Pavement Ants

As the name suggests pavement ants are so called because of their tendency to construct their nest under sidewalks, driveways and patios. Also known as stadium, piss, sugar, house or picnic ants they dot our pathways and landscapes with their somewhat circular mounds and one central entry hole. These small crater like entrances are similar in appearance but smaller than those of the pyramid ant. The colony can consist of thousands of workers and contains multiple queens. This ant feeds on just about anything and is very territorial. Large scale ‘sidewalk battles’ can often be viewed as rivals try to dominate the area and drive other colonies out. While day time activity is normal, this ant is even more active at night.

These ants often enter homes in search of food and quickly swarm pet dishes or scraps found on the floor. They easily find their way in through plumbing holes, small cracks and gaps or other such entries. Swarms do occur inside structures and at times can be very frustrating to deal with. If the conditions are not favorable only a relative few will emerge at a time prolonging this process sometimes for weeks.

How They Travel

Pavement ants inhabit many parts of the country including parts of California, Mid-West , Florida and other South Eastern States. This ant can swarm at almost any time of the year but primarily in the spring. Swarming numbers can be very large when conditions are favorable. With strong winds, mating ants can be carried quite some distance where they will begin to establish new colonies. While they do try and dominate an area the nest is usually in just one location so wide spread infestation is limited because when one colony has taken over an area it means another has been eliminated. This ant can be transported in shipping of goods such as landscaping materials. It is believed this ant was introduced to the United States via soil shipments in the 18th and 19th centuries.

How Best To Identify Pavement Ants

Pavement ants are fairly non de-script and their mounds can look very much like that of the pyramid ant but tends to be not as uniformly circular. This ant is very small-1/10 to 1/16th of an inch long and usually dark brown. Distinct ‘carved like’ lines can be seen on its head under magnification.

Treatment And Elimination

Finding the nest outdoors is usually not difficult and applying granules or liquid insecticides to the nest site is very effective. Sweet baits such as Terro will also work well but tend to dry quickly in the sun. Finding colonies that are inside is not always so easy so placing sweet baits like the Terro or Advion gel along known trails should work rather quickly. Traditional sprays inside may kill foragers but the pavement ant may avoid the area detecting the residual spray. Non repellant liquids like Phantom or Arilon work best as the ant cannot detect it and will ‘carry’ the ingredient back to nest mates infecting the colony that is hidden. Certain label restrictions apply with areas and use so be sure to check the label.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.

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  • Mel

    You mentioned baits drying up in the sun. Have you ever seen them cover the bait with debris? I do not know if its to hide the bait from other ants or to keep it from drying out. 

    I’m probably the only person who’s been stung by one since they seldom use their stinger.  No one believes me and it was not until I looked it up on the truman guide (pre-internet on ones phone days) I found out pavement ants have stingers. 

  • You know I can’t say as I’ve ever noticed that behavior but I’ll be sure to look from now on. 

    I might also want to change my behavior when demonstrating to homeowners how “harmless” these ants are by putting my hand down and letting them run amuck up and down my arm. Hard to make too many claims while my arm is swelling up–lol 😉