Prenolepis imparis, or the small honey ant, is a common ant pest in houses throughout much of the United States, and like most ant species, honey ants are most abundant in the southern states. Generally, ants are most active during the warmer months before entering into a dormant state during the winter season. However, small honey ants are unique in that they are most active during the winter when temperatures are between 35 and 55 degrees in Texas. Amazingly, these ants have been found emerging from their underground nests when temperatures are in the single digits.
Small honey ants usually infest homes by entering in large numbers from outside nests, but they also establish indoor nesting sites on occasion. It is not uncommon for reproductive alates of this species to swarm indoors during the colder months, particularly from January through March, but seasonal mating flights are most frequent during the spring. Foraging worker ants of this species are determined home invaders where they seek out a variety of human food sources such as grains, meats, fruits, vegetables, and especially sugars. Foraging workers gain access indoors with ease due to this species’ habit of nesting within expansion joints where concrete slabs make contact with foundations. Small honey ants also eat away at garden flowers and landscaping plants, and entirely colonies have been found infesting both indoor and outdoor potted plants.
Small honey ants workers can be recognized by their dark brown to black exterior and relatively small 2 to 4 mm body length. Queens of this species resemble workers, only they are around twice their size. Homes that become infested with small honey ants should be inspected thoroughly, especially around the foundation. Indoor infestations usually see multiple outdoor nests that each contain multiple queens. Luckily, pest control professionals can destroy nests with relative ease by injecting insecticide into their small nesting chambers, which contain hundreds or a couple thousand individual ants.
Have you ever found ant pests feeding on your indoor food items?