Acrobat Ants: How to Identify and Rid Them From Your Home

What Are Acrobat Ants?

Acrobat ants (Crematogaster) are primarily a species of tree-dwelling ant known for the trait of suddenly raising their abdomen when threatened. Acrobat ants are not dangerous biting ants but can be a nuisance.

Acrobat ants range in color from black to brown and have a heart-shaped abdomen (hence the Saint Valentine ant). The average acrobat worker ant measures 1/8” in length. Queen acrobat ants are three times larger.

Acrobat ants
Acrobat ant/ Photo credit: Klejdysz

Acrobat ants actively hunt other insects like grasshoppers and wasps by stinging their prey and injecting them with venom. An acrobat ant attack is initiated by foragers who locate and immediately begin their attack while secreting a pheromone that brings the assistance of other nearby ants. 

Acrobat ants have a pad-like organ on the underside of their feet (arolia) formed by extending the last tarsal segment on each leg. These pads let acrobat ants carry their prey back up the tree and into their nests.

Related: How long do ants live?

Related: What do ants eat?

Acrobat ants: Habitat

Acrobat ants prefer to make their colony’s nest in trees but will build nests in firewood, inside tree trunks, and cavities in dead trees. Like coyotes, they will also reuse abandoned nests of other ants and termites. 

Outside, most acrobat ants nest under rocks or in logs, firewood, and trees where wood decay allows them to create tunnels. They also build their nests in abandoned cavities carved out by other insects, such as termites and carpenter ants. Acrobat ant nests are usually located in moist and dark settings.

In your house, acrobat ants have a terrible habit of stripping your electrical wire’s protective coating and building their own nest on them. This can become a fire hazard.

Odorous Ants: How to Identify and Get Rid of These Pests

Acrobat ants
Acrobat ant nest in a tree. Photo credit: Kumarj

How to keep acrobat ants out of your home.

Acrobat ants really are not interested in nesting inside your home. However, it is possible they will forage around and cause potential problems.

To keep acrobat ants outside and away:

  1. Consider using a broadcast acrobat ant killer to create a acrobat ant proof, 5,000 square foot perimeter around your home for the next 6 months. It also can be applied directly to existing mounds.
  2. Cut back any vegetation that could serve as a bridge for acrobat ants to access your foundation (or roof for squirrels).
  3. Seal off any holes or cracks around windows, pipes, conduits, or doors. I like to use a pest blocker foam to keep hornets out of the sheds on my farm.
  4. Keep food sources covered and practice some light housekeeping every day.

Do you have an issue with other stinging or damaging ants? Read these suggested articles:

How to identify and get rid of fire ants.

How to identify and get rid of carpenter ants.

Beware of the red veil event ants.

How to get rid of harvester ants.

Acrobat ants
Acrobat ants feeding on a dead grasshopper. Photo credit: Swee Ming

How to get rid of acrobat ants in your house.

The only way to get rid of acrobat ants in your house is to find their nests. But, unfortunately, the only way to find their nests is to follow them home like you were a cop in an old movie.

Place some sugary bait where they will eventually find it, and sit back and wait. It may take a few days for the acrobat ants to find the bait, and you may not catch them at it right away. If needed, keep adding bait.

Eventually, some lucky acrobat ant will find your sugary treat and leave a scent trail back to the nest. Once it gets home, all the other ants will head for that bait pile like carb-seeking missiles.
Now you just have to put a tail on them. Those acrobat ants returning home should lead you to a crack or opening between the floor and a wall or behind a cabinet before disappearing.

Now all you have to do is drill a series of small holes (just big enough to admit the nozzle of a boric acid applicator) to cover a 5-foot wide area around the acrobat ants’ entry point. This should allow you to puff enough boric acid into the void and come into contact with most of the nest.

Using boric acid works best because even if the nest is outside, the poisonous boric acid doesn’t kill the carpenter ant until well after it has returned the delicious poison to its nest and fed its queen and other workers. Boric acid is a foraging ant’s worst enemy—it tastes delicious but kills them.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr. is a former Marine Sergeant and the author of several books, including two on night hunting coyotes and red and gray fox. He has written several hundred articles on predator hunting for

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