Viewed from above, acrobat ants have a heart-shaped abdomen. They elevate the abdomen in the air when they are disturbed. This is how they got the name “acrobat”. They bite aggressively and produce an unpleasant odor when they are threatened.
In a colony of acrobat ants, all of the workers are the same size. Scientists use the word monomorphic to describe this. Acrobat ants are usually about 1/8″ long. The color can vary – some colonies are light brown and some are black. Occasionally there is a colony of acrobat ants that are multicolored.
Outdoors, acrobat ants live in holes in trees, rotting logs, and under piles of leaves. They eat insects and honeydew. Aphids that suck the juice from leaves produce the honeydew. The acrobat ants often make tiny shelters to protect the aphids while they are feeding. When they move indoors, the ants eat sweets and meat if it is available.
Acrobat ants often use tree limbs or utility lines to enter houses. They also enter through doors and weep holes in brick exteriors. Indoors, they frequently nest in wood that is rotting or has been damaged. When they find wood that has been damaged by termites, the acrobat ant workers clean out the galleries and use the wood as a nesting site. Acrobat ant workers have often been found excavating galleries in Styrofoam sheathing and insulation.
Indoors, acrobat ants often make nests in the wall voids around windows and doors. They have been found removing the insulation from electric wires. Many times homeowners are unaware that acrobat ants are active until they start to see the debris that the ants push out of the nesting sites. When the ants are nesting in an exterior wall, the homeowner often finds Styrofoam debris on the ground outside.
A careful inspection is the first step in preventing acrobat ants from invading. Trim tree limbs that touch the house. Make sure exterior doors close tightly and replace missing weather-stripping. Small pieces of plastic screen can help keep the ants from entering through weep holes.