I’ve read that pavement ants have a stinger, but I’ve never been stung by one. Can they sting and should my customer’s be concerned about it?
It’s true, pavement ants (Tetramorium caespitum) have a stinger, but they rarely use it. Found throughout most of the United States, the pavement ant is one of the most common nuisance ant species in the Northeast and Midwest. Winged reproductive ants are often seen during their mating flights in the spring and are sometimes confused with termites by consumers. Pavement ants often nest under slabs, patios or landscaping features. Pavement ant stingers are so small that they generally cannot penetrate human skin and are not considered a threat to human health, so your customers don’t need to worry about getting stung by these pests.
I recently found velvet ant in my customer’s yard while performing a perimeter pest control inspection, how can I manage them for my customer?
Contrary to their name, velvet ants aren’t actually ants at all. They belong to the family Mutildae (ants are in the family Formicidae). Mutilids are a family of solitary wasps. The females, which are what you mostly observed, are wingless and almost always hairy and brightly colored. Velvet ants may be found with bright red, purple or orange and black markings. Like many other venomous animals, the bright coloration is a warning to stay away; the females have an extremely painful sting, earning them the nickname “cow killers”. Males have wings but are stingless and rarely encountered.
Velvet ants are parasites of other insects, most commonly ground nesting bees and wasps like bumble bees and cicada killer wasps. The females locate the nest of the host (sometimes through use of force) and lay eggs in the brood chamber. When the larvae hatch, they consume the eggs and larvae of the host. Adult velvet ants typically feed on nectar.
Velvet ants aren’t pests, but since they can deliver an extremely painful sting, you should encourage your client to make the yard less inviting to the host species that females are searching for. Bare patches in grass are often an inviting place for cicada killers, so they should be repaired, especially if cicada killers have been sighted in the past. Luckily, unlike hornets, and yellow jackets, velvet ants are not social insects, so there is no nest to be concerned about and typically the sightings are few and far between.