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What Are Sugar Ants and How Do I Get Rid of Them?

Discover how to get rid of these sweets-loving pests.

Ever leave behind the tiniest sweet crumb or drip of syrup on a countertop or floor, only to come back a short while later and find a group of tiny ants feasting on it? You may even have a name for the ants: "sugar ants." If you have these pests nesting in your home, it's really no surprise. That's because ants have exceptional odor-sensing abilitiesā€”and sugar, in just about any form, is highly attractive to many ant species.

What Are "Sugar Ants"?

When it comes to food preferences, ants are often sweet-seekers, grease-eaters (also known as protein ants), or everything-eaters. In the United States, "sugar ant" is a generic term for any type of sweet-seeking ant. Don't confuse U.S. "sugar ants" with the real sugar ant, the banded sugar ant, which is found primarily in Australia. The only thing identical about these ants is their sweets-loving nature.

Types of "Sugar Ants"

The term "sugar ants" encompasses several types of ants, including some that nest outdoors and only come inside to feed on sweets, as well as others that prefer to nest and feed inside a homeā€”possibly your home.

Outdoor "sugar ants" include:

  • Acrobat ants
  • Cornfield ants
  • False honey ants
  • Little black ants
  • Rover ants

Indoor "sugar ants" include:

What Attracts "Sugar Ants"

Of course, "sugar ants" are attracted to sugar. Since sugar comes in many forms, it can be helpful to know what types of sugary foods they tend to prefer. The most obvious is sugar in its most sugar-like form, including white, brown, and powdered sugars; honey; corn, maple and other syrups; and jams, jellies, and preserves.

"Sugar ants" also feed on cake, candy, fruit, nectar, soft drinks, and honeydew. Honeydew includes the melon kind, of course, but also the sticky, sugar-rich liquid secreted by other insects, such as aphids, which are commonly found on houseplants.

How "Sugar Ants" Get Inside

"Sugar ants" invade indoor spaces, including kitchens and pantries, looking for sweet treats. They find their way inside much like other bugs and pests do: through cracks in the foundation, gaps around doors and windows, and tears in door and window screens.

How to Control "Sugar Ants" Outdoors

If you're bothered by "sugar ants" when you head outside, arm yourself with OrthoĀ® Home DefenseĀ® Insect Killer for Lawn & Landscape. Use around trees, shrubs, porches, patios, and stored lumber or wood piles to kill ants and more than 200 other listed pests.

As you've probably gathered, despite their nickname, "sugar ants" aren't sweetā€”they're a nuisance. Fortunately, dealing with them doesn't have to be difficult. These simple tips can help you get control over "sugar ants" and keep them from coming back.