Sugar Ant Control: Protect Your Home


What Do Sugar Ants Look Like?
Size: Sugar ants range in size from 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch.

Color: Coloration varies from black or brown to yellow or red, depending on the species.

Characteristics: Pavement ants are identifiable by the furrows running vertically atop their heads, while pharaoh ants possess 12-segmented antennae. Odorous house ants get their name from the sour, coconut smell they emit when crushed.

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  • Name: The term sugar ant collectively refers to a variety of species that live throughout our Mid-Atlantic service area.
  • Species: People frequently refer to the odorous house ant, the pavement ant, and the pharaoh ant as sugar ants because all three species routinely go after sweet foods in addition to those high in greases and fats.


What Do Sugar Ants Eat?
As their name suggests, sugar ants feed on foods rich in sugars, starches, and proteins. Sweets including nectar, fruits, and syrups are all potential targets of the insects.


Sugar ants live in various types of nests. For instance, odorous house ants develop large colonies of several thousand workers and multiple queens, but pharaoh ants move between multiple nests of varying sizes.

Some may have hundreds of queens and thousands of workers, while others only have a single queen.

Life Cycle
In late spring and early summer, sugar ants swarm and mate while in the air.

Once mated, the males often die and the females land, discard their wings, and nest in the soil, under pavement, or near manmade structures.

The new queens lay eggs and care for the initial generation of offspring, while subsequent broods are looked after by the first generation.


  • Sight: May notice large numbers of flying ants, or alates, swarming during mating season.
  • Dirt: Look for piles of excavated dirt or debris discarded from the construction of sugar ant nests.
  • Food: Watch out for sugar ants moving in a line on chemical trails leading to their food sources.

Problems Caused by Sugar Ants

Health Risks
Pharaoh ants have been known to vector various pathogens dangerous to humans, including:

  • Salmonella
  • Strep
  • Bacteria that causes staph infections.

Other types of sugar ants may cause issues depending on their nesting habits.

For example, nests built under concrete may make the pavement uneven as the colony grows and expands.

Do Sugar Ants Bite?

Pharaoh & Odorous House Ants
Neither pharaoh ants nor odorous house ants are known to bite or sting humans.

Pavement Ants
Pavement ants have stingers, but the mechanism is too weak to puncture human skin.

Nevertheless, ants boast strong mandibles and, if disturbed, will bite humans, which can leave visible marks on the skin.

Signs of Infestation

  • Sighting: The most common sign of a sugar ant infestation is witnessing the ants as they feed.
  • Food: Dropped or unattended food laden with sugars and syrups will attract the pests.
  • Swarmers: During mating season, the presence of swarming alates may indicate the existence of a nearby colony, as well.
  • Dirt: As ants build nests, the excavated dirt may also signal a sugar ant presence.

Prevention Tips

Sugar ants are attracted to a variety of foods, so maintaining the cleanliness of kitchens and food preparation areas is paramount.

Clean and disinfect all surfaces, and put away all foods in sealed containers.

Ants enter the home through:

  • Cracks in foundations.
  • Gaps in windows and doors.
  • Tiny openings around plumbing and electrical fixtures.

Sealing these potential entry points should help keep sugar ants out.

Tips for Removal from Home

Baits & Traps
When ants invade, store-bought baits and traps may help reduce or eliminate entire colonies, as scouts will take the bait back to the nest and spread the chemical deterrents among the other ants. However, they tend to be pretty ineffective.

Call the Experts
For larger infestations, contacting a trained pest professional can be beneficial, as pest control specialists are skilled in recognizing, eliminating, and preventing ant invasions.

Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans.

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