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Thatching Ants are also known as “mound ants” because they construct mounds from small sticks, grass stems, leaves and pine or fir needles. They may also nest in decayed logs. Under most circumstances, thatching ants should be considered beneficial, since they are fierce predators of other insects. However, when they occur in lawns, rockeries, picnic areas and other areas of human habitation, they can become a severe annoyance.
Thatching ants are often injurious to seedling trees or plants near their nests, and they have been known to damage the buds of apples, pears and other fruit trees in the spring. The landscape can be visually disrupted by the presence of their mounds. Physical contact with them is also displeasing, since they can bite quite hard and usually spray the area they have bitten with formic acid to produce a painful sensation which can result in a blistering of the skin if it is not washed.
An interesting phenomenon demonstrated by thatching ants, as well as other ants, is the habit of “herding” and maintaining colonies on trees, shrubs and weeds. This occasionally leads to an aphid problem because, while keeping aphids for their sweet honeydew, they protect the aphids against natural control organisms such as wasps and ladybird beetles.
Be sure thatching ants are indeed a threat if you find their mounds on your property. Frequently, they do not pose a serious problem and no control is recommended.
Baits: Thatching ants can sometimes be eliminated with baits containing boric acid or hydramethylnon. Often a combination of bait types works best. Repeated bait applications are usually needed to eliminate the colony. Dusts: Thatching ant nests in buildings can usually be eliminated with boric acid, diatomaceous earth or pyrethrins. These can also be applied to cracks and crevices used by the ants as travel routes into problem areas. In addition to eliminating them in buildings, however, the ants should be followed to find other nests outdoors.