Some ant species have managed to travel outside of their native range to establish populations in urban areas throughout the world. These ants are aptly known as “tramp ants” due to their tendency to spread throughout the world by hitchhiking in cargo. Of all ant pests, tramp ants are the most difficult to control for several reasons, one of which is their ability to rapidly establish new colonies in a variety of conditions without swarming. Some tramp ant pest species found in Texas include Tawny crazy ants, Pharaoh ants, dark rover ants, and big headed ants. The Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) is the most problematic tramp ant pest species in the country, as these ants readily form supercolonies that can consist of millions of individuals, making colonies impossible to fully eradicate. Tetramorium bicarinatum is a lesser known tramp ant species that can also establish supercolonies, and it’s a common indoor pest throughout Texas and the southeastern states.
bicarinatum is more commonly known as the “bicolered pavement ant,” and it’s closely related to the “pavement ant” (Tetramorium caespitum), which is one of the three most commonly managed ant pest species in the US. In general, ant colonies are hostile toward other ant colonies, even colonies of the same species. However, bicolored pavement ants are similar to Argentine ants in that two or more separate colonies will readily fuse to form supercolonies. In fact, bicolored pavement ant colonies from different continents will also readily merge upon mutual introduction. While outdoors, these ants nest in soil and rotting wood, and they feed on live and dead insects as well as honeydew produced by sap-sucking insect species. Bicolored pavement ants can readily establish nests within hidden indoor areas where they will feed on a variety of foods including meats, grease, sugary foods and plant-based foods. Workers of this species do not follow fixed foraging trails, which makes it difficult for pest control professionals to locate their nesting sites. However, many pest control professionals claim to have successfully controlled bicolored pavement ants with baiting systems. Workers of this species are relatively large at ¼ inch in size, and they can be recognized by their reddish-brown head and black abdomen.
Have tramp ants ever infested your home?