Moisture Ant

Lasius subsericea

All about the Moisture ant

Moisture ants build large and obtrusive nests, and often venture indoors for a midnight snack, so they are definitely considered a pest to homeowners. Removing and replacing wet or rotting wood will usually do the trick, but for a widespread problem call a professional.

What does a Moisture ant look like?

An average sized ant, the Moisture ant is about 1/8 of an inch long. It is dark brown or yellow in color and similar in appearance to other species of ants. Characteristic features include a notch on its back, especially visible from the side, a wide upper lip, and hairs around the end of the abdomen.

Where does the Moisture ant live, and what does it eat?

The Moisture ant is commonly found in the Pacific Northwest but is found throughout the north and Midwest U.S. as well. As its name implies, it prefers to nest in moist places so it can have a wide range of habitats.

These ants nest readily outdoors and indoors where moisture is concentrated. Colonies contain a single reproductive queen ant. Commonly in rotted or fallen trees and other lumber, but also in rotted or moist wood of homes. The Moisture ant has even been known to build nests around leaky pipes. When looking for a Moisture ant nest, look anywhere that is susceptible to excess moisture:  near gutters, leaky plumbing, windowsills, and drains. Outside look near places that come in contact with moist soil:  porch steps, support beams, and low siding. Other signs of a Moisture ant nests include trails, tunnels, and sawdust. This ant will often carry debris and soil to its nesting site to construct a carton nest:  a nest that resembles a dirt clod that is often fastened around a water pipe, onto a wooden sill plate, or in a rotting wall stud. Moisture ants are monomorphic, meaning all workers are the same size.

Moisture Ant damage

Damage left behind by a colony of moisture ants.

The Moisture ant’s diet consists mainly of the honeydew of aphids, and will even care for young aphids in order to harvest their honeydew. Other insects like mealybugs, whiteflies, and planthoppers are favorite sources of honeydew for the Moisture ant. The Moisture ant will also feed on anything sweet, including food items in your kitchen.

How long will the typical Moisture ant live?

Winged Queen Moisture ants mate in late September and October (the swarming season) then seal themselves in a small nest in rotted wood or soil to lay their eggs. The worker ants then care for and feed the ant larvae until they pupate. The adult ants will then emerge as workers and begin the cycle again.

Moisture Ants and Humans

The major concern associated with Moisture ants is the fact that they reside in moist wood. Whether the wood was moist before the ant colony nested there or not, you have a problem with moisture if you have a problem with Moisture ants. Most of the time, wood was in advanced stages of decay by the time the Moisture ant colony started nesting there. It is very important to remove and replace moist and rotted wood immediately:  both for the safety of your home’s structure and to eliminate nesting sites for this ant. Additionally, if nests are found indoors near pipes, replace leaky pipes and any other moisture-damaged materials around them. Although the Moisture ant is not a serious structural pest, and will only venture indoors in search of sweets or where significant sources of water can be found for nesting, it can speed up the deterioration process as it tunnels into woods, expanding its colony.

Moisture Ant infestation

Moisture Ant infestation because of wet drywall

How are Moisture ant bites treated?

A Moisture ant bite can sometimes exhibit signs of redness around the affected area. Apply an antibiotic ointment and apply ice to the affected area. When bitten by a pest, always remember to properly identify the culprit so that the best remedy can be used.

How to Get Rid of Moisture ants

The first thing to do when seeking to control a Moisture ant problem is to locate any sources of moisture in your home. Check especially bathrooms and kitchens for leaks, but also do a close inspection of wall studs, framing, and outdoor wood that may be moist and rotting. The Moisture ant commonly leads homeowners to a more serious form of pest like Carpenter ants or termites.

Professional Moisture ant Control

If you find that you have a serious infestation of Moisture ants, you’re most likely dealing with bigger problems than ants. It is important to kill off any colonies nesting in or around your home, but the problem won’t be permanently fixed until all moist and rotting wood is removed and replaced. If numbers are unmanageable on your own, seek the employment of a pest control professional to rid your home of this water-loving pest.

  1. A professional will always start by identifying the source of the ant infestation. This will lead them to the colony, then they can take action to eliminate it. The benefit of employing a professional is that they use commercial-grade pesticide and they know how to use it.
  2. Bait ‘em and Hook ‘em:  Bait and trap the ants to control numbers immediately. Obviously this is fruitless if the nests have not been destroyed, but can be a good way to locate the nest or kill off any stragglers.
  3. Powder or dust pesticides are occasionally used when colonies are widespread. Powders or dusts cover a larger surface area.

DIY and Green Solutions for Moisture ant Control

Many ant infestations can be controlled without the use of a professional pest control company, and even without using toxic insecticides. Keep in mind that prevention may be the most effective method of all:  again, be sure to identify and eliminate your moisture problem first.

  1. Clean up shop: Moisture ants will forage indoors for food, especially if they are nesting in or near homes. Especially attracted to sweet things, they will find a spill or left out food faster than you can say “Ant!” Keep food in the kitchen in airtight containers and clean up all spills immediately. Dispose of food-contaminated rubbish in an outdoor trash receptacle.
  2. Outside: Moisture ants love moisture! Go figure. Keep wet and loose soil, mulch, grass, and other debris away from the foundation and exterior of your home. Immediately identify and replace any rotting or moist wood to keep the ants from nesting there. Seal off any cracks or openings through which the ant may enter with caulking, urethane foam, or lumber.
  3. Sweet poisoned baits are a bit of a paradox, but are perhaps the best way to locate the nest of a moisture ant. Place baits around areas you think may be near nesting sites. This will trap many ants, but until the nest is located widespread eradication isn’t likely.
  4. Liquid Insecticides should most often be applied by professional pest control companies, and is not necessarily a “green” solution but many natural or organic solutions can be purchased at garden stores. If you know positively where the nest is, try drenching it in insecticides. You should only use chemicals labeled for Moisture ants, though, or you could cause a rebound in population.