a nuisance than a danger. For example, these ants are attracted to sweet sugary foods and won’t hesitate to invade kitchens and pantries. The main concern with these ants, however, is the fact that they’re wood-infesting insects. They excavate to nest in moist or rotten wood which in consequence speeds up the decaying process. When left unchecked, moisture ants may cause structural weakness and eventually, damage.
That said, they aren’t actually wood destructive as they don’t infest dry wood and are pretty much harmless in other circumstances. Think of them as a symptom to underlying moisture problems.
Signs of Moisture Ant Infestation
Moisture ants aren’t the only wood-infesting insects. As mentioned earlier, moisture ants are commonly mistaken for the more destructive carpenter ants and aside from those, there are also the velvety tree ants and other insects such as termites, bees, and certain species of beetles. With all these insects, it may prove difficult to pinpoint a moisture ant infestation. Fortunately, they do leave signs that differentiate them from the rest.
For one, moisture ants leave cone-shaped piles of trash called frass outside nest openings or unused nest chambers. Such frass is a key indicator of ant infestation and differentiates them from termites which instead leave fecal pellets from consumed and digested wood.
As for how they’re different from other ants, moisture ants produce crumbly, carton-like galleries made of soil and their own secretions while carpenter ants and the others produce clean and smooth galleries.
Finally, the last sign would be the ants themselves. Small yellow ants around wood or areas of moisture would be the most obvious sign of moisture ant infestation.
How To Prevent Moisture Ant Infestation
To prevent moisture ant infestation it’s important to understand that they are only a symptom to underlying moisture or water issues. Again, these ants aren’t exactly wood destructive and will only ever target already damaged wood. So the key to preventing them is preventing wood from getting damaged by moisture.
Therefore, be sure to inspect and correct any leaks or moisture problems in and around the property. Leaking roofs, basements, and drainage issues may all cause moisture ant infestation.
Also make sure to repair or replace any water-damaged, moist, or already decaying wood to remove potential nesting sites. If you live or have property in humid areas, use treated wood that’s less susceptible to decay.
How To Get Rid Of Moisture Ants
Following the preventative measures discussed is usually enough to get rid and prevent moisture ants. In fact, the use of chemical insecticides is rarely recommended for moisture ant control. It is only when infestations are severe and that the ants have indeed become a nuisance that these chemicals become necessary.
In such cases, you will need to use insecticides such as baits and aerosols. Ant baits are made of a mixture between toxic matter and food that’s attractive to ants. They do well for infestations in out-of-reach areas as the ants themselves would take the bait to their nests and eventually pass the toxin to the queen. Moisture ants are specifically attracted to sweet liquids, so consider sugar-based baits.
Another way would be to apply insecticides directly into the moisture ant’s nest. For this you may use insecticide dust, aerosol, or foam and apply or inject any to both the interior and exterior perimeter of the nest.
For large and inaccessible infestations consider calling for professional help.
Do Moisture Ants Fly?
Yes, some moisture ants can fly. Moisture ants have winged reproductive ants, meaning male and queen moisture ants grow wings and are capable of flight. These winged reproductive ants fly out of their nests at certain times of the year to participate in the nuptial flight wherein they swarm and mate.
Are Moisture Ants The Same As Sugar Ants?
No, moisture ants are not the same as sugar ants. While both are greatly attracted to sweets, sugar ants are generally smaller and don’t have the same penchant for water as moisture ants.
Are Ants Attracted To Water?
Yes, ants are attracted to water as they are to other substances or materials they need to survive. Ants need water for their bodies to properly function and without it they eventually dry out and die.
Summary: What Are Moisture Ants?
To summarize, moisture ants are a group of small, yellowish ants from the Lasius and Acanthomyops genera that are highly attracted to water and high-moisture environments.
They’re known to be wood-infesting ants which specifically nest in water-damaged or rotting wood. In doing so, they accelerate the decaying process of wood and when left unchecked, will eventually cause structural damage.
However, it’s worth noting that moisture ants are only destructive towards wet wood and are in fact harmless otherwise. As such, these ants work as signals for underlying water issues.