It doesn’t take much to feed a small ant. A few crumbs or a splash of juice under the kitchen table can feed dozens of small ants. Ants are scavengers, always looking for food to feed their immense colonies which can number in the tens of thousands. Spilled food and liquids on counters and floors, bits of food on dirty dishes stacked in the sink or dishwasher, grease splatters on the stove top, opened boxes of sugared cereal in the cupboard, and food scraps in the garbage provide a smorgasbord of treats that make the kitchen of your New Jersey home a prime target for small ant invasion.

Several species of small ants commonly invade New Jersey homes during the spring and summer, including odorous house ants (also called “sweet ants”), little black ants, pharaoh ants (also called “sugar ants”), thief ants (also called “grease ants”), and pavement ants. All are exceedingly tiny, ranging in size from 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch long. With the exception of the golden-colored pharaoh ant, New Jersey small ants are dark brown or black.

Outdoors, small ants feed on other insects and aphid honeydew, a sweet substance produced by garden aphids. When they enter New Jersey homes, ants will feed on nearly anything humans eat. Small ants are particularly fond of sweets, but will also feed on grease, fruits, vegetables, meat and bread. New Jersey home owners may find small ants swarming over food particles or marching in long lines across kitchen floors and into garbage cans. Their miniscule size also allows small ants to easily infiltrate food boxes and food storage containers in kitchen panties, contaminating food supplies.

With the exception of pharaoh ants, which carry dangerous bacteria and pathogens and are known to spread disease, small ants are not considered a health hazard to humans; but their persistent scavenging and vast numbers make small ants a formidable household pest.