Moisture ants are wood-destroying insects that look like carpenter ants due to their similar nesting habits but have varying physical and behavioral features.
What Do Moisture Ants Look Like? Moisture ants appear yellow or yellowish-brown in color, and they are around 3 to 4.5 mm long. Moreover, they live in moist places and build nests within decaying or rotting wood. Their colonies are moderate in size, with a single queen and thousands of workers.
The presence of moisture ants within buildings or outdoors can be a warning sign for possible dangers associated with them. Their bites are generally not painful but cause structural damage.
Drainage problems and decaying wooden furniture can cause these to appear within the house, so you have to remove the wet wood to keep these damaging pests at a distance.
What does a moisture ant look like?
Moisture ants are named for their special attraction to moisture, and they prefer to live in areas of high humidity by building nests in moist places.
Moreover, this group comprises multiple species of insects, including yellow or citronella ants and cornfield ants.
Some people consider them carpenter ants due to their living habits on decaying wood, but they have different morphological features.
These insects have yellowish-brown and light to dark brown colored bodies, while carpenter ants are black or dark brownish.
In addition, the citronella ants are also included in this category of moisture-loving ants having brownish-yellow bodies and are also known as yellow ants for body color.
These are named for their characteristic odor; they smell like citronella or give off a lemon-like scent when crushed. These insects have long antennae divided into 6 segments.
Similarly, their bodies have fine hair and possess a heart-shaped gaster or a wider head. They can sense changes in the environment using a pair of antennae on their heads.
How big are moisture ants?
Moisture ants are not smaller species as their bodies are almost 3 to 4.5mm long, which can gain more length if they get a proper diet.
Environmental conditions and genetics also play a crucial role in determining their body length and weight, as the males are usually bigger than the worker population.
These drones or winged males can reach approximately 4 to 6mm in body length on average. In the same way, the queens or winged females are bigger than males as they have larger abdomens.
They can reach around 6 to 9mm in body length as they have to store a large number of eggs in their bellies, while workers are sterile members that do not reproduce.
In addition, the drones and queens get nutrition from workers and usually remain inside the nests. They have to participate in the mating process only.
Accordingly, they gain more body weight and length due to a good diet and fewer physical activities. However, the workers have to perform daunting duties like food collection and nest cleaning.
What is the colony size of moisture ants?
Moisture ant colonies have varying sizes depending on external factors, including the availability of nutritious food, the type of ants, and environmental conditions.
Their colonies are moderate in size, containing hundreds to thousands of insects within one nest, while their population can rise to around 8,000 to 10,000 workers under favorable conditions.
Moreover, their colonies are monogynous, containing only one queen that takes control of the nest population and produces new offspring in the summer or spring season.
In addition, their colonies contain a large population of worker ants that are sterile females and participate in the nest activities to ensure the colony’s survival.
These worker ants are almost 85 to 90% of the population of the colony, while the remaining 10 to 15% comprises male drones, queens, and larvae.
The number of male drones and fertile females increases during mating seasons when they leave the nest after maturity and start their own colonies at desirable locations.
What do moisture ants eat?
Moisture ants primarily feed on floral nectar and honeydew, which are sweet secretions rich in carbohydrates and provide instant energy to these tiny creatures.
They eat honeydew produced by sap-sucking insects like aphids as they build mutualistic relationships with aphids to eat their excrement.
In the same way, they can also associate with other honeydew-producing insects, like scale insects and mealy bugs, to eat their secretions and provide protection.
This sweet and sticky liquid is the primary source of nutrition for these tiny insects, but these omnivorous insects also eat dead insects like flies and spiders.
When their colonies grow rapidly, they switch from carbohydrate-rich foods to proteinaceous food because larvae and queens need more proteins.
In addition, they can eat cooked chicken eggs, and larvae of insects and scavenge on dead insects or animals to fulfill their dietary requirements.
How long do moisture ants live?
The lifespan of moisture ants in a colony depends on the caste, as every caste lives for varying life spans due to different genetics and environmental challenges.
The males or drones usually have the shortest lifespan in a colony as they take around 2 to 3 months to become an adult and die within a few weeks after getting mature.
In addition, the workers live longer than males because the colony relies on these efficient members, as larvae and other members cannot survive without their support.
They bring food inside nests and regurgitate the particles to feed the inactive members of the colony and locate a safe location for relocation of nests.
However, the queens have the longest lifespan within the colony and spend almost 10 to 12 years with the nest members.
The workers give a chance to other fertile females in a colony after the death of the queens.
This way, the colonies survive for many years until there are fertile females to replace the dead queens; otherwise, the colonies cannot survive for more than a few weeks.
Furthermore, the risk of predators and other environmental factors also affect their lifespan because they can die earlier if the predator kills them.
Where do moisture ants live?
Moisture ants are commonly spread in North American regions and found throughout New England, Mexico, and Florida.
Their habitat includes moist areas around house foundations, the soil under decaying wooden logs, and leaky pipes or faucets in the kitchen and bathroom.
Moreover, they get attracted to wet places and choose highly humid conditions to build their nests, like areas close to rivers and streams.
You can find these moisture-loving ants living in wall voids and moist wood because they can easily chew the wet wood to create tunnels or tubes to hide.
Furthermore, the wild insects build their nests in the forests and wetlands, where they choose decaying or rotting wooden pieces or twigs to construct tunnels.
You can see piles of soil around concrete slabs when these tiny creatures are digging tunnels within the soil under the concrete floor.
It is essential to kill their rapidly growing population to protect the buildings from structural damage because moisture ants can damage wooden structures.
You can ask for professional help to deal with their bigger populations because exterminators can treat their mounds with insecticidal sprays.