The Acrobatic or Acrobat ant is one that is found throughout the United States and there are quite a few different species. Heaviest concentrations are found in the south and in some northern areas they are little or no consideration pest wise at all.
The acrobatic ant gets his name in two ways; one is the workers habit of raising their abdomen high up when disturbed looking much like an acrobat or ballerina. The other is their habit of walking along edges of buildings, cable lines, tree branches and the like. Much like a high wire act you can observe hundreds of them going to and from a home on a telephone wire or other such connection. The best way to identify this ant is to view its abdomen from the top, it resembles closely the shape of a heart. Why they didn’t name it the cardiac ant I’m really not sure.
These ants almost always nest in wet areas especially wet wood such as fascia, soffit, fire wood, rotten tree branches or water damaged and decayed wood. The colonies tend to be small in the northern states but can be quite numerous in places like Florida.
Normally the acrobatic ant is happy outside but on occasion they will invade a home in search of food. They are both protein and sweet eaters and will often be found going after Aphids on a plant or tree. They are able to sting and bite especially when disturbed but I’ve had a few hundred of them on me at one time or another and have never been more than tickled.
The reason acrobatic ants are relatively easy to eliminate is two fold.
- Number one is that you can easily spot them as they travel in long trails and follow them back to the nest. Large colonies may have several of these lines but they all lead back to home base.
- Termidor is labeled for this ant and use of this product can sometimes eliminate the need to track the ant to its destination. Apply Termidor to a sufficient amount of visible ants and let them do the rest of the work for you. The ‘transfer effect’ of this product uses the habits of grooming and communication between ants to spread the product to the rest of the colony and soon all the ants will die whether you psychically sprayed them or not. Termidor is not a ‘knock down’ pesticide so spraying them will not result in immediate death, just complete elimination sometime later.(time depends on colony size)
The bad news for do it yourself pest control people is that Termidor is not readily for sale to you. This means that you’ll need to either hire a licensed professional or spend the time trailing along with the acrobatic ants until they reveal their nest site. Sometimes this can be high in a tree or past your property line which can put you in a dilemma.
You can at that time choose baiting for this ant but I find they aren’t always in the mood for one type or another. One bait that they almost always take to is Terro ant bait. When so inclined they will take to it like thirsty cattle to a pond. With this approach you may need to repeat baiting for several days and each time you do you should see less ant activity until it has stopped altogether.
Of course if you find the nest or just decide to spray that can be successful as well. Most sprays labeled for ants will work just be sure to hit all the trails as far as you can follow them. If you find the wet wood they were living you should simply remove it or alter it in such a way that the wet condition will cease and any ants that survive will go elsewhere to establish a new home.
A few jobs I’ve recently done involved spraying the base of trees, long fence lines and of course all the entry points such as gutters and lines coming into the home. These clients were infested almost beyond belief and there was no place on the property that didn’t have a trail of acrobatic ants. Just by using these few techniques we cleared them out seemingly overnight.
If your area is prone to these high infestations I might suggest calling your local pro so he can make short work of your problem as well. That way the only acrobats you see from now on will be when the circus rolls into town.