More than 1000 ant species can be found in North America, including cornfield ants. Despite their name, cornfield ants can be found in many different habitats, including your backyard or even inside your house. Here are five things you need to know about cornfield ants.
What do cornfield ants look like?
Cornfield ants can vary significantly in appearance. They tend to be a yellowish-brown color, though some of them may be dark brown or even black. Workers are about 3 mm long, while queens can reach lengths of about 8 mm. To the untrained eye, these ants look very similar to carpenter ants, but if you look closely, you will notice that cornfield ants have cinched waists, while carpenter ants are rounder.
Where can you find them?
Cornfield ants are part of a genus of ants called "moisture ants," and like other ants in this genus, they are attracted to high-moisture areas. You may find them nesting in moist, rotting wood in your basement or in other water damaged areas of your home. Outdoors, they can be found hiding beneath patio stones, logs, rocks, or other items which trap moisture.
What problems can they cause?
If you find cornfield ants nesting in your home, you may be concerned that they are damaging the wood. Fortunately, cornfield ants only make their tunnels in wood that is already damaged or decayed; if you find cornfield ants nesting in your home, the wood was ruined before the ants moved in.
While cornfield ants won't ruin your home, they can cause other problems for you. They forage for sweet foods like jam, honey, bread, and sugar, and if they get into your cupboards, your food will be contaminated.
How can you get rid of them?
Some types of ants are hard to get rid of because they have numerous queens, but fortunately, cornfield ants do not fit into this category. Cornfield ant colonies only have one queen, and if you can kill this queen, you can easily destroy the colony.
To do this, you need to locate the colony and determine the paths that the ants are using to travel around your backyard or home. Once you have this information, purchase ant bait stations and place them in strategic locations such as beside the opening to their nests and along the paths they used to travel.
Foraging ants will take the bait back to their colony and feed it to their queen and to the other workers. Once the queen is dead, population growth within the colony will be stopped, and it is only a matter of time until all of the workers are dead as well.
How can you keep them from coming back?
Once the ants are gone, you'll need to take steps to prevent more cornfield ants from moving in. Cornfield ants leave pheromone trails for other workers to follow, so you will need to remove these trails to prevent future ants from following the trails into your house. There are many different ways to remove these scent trails, but the easiest way is to fill a spray bottle with vinegar and then spray the trails. The vinegar covers up the scent that the ants left behind and makes their trails useless.
If your house has a moisture problem, it's important to deal with that as well. Fix leaking pipes or inadequate ventilation to reduce moisture buildup inside your home, and if any of your wood is damaged due to flooding, replace it as soon as possible. Getting rid of the excess moisture removes the ants' preferred habitat, so they will have to live somewhere else.
Cornfield ants can cause big problems for homeowners, so if you see them around your house, make sure to deal with them right away. If you're having trouble getting rid of them by yourself, contact a pest control company right away for further assistance.