Velvety tree ants get their name from their smooth velvety abdomen. The name of “tree ants” comes from the fact that most species of these ants make their nests in trees. The workers are between 1/8″ to ¼” in length. The abdomen is glistening velvety black. The mid-section is reddish and the head is brown. If someone crushes a velvety tree ant worker, it releases an unpleasant odor. The workers also give off that odor if the colony is disturbed. The workers do not sting, but they bite if the nest is disturbed. Velvety tree ants make their nest in the crooks of trees. Depending on the location, they nest in oaks, sycamores, cottonwoods, and pines. They also nest in the soil under rocks and inside logs or stumps.
Velvety Tree Ant Habits
Named for their appearance and habitat, velvety tree ants have abdomens that are covered in fine hairs. Besides the fact that they typically nest in trees, not much is known about this specific species. It is believed that velvety tree ants may be polydomous—that is, capable of sustaining and using multiple nests at a time.
Similarly to carpenter ants, these ants are known for their wood destruction and will carve out tunnels and nests in wood (even though they don’t eat it). Rather, velvety tree ants are omnivorous and feed on a wide range of substances, including protein and sugary substances.
Preventing and Controlling Velvety Tree Ants
The best prevention methods for velvety tree ants are the same common methods used to prevent other types of wood-destroying ants:
- Fix leaks immediately to avoid dampened wood
- Remove any decaying or rotting wood immediately
- Seal all utility pipe entrances or other entrances into the walls or home.
- Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional for it, inspect the exterior of your home four times a year.
- Remove dead stumps or trees around your property.
Dealing with a velvety tree ant infestation is often best left to seasoned professionals.