Monomorium minimum, or the “little black ant” as the insect is more commonly known, is a widely distributed ant species that is a well known pest of homes and buildings where they have a tendency to infest stored food items, particularly sweets and greasy foods. Little black ants are aptly named due to their relatively small size at 1.5 mm in length, and they invade homes from both outdoor and indoor nests. In the natural environment, these ants nest in rotting wood, open areas, and in soil located beneath stones, logs, and piles of lawn debris. Their nests can sometimes be recognized as small soil craters, and workers found foraging indoors often originate from outdoor nests located near or against housing foundations.

In homes, little black ants have been known to establish one or more nests within obscured areas such as wall voids, ceiling voids, masonry foundations and woodwork. Due to their natural habit of feeding on honeydew secreted by certain insects, like aphids and scales, little black ants are often found nesting and/or foraging within pantries and kitchen cupboards. If even one jet black little black ant is found within a home, the specimen should be properly identified and removed before it establishes a foraging trail that leads to an indoor food source.

Little black ants are often identified by the odor of “rotten coconuts” they emit when threatened or crushed, and if multiple workers are found indoors they likely emerged from an indoor nest, while the indoor presence of one or more winged swarmers (alates) indicates an outdoor nest. Placing sticky traps around indoor areas where the ants have been spotted can help to indicate where the ant pests are nesting. Little black ants often emerge in homes that are surrounded by excessive mulch, vegetation and high moisture. Indoor nests are also usually located in high-moisture areas, and if an indoor nest is found, a pest control professional must be contacted for its removal. While these ants prefer sweets and greasy foods, they are often found infesting fruits, vegetables and meats. Sealing cracks, crevices and other entry points on a home’s exterior will help to keep these ants from invading a home.

Have you ever discovered little black ants near food in your home?