Help! I Can't Keep Sugar Ants Out of My Yakima County, WA Home

October 5, 2021


The term ‘sugar ants’ is generally used to describe small ants in the kitchen, bathroom, or in a pet’s food bowl. Sugar ants are beneficial outdoors. They return nutrients from plant matter, decaying animals, and other things to the soil. However beneficial they are outside, they are not welcome indoors. 

pavement ants crawling on food

Description of Sugar Ants

In Yakima County, you are likely to encounter three types of ants inside your home. Each of these looks a little different, but they all cause problems. 

  • Odorous house ants (Tapinoma sessile) are only 1/8th of an inch long and are dark brown or black. They get their name because if you squash one, it releases an odor that is sharp and distinctive. It is variously described as being a petroleum product smell to rotten coconut smell.
  • Pavement ants (Tetramorium caespitum (Linnaeus)) are about the same size and color as odorous house ants. They are an introduced species that probably arrived in the soil ballast of merchant ships in the 1700s and 1800s.
  • Pharoh ants (Monomorium pharaonis) are another imported ant. They are light yellow to red with a darker thorax. Pharoh ants are tiny, only 1/16th of an inch long.  

Problems Sugar Ants Cause

Having ants in your home is unpleasant. While these ants are not particularly aggressive, they can carry diseases. When they crawl over the counter, food preparation areas, food preparation utensils, or in food, they can leave E. coli, shigella, or salmonellosis in their wake.

Pharoh ants are a special problem. They also spread salmonellosis, staphylococcus, clostridium, and streptococcus. They will invade IVs and wounds and make healing very difficult. If you have a vulnerable person at home, you need to be especially careful about these ants. 

Lifecycle Of Sugar Ants

Different ants have slightly different habits, but they all have queens and workers. The workers are the ones that you generally see. 

  • Odorous house ants usually nest just under the soil under pavers, rocks, and other debris. They will also nest in walls or something warm, such as a hot water heater closet. Their nests can contain about 10,000 individuals with multiple queens. While they do reproduce by swarming, they also bud. About 100 ants take eggs and larvae and a few queens and establish a new nest. In this way, they form a supercolony of genetically related nests.
  • Pavement ants are rather mysterious. They nest under pavement, building slabs and large rocks, so scientists can’t dig up the nest and see what it looks like. They get inside through cracks in the foundation and walls.
  • Pharoh ants also reproduce by budding. They do not, however, reproduce by swarming. This is unusual. They nest in small voids, such as behind baseboards or cabinets. They like dark, moist nesting places, and the nest is usually hard to find. 

Preventing Sugar Ants Inside

Because these ants are so tiny, it can be difficult to keep them out. Here are some things to try.

  • Caulk any foundation and wall cracks.
  • Caulk around pipes, electrical wires, and cables where they enter the house.
  • Remove debris in the yard.
  • Keep the grass mowed.
  • Put food in glass or metal containers ants can’t get into.
  • Wipe up food spills promptly.
  • Pick up clutter.
  • Make sure door and window screens are free of holes and fit tightly.
  • Make sure door sweeps are in good condition with no gaps.

Get Professional Help

Unfortunately, while preventative measures can help, it is more a question of ‘when ants invade’ than ‘if ants invade.’ Getting rid of them is very difficult because they move to a new site when harassed. Prosite Pest Control can help.

When you call us, we will come out and inspect your home. We then develop a customized home pest control plan to eliminate all your pests, including ants. When the pests are gone, we will start coming out monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly, depending on your wishes and situation. Contact Prosite Pest Control today and get rid of the ants in your house. 




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