Native Pyramid Ants

Beth Bolles
Horticulture Extension Faculty
Escambia County
bbolles@ufl.edu

Because of our experience with stinging fire ants in Florida we are often concerned when we encounter ants in our landscape. And, while our first thought might be to apply insecticide treatment to the area, we should adhere to the first step in pest management--before you treat know the insect you need to treat. If you cannot identify the ant then take it to your county extension office so they can identify the specific ant species you have. This is important because there are native ants found in our area that are not harmful and can serve a purpose in the landscape

Pyramid Ant mound in mulched area. Photo Credits: Beth Bolles, Escambia County Extension

The pyramid ant is one native ant species that does not require pesticide treatment. Pyramid ants are found throughout the state in sandy, dry soils. They build a small nest with a central entrance hole and the workers are often seen searching for food on top of the soil. Their food sources include live insects, such as winged fire ants, and honeydew excreted from piercing sucking pests. The ants move very quickly on top of the soil but don’t be too alarmed because pyramid ants do not sting.

Think carefully before using an insecticide to treat pyramid ants in the landscape. The ants are filling a space and once they are gone, some other species can invade. Most often that other species is the dreaded fire ant. Without competition, fire ants can easily set up residence in an area once inhabited by the pyramid ants.