Living with insect pests like ants and having to sometimes throw unwanted ant guests out of our homes is an unfortunate fact of life here on Earth that we all have to deal with. While some ant species such as the fire ant are hated because of their painful bite, others are pests that invade our homes and try to eat any food they can find. One of the most adept native ant species at sneaking inside people’s homes and raiding their pantries is the thief ant. These native pests are found throughout the United States, roughly ⅔ of the country, and are a regular nightmare for residents of Massachusetts.
One factor that makes the thief ant to successful at finding their way inside our homes is their extremely small size. Thief ants grow to be only 1/16 inch, which is why they frequently go completely unnoticed within homes until you discover bits of food missing. They tend to be lighter in color than other ants, usually yellowish or tan, and can easily blend in with the lighter colors of floors in kitchens, making them difficult to spot. Their name actually comes from their tendency to set up their nests close to the nests of other ants and raid them for food such as eggs, larvae and any other food those ants have managed to claim for themselves. They have a preference for protein, which is why they often steal other ant’s eggs and larvae, and they will also feed on animal carcasses. However, they also have a rather strong sweet tooth, and will go straight for any cookies or other sweet delicacies you may have sitting on your kitchen counter. Of course, they won’t turn down any “greasy” items such as potato chips you may have in your home as well.
Thief ants most commonly enter people’s homes when the weather heats up, making them especially problematic during the summer months. You can try to seal up any cracks or small openings in your home to keep these pests out, but their size makes it easy to slip in through the smallest of openings that you probably wouldn’t even be able to see with the naked eye. They are basically almost impossible to keep out of your home. To get rid of them it’s a good idea to call in a pest control professional, as they require the use of bait and other insecticides to eliminate.
Have you ever had an infestation of thief ants in your home? How did you get rid of them?