- Size: About 2.5 to 3 mm long
- Color: Dark brown to black
- Distinctive Feature: Nest in cracks of sidewalks and foundations
- Habitat: Under pavements, rocks, along sidewalks
Pavement ants, scientifically known as Tetramorium caespitum, are small insects, generally measuring between 2.5 and 4 millimeters long. They are characterized by a color ranging from dark brown to black. These ants have strong mandibles and are easily recognizable by their two distinct nodes on the petiole, located between the abdomen and thorax. Unlike some other ant species, they do not have wings, except for reproductive members during the mating flight period.
Pavement ants get their name from their preference for urban habitats, especially paved areas like sidewalks, driveways, and building foundations. They build their nests under stones, paving slabs, along sidewalk edges, or in concrete cracks. These ants can also establish colonies in house walls or under floors. They are attracted to human-modified environments where they find both shelter and easily accessible food sources.
Pavement ants are omnivorous and opportunistic in their diet. They feed on sweet substances, plant matter, dead insects, and sometimes even human waste. Active mainly during the warm months, they are known for their aggressive behavior when defending their nest. These ants establish well-marked trails between their nest and food sources. During the breeding season, colonies produce winged males and females that leave the nest to participate in mating flights. After mating, males die, while fertilized females seek a new location to establish a new colony. Their ability to adapt to various urban environments and their varied diet make them particularly resilient in human-inhabited areas.
Distinguishing Pavement Ants from Other Insects
Pavement ants are generally larger and darker than Pharaoh ants. Pharaoh ants measure about 2 mm and are light yellow to red in color. Moreover, Pharaoh ants prefer warm and humid environments and are often found in kitchens and buildings, whereas pavement ants are more common in outdoor paved or rocky areas.
Carpenter ants are significantly larger than pavement ants, measuring up to 13 mm long. Additionally, carpenter ants prefer wood, especially moist or rotten wood, to build their nests, unlike pavement ants which favor paved areas and ground cracks. Carpenter ants can also cause structural damage to wood.
Little black ants, although similar in color to pavement ants, are smaller, measuring about 1.5 to 2 mm long. They also differ in their nesting behavior, often preferring to settle in walls, under floors, or in woodpiles, and they form very visible trails when foraging for food.
Earwigs are easily distinguishable from pavement ants. They have elongated and flattened bodies with characteristic pincers (cerci) at the end of their abdomen. Earwigs are also larger, measuring up to 25 mm long, and do not have the complex social structure of ants. They are often found in moist areas and can feed on plant materials and insects.