The little black ant as it is commonly called is a native ant that occurs over much of the eastern United States including North Carolina. It is unique because of its extremely small size and shiny black appearance. Workers are only about 1/16-inch in length. The pedicel consists of two segments and the antennae are 12-segmented with a 3-segmented terminal club. There are no spines on the thorax. These characters are easily seen under magnification.
Little Black Ants Colonies
Colonies are moderately large, with multiple queens and several thousand workers. Under ideal conditions, queens may live for a year and workers up to four months. Workers have a stinger which they use to fight larger ant species over food resources. The stinger is too small to affect people. Outside, little black ants nest primarily in dark, protected areas under stones or rocks, in rotting logs, in lawns, or in open areas. Workers feed on other insects, alive or dead, honeydew produced by aphids, plant secretions, even bird droppings.
How Little Black Ants Enter Homes
Because of their small size they can easily enter homes through the smallest cracks and crevices, and their foraging trails can be easily spotted from outside on foundation and siding walls. Once inside, they will build their nests in woodwork, wall voids, baseboards, and under carpeting. They are omnivorous but prefer to feed on sweets, seeds, meats, and oily foods.
The best way to control these ants is to locate the foraging trails and work back to the main colony.