Fort Lauderdale, Florida — In early 2017, researchers spotted the little yellow ant for the first time in the continental United States. The little yellow ant is a tropical species, native to Madagascar. In the last decade, the species found its way to the Caribbean and now has been found in Florida. The little yellow ant is invasive, has a high reproduction rate, builds supercolonies with multiple queens, and has excellent foraging skills.
Little Yellow Ant Habitat
Relatively new to the United States, not much is known about the little yellow ant. In south Florida, nests were detected in dead branches of vegetation, both on living trees and on twigs resting on the soil surface. Little yellow ant workers and queens were found foraging on the nectar of flowers. In addition to foraging for nectar, these ants were also observed tending aphids and feeding on dead insects.
Indoors, foraging ants were eventually found infesting a home. The household invasion originated from the garden as ants entered the structure foraging for food. Worker and queens were observed on kitchen countertops feeding on pet food.
Little Yellow Ant Behaviors, Threats or Dangers
The little yellow ant does not bite or sting. However, this tiny ant has the ability to displace larger native ant species. In a Fort Lauderdale neighborhood, researchers observed that in just six months, the tiny yellow ant displaced the big-headed ant colony that was dominant in the area.
Large colonies were detected in neighborhoods covering several city blocks. At less than 2 mm in length, little yellow ants can be hard to detect. Over time, colonies spread out and grow to extremely large numbers, making them very difficult to control.
In addition to being a household pest, the little yellow ant can potentially impact Florida agriculture. Researchers reported that the new invasive ant is strongly associated with aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects, which can harm crops and ornamental plants.
Little Yellow Ant Prevention
Although not much is known about little yellow ants, there are precautions homeowners can take to prevent an infestation. Pick up pet food and clean area after feeding. Trim back trees, and shrubs from the exterior of your home. Check potted plants for ants before moving, seal cracks and crevices on the exterior of your home, and make sure you keep tight-fitting lids on outdoor trash cans.
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