Common Ant Species: Pavement Ants

Ant Mound

Pavement ants are one of the most common species in the U.S. So common, in fact, they are often not viewed as much of a nuisance…until they decide to invade your outdoor picnic. Pavement ants earned their name due to their tendency to burrow under sidewalks, driveways and building slabs, piling the resulting dirt in mounds on top of the pavement.

An introduced, soil-nesting species of ants, it is widely believed that pavement ants were transported to the U.S. in the holds of European merchant vessels during the 1700s to 1800s. The ships were filled with soil to provide weight on the overseas voyage. Once in port, the soil (along with the uninvited and unwelcome ants) was removed, and replaced with goods to carry back across the Atlantic.

Appearance

The pavement ant is about 1/8–1/16-inch long. They range in color from brown to black with paler legs and antennae. Despite their differences, however, these are the distinguishing characteristics of the pavement ant:

Pavement Ants
  • A pair of spines on the back
  • Two nodes on the petiole
  • Grooves on the head and thorax
  • 12-segmented antennae with a three-segmented club
  • Stinger in the last abdominal segment
  • Queens and swarmers (reproductive ants) have wings and are twice as large as the workers

Habitat

Pavement ants nest outdoors under stones, along curbs or in cracks of pavement. They also nest indoors in walls and under floors. Pavement ants are a familiar sight during the summer months. They can be seen trailing along sidewalks, driveways, patios and cracks in foundation walls. Sometimes they can be seen carrying soil or excavated debris, food or eggs from one colony to another.

A colony of pavement ants will have multiple queens and numerous workers. A new colony is established when a queen lays eggs. As these eggs develop, worker ants will transfer the eggs and young from one colony to the next to avoid moisture and temperature changes.

Pavement Ants

Geography

Pavement ants are found throughout the United States. They are major pests throughout the Atlantic coastal region, in the