Allegheny mound ant is a native species that can be found along
the Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia, Canada to Georgia. The most
conspicuous feature of this species is the large mound that is built.
These are accumulations of soil brought to the surface as the ants
excavate burrows and chambers that extend deep into the ground.
A 5 month-old mound can be about 2 feet wide and 8 inches tall,
within two years, mounds can be up to 3 feet tall. In infested areas,
mounds tend to be built in pastures that are grazed regularly and
mowed infrequently. They also can become pests in Christmas tree
plantings, nurseries, and turf.
is not the only negative aspect of these ants. They inject formic
acid into plants and vegetation near the mound. Small trees and
shrubs within 40 to 50 feet of large mounds can be killed. Studies
in West Virginia showed that 2 to 5 year-old trees near large mounds
are especially susceptible to damage but trees up to 8 feet tall
could be killed. If the ants become established in lawns, they can
kill the grass around the mound and their foraging activity can
may work or play in the area very unpleasant. They will bite if
the colony is disturbed.
of mound ants can increase rapidly. The life cycle from egg to
adult ranges from 2 to 3-1/3 months, depending primarily on
Eggs are present during the spring and early summer and the white
legless larvae are cared for by workers in galleries in the
These tunnels may go down 3 feet into the soil and extend up to
4 feet out from the mound. A process of "budding" results in
formation of new mounds as the ants spread out from the original
new colonies develop in late May and early June.
General population sizes associated with mound diameter are:
6" to 18"- 500 to 3,000 ants
18" to 36" - 1,000 to 6,000 ants
* 36" to 60" - 3,000 to 10,000 ants
ant population at a Maryland study site was estimated at 1,200,000
per acre- or about 27 per square foot.
ants feed on most any type of small insect or arthropod that they
can find as they forage or hunt over the ground. In addition
this protein source, the ants collect the carbohydrate-rich "honey
dew" secretions from sapsucking insects such as aphids and leafhoppers.
They rarely enter homes or buildings in search of food.
If control is necessary, the Allegheny mound ant can be controlled
by direct application of a residual insecticide to the mound. A
variety of products are labeled for ant control in lawns. Search
the area to locate mounds. For best results, the top of the mound
should be scraped away with a shovel to expose the large tunnels
below it. It is safe to assume that the ants will not ignore this
intrusion, so be prepared by having on long pants which have been
tucked into socks or boot tops. A brush will be useful to remove
ants that crawl on to you during the operation. After opening a
mound, pour in about one gallon of the diluted material per foot
of mound diameter so that it soaks into the soil. Repeat the process
at each mound.
from Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist, University of Kentucky
College of Agriculture, 2001