Allegheny Mound Ant Scientific Name: Formica exsectoides
Allegheny Mound Ant Identification
Similar to carpenter ants in coloration, the Allegheny mound ant has a red to red-orange head and thorax and black abdomen and legs. Worker ants range in size from 1/8 to ¼ inches in length. The Allegheny mound ant has a distinct “peak” on its single node and twelve antennae segments. The tip of its abdomen has a circle of hairs. The Allegheny mound ant is often mistaken for a “fire ant” but is different in both identification and behavior.
Allegheny Mound Ant Life Cycle and Food Source
The Allegheny mound ant spans the Midwest, New England, Nova Scotia, Canada and as far south as Georgia in America.
Like its name implies, the Allegheny mound ant builds some of the largest mounds of any other field ant species, getting up to as big as three feet in diameter. The mound is typically built in wooded areas, pastures, and fields. Within the mound, the colony of ants is fairly complex, often connecting several mounds. Tunnels in the mounds may go as deep as three feet into the ground and four feet up into the mound. These huge mounds are home to enormous numbers of individuals and are commonly found in the lawns of homes that are located near wooded areas or open fields. Unlike the carpenter ant, however, the Allegheny mound ant will rarely invade a human-inhabited structure.
Allegheny mound ants eat both living and dead insects as well as the honeydew produced by aphids and mealy bugs found in trees. With such a varied diet there is sure to be a plentiful food source for the enormous colony of the Allegheny mound ant. Because the Allegheny mound ant feeds on insects, both dead and alive, it acts as an important controller of insect populations but can become a danger especially if children are present.
Allegheny Mound Ant Life Cycle
The mound of the Allegheny mound ant acts as a sort of insulator of heat as the ant eggs and larvae incubate inside. With a short life cycle, numbers of the Allegheny mound ant can increase rapidly. The Allegheny mound ant will go from egg to adult in between 2 to 3 ½ months, depending on the temperature of the mound. Eggs are present in spring and early summer, cared for by worker ants in the mound. Most new ant colonies develop in late May and early June. Ant colonies may house anywhere from 500 to 10000 ants, depending on the diameter of the mound.
Allegheny Mound Ants and Humans
The mound of the Allegheny mound ant itself can be quite damaging to lawns and gardens, as can the tunnels built by the ants, but this ant also injects a special type of acid (formic acid) into plants and vegetation near the mound. Small trees and shrubs within 50 feet of the mount are subject to being poisoned by this acidic injection. Any grasses where the mounds are established can be killed as well. For this reason, the Allegheny mound ant should be immediately exterminated if mounds have been built in lawns or gardens.
Allegheny mound ants may bite humans or animals if the colony is disturbed, but are not known as an aggressive species of ants.
The Allegheny mound ant is not aggressive and not particularly pesky indoors, but can create a huge problem outdoors as ants in lawn and gardens can be a nuisance. Get rid of any mound in your lawn immediately; the formic acid injected into the ground by these ants can devastate grass and plants and the mound itself will pose a problem for your landscape.