Small Honey Ant


Actual Size: 2 to 4 mm

Characteristics: Smooth and shiny body, light to dark brown in color


  • Also known as the winter ant as it prefers cool temperatures.
  • Prefers sweet household foods such as sugar and fruit but will eat meat and bread.
  • Active above ground during winter.


The small honey ant is a native species, sometimes referred to as the winter ant because it is colder tolerant than other ant species that infest structures. Found throughout the U.S. this ant ranges from Nebraska, south to Texas and Florida and also occurs in New Mexico, California, Oregon and Washington. Colonies are small, containing only a few thousand individuals. Colonies may survive for nine years and workers may live up to two years.

Small Honey Ant Habitat

Also known as the winter ant, this species is active in cool temperatures, foraging even at temperatures a few degrees above freezing. Small honey ants nest in damp soil in shady places, seldom under stones or other objects. They build a crater of small soil pellets surrounding a single entrance. Workers commonly invade homes to forage for food, and occasionally to nest. They will also nest beneath slab foundations and enter buildings through expansion joints or cracks.

Small Honey Ant Behaviors, Threats or Dangers

Small honey ants do not bite or sting and are mostly seen as a nuisance pest. They commonly invade homes from outdoors but are capable of nesting indoors. Entire colonies have been detected in potted plants. They damage roses and other plants by gnawing on flower buds to obtain sap. Small honey ants tend aphids and scale insects for their honeydew, a favorite food. As household pests, small honey ants feed on all varieties of sweets, but also on bread and meat. Much like other ant species, small honey ants will contaminate food in homes as they forage and can be difficult to control and eliminate.

Small Honey Ant Prevention

To deter small honey ants from infesting your home, keep your kitchen clean, quickly wiping up sugary spills. Pick up pet food and clean area after feeding. Place trash cans, compost piles, and gardens away from the exterior of the home. 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 install door sweeps on exterior doors.