Citronella Ants: What Are They?

Group Of AntsMany different types of pests can infiltrate your house. One of the more interesting creatures in this category is the citronella ant, which is commonly found in the eastern U.S. Learn how to identify this pest with help from Horizon Pest Control, so if an infestation occurs, you'll know exactly what to do to rid your home of citronella ants.

Identifying Citronella Ants

There are two different types of citronella ant with some distinct characteristics and behavior traits that allow you to tell them apart. The two types include:

  • Swarmers: Given the name, you can probably deduce that this is the type of ant that will be seen invading your home. They are the larger species, measuring around 8 millimeters long. Swarmers have dark wings, and their bodies vary in color from a light yellow (females) to black (males).
  • Workers: As it stands, you're not likely to encounter this type of citronella ant, as they usually stay behind in the colonies to forage. They are about half the size of the swarmer ant and do not have wings. Most worker ants are yellow and have less color variation than swarmers.

Meaning of the Name

You've probably heard about citronella before. It's the plant that helps keep bugs at bay. This species of ant received their moniker because of the smell they release when they are threatened. The scent is very similar to that of citronella. Citronella ants will also emit a strong, citrusy scent when crushed.

Because of the odor these types of pests emit, you may be able to smell citronella ants before you even see the infestation, which serves as a helpful warning sign for these small creatures. If you're noticing a lemon verbena or citronella scent out of nowhere, then you should start checking your basement or ground floor for ants.

Citronella Ant Activity

Citronella ants are subterranean creatures that create their colonies underground in wooded areas, fields, lawns, and gardens. Because of their underground nature, their most likely entry point into your home is between the cracks in your foundation or sub-slab heating ducts. Citronella ants like to create their colonies in soil, so while they won't reproduce inside your home, they often set up shop in the soil near your foundation or within a crawlspace. If you see groups of ants that fit the description outlined above, check the lower floors of your house to find the source.

Infestations of citronella ants will come in swarms that may last a few days. Swarms will most often occur in mid or late summer but are also common in late autumn and early spring. These ants are not dangerous and do not cause damage to structures or any items in storage. As such, they should just be considered a nuisance and handled by a professional.

Taking Care of the Problem

Given that many of the insecticides used to eradicate citronella ants can only be used by licensed professionals, the best way to handle a swarm is to call an exterminator. Horizon Pest Control is equipped with comprehensive ant control methods to help solve your infestation problem. We serve homeowners in North and Central New Jersey, as well as Rockland County, NY and New York City. If you're experiencing pest issues, contact us today.

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