Velvety Tree Ant Scientific Name: Liometopum occidentale
You know the classic scenario: it’s a warm summer day in the park and you lay down your red-checkered blanket and set out the contents from your picnic basket, but before too long you have some extra guests in the form of ants! These picnic ants are actually velvety tree ants, famous for being aggressive and territorial. Velvety tree ants may be seen scurrying up and down trees. They are red to black in color with a shiny, velvety abdomen. When crushed, these ants emit an unpleasant odor. Velvety tree ants nest in moist wood and in the crooks of trees, and often enter the house via a branch that is touching the house. They love anything sweet, especially honeydew excreted from aphids.
Velvety tree ants are quick to bite you even if you’re doing yard work and indifferent to the little pests. Often they will also inject a poison with the bite. The bite will be very painful but can be treated with over-the-counter medications such as an after-bite cream and an ibuprofen to alleviate the pain.
Velvety Tree Ant Control
In most cases, it is best to call a professional when dealing with velvety tree ants because of the aggressive nature of the ants and the usual above-ground nest. The professional will use one or more of the following methods to get rid of velvety tree ants.
Insecticide barriers: This treatment is way more effective than any “No trespassing!” signs you may have put up. It consists of putting insecticide chemicals on or close to places of entry for velvety tree ants. One example involves putting a coating of insecticide on doorsills to kill or repel intruding ants.
Poisoned baits: Sponsor a feast for your unwanted guests. This treatment entails putting out toxic, sugar-based bait that velvety tree ants readily carry back to their humble abode for their—unbeknownst to them—last meal.
Nest toxicants: This method involves spraying or dusting the nest site. Professionals may spray the infested tree or drill holes in wall voids indoors to lay down some insecticide dust.
Velvety Tree Ant DIY Pest Control
Though it’ll be a tough undertaking to get rid of velvety tree ants on your own, here are some things you can do. Good luck!
Outside insecticide: Spray aerosol pesticide around the nest and all over the surrounding area. In the case of a tree nest, spray the trunk and branches thoroughly.
If you can’t beat ’em, feed ’em. Put out a sweet liquid or gel bait for the velvety tree ants to carry home to their queen. As these ants love aphid honeydew, use sugar-based bait.
Dust insecticide: For velvety tree ant nests located indoors or inside wood, apply a thin layer of dust insecticide with a hand duster. If needed, drill a hole to get to the nest.
Velvety Tree Ant Green Solutions
If you’re interested in an environmentally-friendly way to rid yourself of thief ants, consider the following green solutions to discourage these ants from coming back.
Stop the leak. Cut down on areas of frequent moisture, such as leaks from the hose spigot. Reduce damp areas in your house by using a dehumidifier.
Caulk and block areas of entry.
Trim the tree. Trim back trees and shrubbery away from the house to destroy any natural bridges. Cut off decaying or dead parts of trees.
Can’t touch this! Move mulch, woodpiles, stones, and bricks away so they aren’t touching the house as those materials often house ant colonies.
Do some home improvement. Replace leaky pipes and moist materials, and patch up any holes in screens. Clean out gutters.