Pavement ants measure around 1/8-inch in length and have brown to black bodies, pale legs and antennae. These pavement ants are found throughout the Eastern United States and are major pests in the Upper Midwest. Pavement ants earned their name because they nest in cracks in driveways and under the sidewalks, piling the resulting dirt in a mound on top of the pavement.
Pavement ants also dwell in the undersides of logs, bricks, stones, boards and patio blocks. Pavement ants may also nest under mulching or open soil close to the building foundations. They seldom nest indoors, but when pavement ants do enter buildings, they are seen under floors, inside insulation and within walls.
Pavement ants undergo complete metamorphosis, passing through the egg, larval and pupal stages before becoming adults. Unlike other ants, pavement ants mate for several days, and the period of their mating is lengthened by heat and humidity. Mating swarms can contain an extremely large number of reproductives.
A classic colony of pavement ants includes multiple queens and numerous workers. A queen establishes a fresh colony of pavement ants by laying eggs. Pavement worker ants then tend the queen’s brood until they develop into mature adults. During their development period, broods are transferred from location to location to protect them from fluctuations in moisture and temperature.
Pavement ants will feed on a wide range of foods, including meats, grease, live and dead insects, seeds and honeydew from aphids. They prefer to eat greasy foods, and can eat the majority foods consumed by humans. They forage for food up to 30 feet from their colonies and set up trails to food sources from their nests. Pavement ant workers enter houses to forage and can become a nuisance when big groups infest a kitchen or garden patio. They are not aggressive, but they can bite and sting.