How to Get Rid of Pavement Ants

pavement ants

Pavement ants are a particularly tricky pest. You might not notice a couple here and there but as time goes on, the problem grows, and suddenly you’re watching lines of ants march all over your window sills and floors. There are many methods on how to get rid of pavement ants, but it mostly boils down to preventative measures. 

The pavement ant is tricky to spot due to its tiny body. Although many different species of ants commonly invade living spaces, the pavement ant is among the most common ants seen by North American homeowners. We’ll dive into what these little insects are, how to control pavement ants, and ways to prevent them. 

What are pavement ants? 

Pavement ants look like tiny, black, oval-shaped pests about 1/8 of an inch in size. It’s found throughout the United States and prefers to dwell in walls (particularly masonry), floors, and insulation. But they’re aptly named for one of their most common habitats–– underneath concrete slabs or pavement.

These ants are covered in grooves from their head to their thorax. Instead of one node like most ants, pavement ants have two right behind their thorax. While pavement ants have stingers, they mostly use them to release pheromones to communicate with other ants. Pavement ants are also the same species as sugar ants and love anything sweet.

These ants have a voracious appetite for just about anything and dine on stray morsels of food like meat, nuts, cheese, seeds, fruits, honeydew, and even other insects. While they do not pose a public health risk, they will contaminate any food sources they get into. Pavement ants forage in lines and go as far as 30 feet at a time to find food sources. 

How to get rid of pavement ants

pavement ant
AfroBrazilian | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

If you’re already dealing with a pavement ant problem, take some practical steps to reduce their population. Keep in mind that the best way to get rid of ants is by combining termination and preventative measures. 

Bait your ants 

To target an entire ant nest, your best course of action is likely setting bait traps. Ant bait is a method of ant control containing a preferred food source mixed with poisonous insecticide. Killer ant baits are attractive to foraging worker ants who take the bait back to the colony, killing off the entire nest over time by sharing the poison. Ant bait most commonly comes in a station package, gel, or liquid form.

Always read the labels and description for your bait. Some ant baits are harmful to pets and children.

Spray insecticides 

Instead of a contained package like baits, sprays are used to kill off a select few ants and are more of a spot treatment than anything else. Spray ants you see directly to kill them on site. 

Keep in mind that directly spraying an ant nest is not very effective against an entire infestation either. While it might do the trick for a couple of ants that were close to the surface of the nest, the ants that survive will dig out alternative pathways to avoid the insecticide altogether and continue living and foraging in your home.

Apply insecticide dust   

Insecticide dust kills many different insects and is just as effective against ants. The dust coats the ant and sucks out all of their body fats and oils. Some common insecticide dusts include: 

  • Diatomaceous earth is a powdered material made up of fossilized, tiny aquatic organisms known as diatoms. Food-grade DE is safe to use around pets and children. However, do not inhale this material, as it can irritate the lungs. 
  • Boric acid is a sodium salt, also known as borax, that’s very effective against roaches and ants. Handle with caution, as it is toxic and causes poisoning in humans and pets. 

When applying insecticide dust, spread thin layers of it near ant activity, such as baseboards, doorways, and thresholds. Sprinkle insecticide dust around the perimeter of any structure you’re trying to protect to keep ants out. Once your insect dust has done its job, clean it up thoroughly. 

How to prevent pavement ants in your home

Ryan Hodnett | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Exclusion is key

Successful ant control is commonly defined through the lens of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). In this approach, it’s essential to look at pest prevention holistically rather than as a problem to only be improved with pesticides. Exclusion is a big part of IPM and is a great way to keep your ant problem from growing or even starting in the first place.

Some fantastic ways to practice exclusion when controlling pavement ants include: 

  • Seal cracks and crevices with caulk in the floors, doors, and windows. 
  • Trim down tree branches or any plants that swipe against the surface of your home. Ants will use them as a bridge to the walls. 
  • Avoid using wood-based mulches around the home’s foundation. Try using something dry, like gravel, around the perimeter of your home. 

Keep your space tidy 

Ants are always looking for food, so keep your space clean and food locked away to prevent them from feeding and growing their colony. Some practical steps to take include: 

  • Store food in airtight containers if going in a pantry, cupboard, or shelf 
  • Immediately clean up spills or crumbs 
  • Take out your trash regularly 
  • Disinfect surfaces and floors regularly, particularly kitchen floors and counters
  • Eliminate or reduce clutter 
  • Wash your dishes in a timely manner, so there are no food sources sitting out for too long 
  • Clean up pet food and don’t let it sit out for too long

Limit moisture 

Pavement ants are highly attracted to moist environments. Reducing moisture in your home looks like any of the following measures: 

  • Get rid of any free-standing water 
  • Use a dehumidifier 
  • Have a new ventilation system installed or improve your current one 
  • Dry or replace wet structures and wood around the home 
  • Invest in good moisture-reducing insulation 
  • Repair leaks around the home 

FAQ about pavement ants

How do I identify pavement ants in my home? 

To identify pavement ants in your home, look out for mounds and ant trails. You might first start noticing dirt mounds outside on the lawn, near the pavement, or driveway. These host a colony of pavement ants. Trails of ants are typically spotted on the floor, crawling in or out of crevices in the home, or at entry points like doors and windows. 

Do pavement ants bite or sting? 

Pavement ants are not aggressive. While pavement ants sting, they’re so small that you’re unlikely to feel it. However, some people have allergic reactions to their tiny stings. Seek medical attention immediately if you or someone you know has an allergic reaction to an ant bite. 

Can pavement ants cause damage to your home? 

Pavement ants do not cause structural damage to your home. While they are a nuisance and can contaminate food, they will not destroy wood or other building materials.

Bring in the professionals

Seeing large numbers of ants crawling all over your home doesn’t have to be your reality. When treated by a professional, pavement ant infestations are pretty manageable. Hiring a local pest control pro can help put your mind at ease and restore peace back to your home.

Main Image Credit: Paul Harrison / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Sandy Choephel

Sandy has been a freelance writer for several years and has expertise in content creation, social media, and ghostwriting. On top of being a professional writer, she is a full-time musician and multi-instrumentalist.