A resident in Columbia Mobile Park had a storage shed adjacent to her home, and adjacent to the shed was a large ponderosa pine. There was a toaster oven box, containing the packing styrofoam, still in it.
Pine tree ants had moved a small satellite colony into the box, and were excavating a nesting site in the styrofoam block. Photos below.
Sample brought in to the office by Ryder Richards.
We came across a very unusual pine tree ant infestation. The resident of a house in Sonora, on Villas Lane, had been gone a week, and when he came back, found his kitchen floor covered with a fluffy, dusty material.
Examination revealed an infestation by pine tree ants, and oddly, these ants were attacking the insulation around a couple of kitchen appliances, an oven and a dishwasher. Typically these ants excavate in soft wood, such as rotted parts of pine trees, and Celotex ceiling insulation. I’d not seen them try to nest in appliance insulation.
The ants had a handy food source, about 20 feet from the appliances: a hummingbird feeder on the front porch.
23 June 2020
We had an unusual occurrence of velvety tree ants infesting a ceiling, inside a home, in the Sonora area. I have seen this type of infestation in the past, but it is rare, and we were able to document this case. Most commonly, it is pine tree ants, Liometopum luctuosum, that we see exhibiting this “nesting in the ceiling” behavior. But this one was velvety tree ants (confirmed by Dr. Philip Ward), and the velvety tree ants were there in large numbers.
Ron Walther reported that the ants were in the open beam ceiling, and were dropping larvae down onto the sofa and floor beneath.
After the application by technician Erik Brians, there were piles of dead and dying ants.
Pine tree ants, liometopum luctuosum, are a native ant that loves to nest in large pine trees that have some decay in them. Houses prove to be a suitable, or additional, place to nest. These ants excavate into lumber to create room for the nest, and they will carry the sawdust and throw it out. The sawdust can accumulate in large piles, under nesting sites. These photos of the sawdust were taken by Jose Rodriquez, at a residence in Forest Meadows, Calaveras County, California, October 2017.
A house in the Tuolumne City area had a long-term infestation of pine tree ants, Liometopum luctuosum. Native to the area, these ants like to nest in pine trees. In this case, some wall studs worked just fine. Photos by Jon Shattuck. Video by the home owner.
The images show the wall studs after our repair crew opened the wall.
Jon Shattuck collected samples of the debris from a pine tree ant (Liometopum luctuosum) nest. The contents are variable and represent dead ants, both adults and larvae, and the food they have been collecting. The sample came from near a nest in a rarely visited guest house in the middle Camp Road area of Twain Harte, 7 March 2017.
Click to enlarge.
This video taken by Ryder Richards in 2015, in Arnold California, shows pine tree ants, Liometopum luctuosum, in the ceiling of a house. You can hear the noise they make. It appears the ants excavated their way through the Celotex insulation, and the rift is in the egg storage area of the nest, as they are dropping eggs and larvae through the crack.
Here is an article by Jim Tassano, published in the Summer 1987 issue of the Voice of the Pest Control Operator of California. This is possibly the first article identifying liometopum luctuosum, the pine tree ant, as a structural pest.
Pine tree ants, Liometopum luctuosum, are common in the 2000-4000 foot elevation range in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. These ants prefer to nest in large pine trees. The colonies get quite large.
A Super Colony? Pine tree ants will almost suddenly appear in spring, trailing from pine tree to pine tree. I (JT) have followed trails from tree to tree, and basically see a web of interconnected trails. It seems they form some sort of super-colony. As mentioned in the previous post on pine tree ants, I once took some pine tree ants from Pine Mountain Lake, in Groveland, to Columbia College, in Columbia, during early spring when the ants are trailing out to set up spring and summer nests. I placed the Groveland ants along side of a large trail of Columbia ants, and the Groveland ants immediately joined the Columbia ants’ trail. This observation makes me wonder if they are not all part of the same super-colony.
In their spring efforts to set up nesting areas, pine tree ants often move into the ceilings and walls of houses. Homes built with Celotex insulation are common targets, with the ants tunneling through the insulation to make nests, and throwing out the insulation, into piles on the floor of the house or cabin.
pine tree ant, Liometopum luctuosum. Picture by Jose Rodriguez.
pine tree ant, Liometopum luctuosum . Picture by Jose Rodriguez.