Several ant species in the Dorymyrmex genus are known pests of homes and yards. These species are commonly referred to as “pyramid ants,” and they can be found throughout Texas. These ant pests get their common name from the shape of the nesting mounds that they frequently build in residential yards, but other sources state that the name derives from a pyramid-shaped projection below their head. These unsightly dirt nests are between two to four inches in diameter and they can become prevalent on turf-grass, possibly resulting in costly lawn damage. Pyramid ants feed on honeydew, and they often invade homes in large numbers in order to secure sugar-rich food sources.
Workers of the pyramid ant species known as D. bicolor are relatively small at only 2 mm in length and their head and upper body are reddish-brown in color. This species is most abundant in the western half of Texas. D. insanus, is another pyramid ant species found throughout Texas, and workers are around 1.5 to 2 mm in length with a uniformly brown body color. D. pyramicus is the most widespread and commonly managed pyramid ant species in Texas, and they are around 1.8 inches in length. These ants possess a red or reddish-black head and upper body and their abdomen is entirely black. Pyramid ant colonies contain between a few hundred to a few thousand individuals, and reproductive alates take flight from nests during the summer months in order to establish new colonies. Alates can become a nuisance within and around homes due to their habit of swarming around lights.
In addition to seeking out human food sources, pyramid ants will also invade homes in order to secure moist conditions during bouts of dry weather. Although workers cannot sting, they are unusually aggressive toward humans, and will readily inflict painful bites. In order to eradicate nesting colonies on residential lawns, pest control professionals inject insecticides directly into their nesting mounds. Baits are also effective for eliminating pyramid ant infestations, especially when professionals cannot locate the primary nesting site where the single queen resides.
Has your lawn ever become damaged by ground-nesting ant pests?