Acrobat ants are a distinctive species known for the unique balancing act that they can play. When they feel threatened, these ants can carry their abdomens above the rest of their bodies, earning them their moniker. Viewed from above, you’ll notice that these ants have a heart-shaped abdomen that distinguishes them from other common species. Under magnification, you can see that these ants have a pair of spines along their back that provide another distinguishing element.
In the wild, acrobat ants feed on honeydew, a waste secretion collected from aphids and other insects. The ants protect these insects from other predators in return for the food source. Acrobat ants may also feed on other live or dead insects. In the home, they will feed on both meat and sweet food products that are left out.
Acrobat ants prefer to nest in decaying wood. Outdoors, you can find them in stumps, logs, or firewood. When they enter the home, acrobat ants typically use small openings around electrical or telephone lines or cracks in the woodwork, door frames, and window frames. If a home has previously housed termites or carpenter ants, acrobat ants may set up house in the abandoned galleries. As they clear out unused cavities, they often leave small piles of sawdust and debris, which are a telltale sign of an infestation in the home.
Similar to other ant species, acrobat ants have winged reproductive males and females. These typically take to the air in the fall for their mating season. Winged swarms are one sign of a nearby colony. After mating, the females will leave to establish their own colonies.
Once they have taken up residence in a home, acrobat ants can do damage in many ways. They may strip insulation from telephone or electrical wires, shorting the circuits, disturbing insulation, and enlarging wood cavities created by other insects. They can live in and around door and window frames or build their nests in insulation.
When disturbed, acrobat ants may release an unpleasant odor. They’re usually considered a minor nuisance, but it’s important to note that the presence of acrobat ants in the home usually indicates the presence of damp or rotting wood as well, which is equally important to address. The best way to handle an acrobat ant infestation is to remove the nest, which may require the assistance of a pest control professional.