Common Sugar Ants

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Keith's Pro Tips

"Once ant populations are controlled, prevent these pests from traveling indoors with quarterly insecticide applications and sealing cracks and crevices with caulk."

Common Sugar Ants: How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants

This page is a general DIY control guide for various ants considered sugar ants invading in and around your home. Follow this guide and the attached links to learn more about these sugar ants and how to completely kill and control them with our recommended steps and products.

Sugar ants are usually a problem during the spring and summer months, making their way into homes through small crack, crevices, and voids that most homeowners are not aware of. When these ants do make their way into your home, they quickly overtake areas used for storage of food and water like kitchens. Sugar ants are often drawn to your property by detecting sweet aromas from food to liquids hence their nickname.

Ant species most commonly referred to as sugar ants, are called argentine ants, carpenter ants, odorous house ants, pavement ants, and pharaoh ants. These sugar ants are most encountered indoors within the walls and around the piping of homes throughout the United States. Other sugar ants species such as acrobat ants, little black ants, and rover ants are usually found outdoors in colonies within the ground under stones, fallen debris, and near trash cans. Each of these species have large colonies with one or multiple queens.

Though sugar ants are not immediately dangerous to homeowners, they are an annoying, and numerous pests that can be difficult to control. Not all species of sugar ants respond to baits and pesticide material in the same way, therefore if you know which ant is the problem then you can quickly control the infestation. Here in this article you can learn which sugar ant is infesting your home and which control solution will help to give the highest chances of elimination.

What is a Sugar Ant?

Sugar Ant

There are more than a thousand different species of ants in the world with only a portion feeding on sugar or sugar-like foods. The term sugar ant in the United States is a colloquial term used to describe several species of ants that are attracted or feed on sweet objects. The real sugar ant, also known as the banded sugar ant, is a native ant species in Australia and not found here in the United States.

Types of Sugar Ants

The following pictures and descriptions can be used to help you identify some common sugar ant species in the United States. Once you know the species of sugar ants in or outside of your home, you can determine where it is likely to nest, what kind of damages it causes, and what methods of control measures are most effective for that species.

Argentine Ant

Argentine Ant

Argentine ants are approximately 1/8 of an inch or 3.5 mm long and light to dark brown in color. Unlike other ant species, they have no stinger, and are known to protect themselves and their large colonies against intruders with several bites if provoked. During the summer, nests are located in soil and are usually very shallow. Though they do not nest indoors, they are found in moist, but not wet areas like indoor pipes, sinks, and electrical fixtures.

In addition to being a household pests, this ant destroys outdoor vegetation by feeding on honeydew execrated by aphids. First prevent and control argentine ants traveling to your home by creating a barrier treating with a long-lasting residual insecticide like Supreme IT. Apply 1 fl. oz. of Supreme IT per gallon of water per 1,000 sq. ft. Spray along the the perimeter of your homes foundation by spraying 3 feet up and 3 feet out from the foundation. While spraying also treat the window and door frame, eaves, soffits, garage doors, rain gutters, electrical/plumbing penetrations, and cracks and crevices.

Then, drench any outdoor ant mounds by spraying around the opening of the ant mound. Once this is done, spray the mound itself until completely saturated.

Do not allow contact with treated surfaces by people or pets before spray has dried.

Carpenter Ant

Carpenter Ant Chewing Wood

Carpenter ants are generally large measuring between 0.25 to 0.75 inches long and may be black, brown, red, yellow, orange, or a combination of red and black. They are omnivorous pests feeding on meats, pet food, honeydew produced by aphids, and other sweet-like products found indoors like jelly or honey, hence their association with the term sugar ants.

Though carpenter ants are avid eaters, they do not consume wood. A carpenter ant colony is active all year round in warmer climates typically creating two colony sites known as a parent nest (contain workers, eggs, and queen) and a satellite nest (contain larvae, pupae, and workers).

The parent nest is usually outside within woody areas that hold moisture like fences, trees, firewood, window and door frames, and other wooden structures. If found indoors, then it will be near moist areas such as decaying wood, attic beams, foam insulation, and around tubs and sinks. Satellite nests can be found indoors and outdoors around dry areas such as insulation, wall voids, and other decaying wooden surfaces. Normally the satellite nests are not very far from the parent nest as workers need to carry the larvae to mature in these sites.

The worker ants, which usually emerge at night, tunnel through hollow wood leaving behind smooth-sided galleries with chewed wood particles, feces, and other debris outside near these tunnel entrances. Though not immediate carpenter ants do cause structural damages to your home depending on the size of the nests and pests. If left untreated, then carpenter ants continue to spread their nests and tunnel activities throughout your property leading to an increase in damages.

Since there could be multiple parent and satellite nests throughout your property you will want to apply a bait both inside and outside of your home. We recommend using Ficam Insect Bait as carpenter ants will confuse the material for food thus carrying it back to the colony for complete elimination. With a handheld duster, apply Ficam Insect Bait at a rate of 2 lbs. of product per 1,000 sq. ft. or 3.2 oz. (2/3 cup) per 100 sq. ft. Next, treat cracks and crevices around your home with FiPro Foaming Aerosol to increase contact with pests. Lastly, treat the outside perimeter of your home with Supreme IT at 1 fl. oz. of product per gallon of water per 1,000 sq. ft.

Odorous House Ant

Odorous House Ant

Odorous house ants are small brown to black ants that grow up to 1/8 of an inch in length that earn their reputation by release a foul coconut odor when crushed or threatened. While they feed on various items throughout your home, they prefer foods high in sugar like cookies or other wrapped or unwrapped food. Commonly they feed on outdoor sugar sources like honeydew, which is created by aphids.

They comfortably live in outdoor nests underneath yard debris and general clutter, but they can be found inside near moist sites like under sinks and in the kitchen under appliances. In spring to summer, odorous house ants establish trails for finding nests and reliable food sources. The longer an infestation continues the greater these trails and abundance of nests along it will be.

First, applications around the perimeter of your home with a long-residual insecticide like Supreme IT helps to deter and eliminate foragers from establishing trails. Apply Supreme IT at 1 fl. oz. of product per gallon of water per 1,000 sq. ft. Once the outside of your home is treated you will then make a broadcast application of this product across your lawn. Odorous house ants that have made their way into your home can be taken care of with applications of D-Fense Dust. With a handheld duster, apply D-Fense Dust to indoor cracks and crevices like under sinks, along baseboards, and where the plumbing penetrates the wall.

Since odorous house ants crave sugar, you will need to apply a gel bait such as Ant-Trax Ant Bait. This material mimics sweets that odorous house ants feed on, encouraging the pest to take it back to their nests and feed on it causing the entire colony to perish. Simply wipe down application surfaces with a warm wet rag to decrease competing food surfaces and increase chances of the pest to feed on the bait material.

Place a pea-size drop where you have noticed ant activity, but make sure it at least one food apart from each application site. This product can be used on countertops, in kitchens, in bathrooms, near appliances, near baseboards, and entry points like crack and crevices in window and door frames. Allow at least 7 to 10 days to pass to give the odorous house ant enough time to consume the bait material.

Pavement Ant

Pavement Ants

Pavement ants are small ants measuring about 1/8 inches long, and they range between black to brown in coloration. Usually, their legs are lighter than their bodies. These ants also have grooves on their head and thorax. Pavement ants are pests that leave trails to food sources like dead insects, seeds, greasy foods, fruits, bread, meats, cheese, and honeydew made by aphids.

These ants are territorial, and will protect their colonies through multiple stings if they feel threatened. Their nests are created in various areas such as crack and crevices in pavement, driveways, sidewalk, and curbs. These nests may also be found underneath rocks, logs, other yard debris, along your homes foundation, and indoors near wall voids and underneath carpet. They may also spread underneath wood or along your homes foundation.

They may become numerous in a short period of time making them a nuisance for homeowners when they search indoors for food. Pavement ant nests can be difficult to locate since they can hide in the smallest of crevices. For this reason, direct control with outdoor perimeter applications, use of baits, and treatments of cracks and crevices with a dust will help to eliminate scavenging workers and colony.

Use a long-lasting residual such as Supreme IT along your homes exterior foundation and also treat the window and door frames, eaves, soffits, garage doors, electrical/plumbing penetrations, and cracks and crevices. You will also need to perform a spot application where you have noticed pavement ant activities such as on pavement, sidewalk, driveway, patio, and landscape beds. Apply 0.5 to 1.0 fl. oz. of Supreme IT per gallon of water per 1,000 sq. ft.

Treat indoor crack and crevices, tops of countertops, near window frames, near baseboards, near appliances with pea-size drops of Ant-Trax Ant Bait. Separate each placement by one foot. For voids, cracks, crevices, and points of entry, apply D-Fense Dust with a handheld duster.

Pharaoh Ant

Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh ants are small in size at 1/16th of an inch long, and yellow to light reddish-brown in color with a dark colored abdomen. Like odorous house ants, they release a foul oror, just with the exception that is has a urine-like smell when crushed or squeezed. They are opportunistic feeders consuming various items such as syrups, fruits, meats, and dead insects in swarms.

They nest almost anywhere that is protected with warm, and moist conditions such as cracks, crevices, underneath sinks where plumbing connects with wall, wall voids, in electrical outlets, ceilings, and underneath floors. Outside, pharaoh ants can sometimes be found nesting underneath flat stone surfaces like rocks, bricks, near pavements, and in shaded areas like underneath logs, woodpiles, and foundation of home. Indoors, they can be found in moist areas, like cracks and crevices underneath sinks. 

Most of the time the pharaoh ants is found inside your home traveling through plumbing and electrical outlets. First, bait inside of your home with Ant-Trax Ant Bait. Apply a pea-size drop, separated by one foot between each placement. Place this product on countertops against the wall, in kitchen, in bathrooms, near appliances and baseboards, in entry points, and close to previously infested food and water sources.

Residual insecticides are not useful when controlling pharaoh ants, because colonies tend to split. Treat the perimeter of your home with a non-repellent insecticide like Spectre 2 SC to eliminate any pharaoh ants nesting outside. Spectre 2 SC can be applied at the rate of 1.5 to 3.0 fl. oz. per gallon of water per 1,000 sq. ft.

Spray 3 feet up and 3 feet out from your homes exterior foundation. While spraying, also treat the window and door frames, eaves, soffits, garage doors, electrical/plumbing penetrations, and cracks and crevices.

Rover Ant

Rover Ant

A rover ant is not known to be aggressive, in fact, they lack a stinger and usually avoid biting. These reddish-brown pests are very tiny, measuring between 1 to 3 mm. Unlike other ant species, the rover ant can easily be identified by their 9 segmented antennae whereas other pests have 12 segments.

Rover ants devour mostly sugars such as honeydew made by aphids or scales, tree sap, plant nectar, but can switch to eating more protein based foods like insects during late summer to fall.

They typically favor outdoors for their nests, especially in trunks of rotting trees, loose tree bark, and in the soil. Inside they will invade potted plants, and other areas where moisture collects like cracks and crevices, near water heaters, and in attics and basements if there is condensation buildup.

Though rover ants won't sting or bite, they can become irritating with their large populations and foraging activities. Like most ants, rover ants leave trails for other colony members to follow to a dependable food and water source.

To combat rover ants around your home, you will need to create a perimeter barrier with Supreme IT. Apply 1 fl. oz. of Supreme IT per gallon of water per 1,000 sq. ft. of your homes exterior foundation. Spray 3 feet up and 3 feet out from your homes foundation. While spraying around the outside of your homes foundation, also spray the window and door frames, eaves, soffits, electrical/plumbing penetrations, and cracks and crevices.

To get rid of rover ants inside of your home, first wipe off counter tops with a warm wet rag to clean up any crumbs or liquid food spills. Once these competing food sources have been removed you can then apply Ant-Trax Ant Bait. Place a pea-size drop of product in labeled areas where rover ants have been found. Make sure each placement is at least 1 foot apart from each other. Apply the product on countertops, near appliances, near baseboards, and cracks and crevices.

Lastly, treat cracks and crevices in and around your home with FiPro Foaming Aerosol. Insert the product material where rover ants have been most active such as under sinks, where plumbing meets the wall, and in window and door frames.

Acrobat Ants

Acrobat Ants

Acrobat ants are predatory pests measuring up to 3.2 millimeters in length, mostly feeding on live and dead insects, but they will also feed on honeydew made by aphids and mealybugs, and other sweets and proteins found in homes. These light red, brown, or black colored ants are most recognized by their large, heart-shaped abdomen. When threatened, they raise their abdomen in defense earning them their nickname. If provoked enough, these pests will bite their attacker.

Outdoors, acrobat ants create their nests in damp, rotting wood and shaded areas. They can commonly be found in trees, shrubs, wood piles, around homes foundation, and water meter boxes. However, they are capable of creating their nests indoors near electrical wiring, bathrooms, kitchens, attics, and near areas of homes with constructed wood like the bathroom or kitchen.

As previously mentioned, acrobat ants eat other insects so for this reason we recommend using a broad-spectrum insecticide like Supreme IT. Supreme IT is a long-lasting residual insecticide labeled to treat ants and 70 other types of insects. Once applied, this product continues to fight against rover ants and pests for up to 90 days. Apply 0.5 to 1.0 fl. oz. of Supreme IT per gallon of water per 1,000 sq. ft. along the exterior of your homes foundation.

Spray 3 feet up and 3 feet out from your homes foundation while also spraying the door and window frames, eaves, soffits, garage doors, electrical/plumbing penetrations, and cracks and crevices.

Additionally, treat voids around the outside of your home with D-Fense Dust. With your selected handheld duster, puff the product in hard to reach areas. Indoors, you will apply Ant-Trax Ant Bait as pea-size drops on countertops, near window frames, in cracks and crevices, near baseboards, and close to appliances. Make sure that each bait placement is spaced at least 1 foot apart from each other.

Little Black Ants

Little Black Ant

As their name suggests, little black ants are tiny, about 1/16 of an inch long, and jet black to dark brown in color. This ant has a stinger, but it is too small and weak to use. This pest will feed on grease, oil, meat, fruit, sweets, products made from vegetables such as corn, other insects, and execrated honeydew from aphids and scales.

Little black ants mainly nests outdoors in decaying wood, open lawns, and in the cracks of sidewalks. They also form nests indoors within wall voids, woodwork, cabinets, woodwork, and rotten wood surfaces. Though they do not create immediate damages, they can become a nuisance with their large populations and frequent foraging activities.

Since these pests are capable of creating nests indoors and outdoors it would be best to use a long-residual insecticide like Supreme IT. Perform a perimeter application on the outside of your home to kill and repel pests traveling into your property. Supreme IT can be applied at the rate of 1 fl. oz. of product per gallon of water per 1,000 sq. ft. Once your perimeter application is complete, spray your lawn, ornamentals, and drench any visible little black ant colonies.

Treat indoor cracks and crevices with D-Fense Dust to kill any little black ants inside of your home and interior walls. Apply this product within cracks and crevices, along baseboards, behind electrical outlets, and points of entry outside of your home.

Apply a bait gel such as Ant-Trax Ant Bait on countertops, near appliances and baseboards, window frames, and near entry points. Allow 7 to 10 days to pass without using cleaning supplies in treatment area to increase pest contact with the lethal bait material. Little black ants will carry this material back to other colony members, thus completely eliminating the entire colony in hard to reach areas.

Key Takeaways

Where do Sugar Ants Live?

  • Depending on the pest, sugar ants can live inside and outside of your home. Indoor nest sites are commonly within sheltered, protected areas such as underneath sinks, where electrical/plumbing meets the wall, and wall voids. Outdoors, this will range from moist, decaying wood sites, in soil, or underneath yard debris.

What Attracts Sugar Ants to Your Home

  • Sugar ants are often attracted to sugar and high protein foods ranging from saps, honeydew made by other insects, and other insects.

How Sugar Ants Get Inside Homes

  • With their small size, sugar ants can invade homes through the smallest crack, crevices, and voids around your window frame, door frame, homes foundation, and around exterior plumbing.
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