We have a few ant species in our Bay Area that you might think are little black ants because they are, in fact, little...black...ants. But the little black ant is actually a species of ant known as Monomorium minimum. Why is it important to know what species you're dealing with? Because all ants do not have the same dietary and habitat preferences. Some ants eat sweet things, like nectar and honeydew. Some ants eat protein, like dead bugs. If you attempt to bait an ant with the wrong bait, you won't get results. It's also important to know whether or not the ant species will build a colony indoors. In the case of little black ants, the answer is yes. This can make these ants much more of a frustration. But you probably already know this. If the title of this article attracted you, it might be due to the fact that you're seeing these ants getting into your stored foods, climbing around on your couch in large numbers, or doing some other irritating thing. Don't worry. By the time you're done with this short article, you'll be a little black ant expert—well, almost. Here's what every Bay Area resident should know about keeping little black ants out.

ants on bathtub
ants eating sugar


If you see shiny black ants that are about 1/16 of an inch long and monomorphic (that means they're all the same size), they are likely to be little black ants. If you crush one and it smells a little bit like rotting coconuts, this will provide even more proof.


These ants are often called sugar ants because they have a preference for sugary food sources; they will, however, readily eat sources of protein, like dead insects. Any given colony can prefer one source and reject the other. Professionals test and evaluate before implementing treatments. It is important to get this right as there are many ways baiting can fall short of achieving the desired results.

  • If you apply a strong bait or deploy it incorrectly, it has the potential to make your troubles worse. Some colonies have two queens. If they sense that their workers are bringing poison back to the colony, it could cause budding to occur. This is when one colony turns into two.

  • When baits are deployed incorrectly, it can lead to bait aversion. This is when the ants start to reject the bait entirely, even though they would otherwise collect it.

  • When ants are indoors as well as outdoors, it could make your ant control efforts tricky. Professionals have many tools and strategies at their disposal to treat nests, apply baits, treat wall voids, and monitor the success of the treatments.

  • If you apply bait outside, it is possible to have weather conditions interfere with your treatments—sometimes in very undesirable ways.

What You Can Do To Deter Little Black Ants

There are pest management methods that help to get control of little black ants without the use of ant control products.

  • Little black ants are drawn to the exterior of your home by food sources. A primary food for these ants is honeydew. If you have aphids, whiteflies, scales, or some other plant-damaging pest in your landscaping, this can be a catalyst for a little black ant infestation within your home. These insects can be deterred by spraying them with water and catching them in a bucket of soapy water, and by being careful to not over-fertilize your plants.

  • Little black ants can find a meal in your garbage bins. Make sure your garbage is in plastic bags, particularly food items. Make sure your garbage is removed weekly. Deodorize your receptacles if they start to have an odor. Keep your receptacles covered.

  • Remove leaves, dead branches, scrap wood, grass clippings, and other organic matter.

  • Clean your gutters and make any necessary repairs to your gutters. This will help to remove water sources near your home.

  • If you have a hummingbird feeder, we suggest moving it away from your exterior.

  • Inspect your exterior and use a caulking gun to fill in any gaps or cracks.

  • Replace weatherstripping, door sweeps, and screens that aren't getting the job done.

  • Replace rotting wood or make repairs to areas that have splinters or holes.

  • Store your pantry food in sealed plastic or glass containers.

  • Keep your home as clean as possible.

  • Don't leave food out on the counters, uncovered.

  • Put pet food down only during meals.

  • Address leaky faucets and other plumbing issues quickly.

  • Install dehumidifiers in areas of your home that stay humid.

Keeping Ants Out All Year Long

If you have the energy to stay on top of yard maintenance, sealing entry points, and keeping your home clean, you probably won't have to worry about targeted ant control for little black ants. But life can get busy and it can be difficult to keep on top of things. This is where a year-round residential pest control program can really help. Reach out to Bay Pest to request a pest control evaluation. We help Bay Area residents keep all ant species out of their homes. 


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