Thief ant colonies are much like the ant itself, small. While the colony size can vary, most contain a few hundred to several thousand ants. However, the nest is typically large and connected to nearby nests of other ant species by tunnel. One species that they regularly interact with and steal from is the fire ant. Thief ants are able to prey on the workers and queens of fire ant nests due to their ability to mimic the colony’s odors. Because fire ants aren’t able to detect thief ants, their brood is left unprotected, allowing the thief ants to escape with food and larvae.
Thief ant nests can be found both indoors and outdoors. If outdoors, the nests may be found under stones, around foundation, in woodpiles, or in bare soil. If indoors, thief ants will typically create a nest near small cracks. This could be behind baseboards, beneath floorboards, in wall cavities, or in cabinets.
The thief ant’s name gives us a clue to its most notable behavior. Using their tunnel systems that connect to nearby ant nests, thief ants steal food from other ant species as well as their larvae. Unlike many other ant species, thief ants aren’t very aggressive. Rather than fight other ants, thief ants will typically try to avoid confrontation altogether. They would rather make a clean escape, and they often do. Due to their small size, thief ants often go undetected when stealing. However, if they are detected, thief ants will escape through their tunnels which are often too small for other ants to crawl through.
When not stealing from other ant nests, thief ants will travel great distances for food. Once they find a source, they will create a trail connecting the food source to the nest and will start mobilizing ants to retrieve the food.
You are more likely to see thief ants inside your house searching for food and water when it is warm outside. Thief ants get into your house through cracks. This can be through woodwork, foundation, or windows and doors. They enter your house in search of food and love to feed on greasy, protein-rich foods, and sweets in particular. Thief ants will be drawn to grease, cheese, meat, seeds and nuts.
In order to prevent a thief ant infestation you should:
Make sure your windows and doors are sealed off well.
Keep food stored in airtight containers in order to cut off the food supply.
Keep your kitchen surfaces and counters clean in order to disrupt any trails.
If you have pets, do not leave any food in bowls when they are not eating.
The best way to get rid of thief ants is by locating the nest and treating it directly. However, because these ants are so small and their nests may be out of reach, locating their nests can be difficult. You will also need to know that you actually have thief ants and not pharaoh ants. Given their similarities, this can be tricky to determine.
In order to make sure you are controlling thief ants properly and effectively, you should call your local Aptive professional to exterminate. Aptive’s dedicated team use the best, eco-friendly methods to effectively remove thief ants and ensure that your home is protected for the future.