Acrobat Ant

Category:

Actual Size: 2.5 to 4 mm

Characteristics: Light brown to black; heart-shaped abdomen when viewed from above.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: Swarmers or reproductives have wings.

Habitat: Prefers rotting and decaying wood and will inhabit old carpenter ant or termite galleries. In homes and structures, will nest in wall voids around doors, window frames, and insulation.

Habits:

  • Acrobat ants do not nest in sound wood, but are found in damp or rotting wood.
  • When excited or disturbed, acrobat ant workers raise their abdomens high above their heads.
  • Due to their ability to strip the insulation off of wiring, they may cause short circuits, creating a fire hazard.

Acrobat Ants in Vermont

Acrobat ants are occasional structural pests and are found throughout Vermont. They get their name from the acrobatic pose workers exhibit when alarmed, with the abdomen raised and arched above the head. Their stinger is shaped like a spatula, which they use to wipe their venom on smaller prey. Acrobat ants construct nests in hollow stems and twigs and also tunnel through soft damp wood much like carpenter ants. The ants practice mutualism, which means they tend aphids and eat the honeydew that they produce. When acrobat ants nest in homes and buildings, they typically nest inside damp wood or cavities kept moist from water leaks.

Acrobat Ant Habitat

Nesting in a variety of locations, acrobat ants usually nest outdoors in dead wood, including branches, stems of trees and stumps. They are not considered pests of trees and shrubs but they do protect aphids and other insect pests. Inside structures, acrobat ants nest in woodwork, sometimes moving into abandoned carpenter ant and termite galleries. When found nesting in a home, they prefer doors and window frames that have been damaged by other insects or moisture.  When searching for food, these ant pests prefer kitchen cabinets and pantries. Their presence, whether indoors or outdoors, indicates decaying wood.

Acrobat Ant Behaviors, Threats or Dangers

Worker acrobat ants are aggressive and will bite and also release a foul odor when provoked. Common reactions are mild and may last from a few hours to a few days. Although they do not generally nest in homes, if conditions are right and there is damp or damaged wood in the home, they may take advantage of the opportunity. A disturbing habit is their infestation of foam core panel insulation. Acrobat ants also strip the insulation off of wires, causing short circuits that create a fire hazard. If an acrobat ant infestation is suspected, it is recommended to contact a professional ant exterminator.