Are They “Cut Ants” or “Parasol Ants”? Exploring Ant Treatment for Infestation

For centuries, ants have been admired for their work ethic and the intricate colonies they create in the soil. These little arthropods have colonized every continent on the planet except Antarctica and can live for several years. Leaf cutter ants, also called parasol ants or cut ants, are famous for cutting leaves and carrying them back to their homes. Impressive, right?

While we cannot help but respect these tiny powerhouses, they often colonize residential areas, causing respect to turn into resentment. Cut ants can wreak havoc on trees and any other vegetation in the yard, robbing plants of their foliage, but the leaf cutter ants do not feed on the leaves themselves. Yes, you read that right. Even though they devote their lives to cutting leaves, they do not actually consume the foliage. So, what do cutter ants eat? They take the leaves back to their homes where they will grow fungi– and that fungus is what the ants feast on. 

What Are Leaf Cutter Ants?

Before we can discuss how to deal with leaf cutter ants, homeowners first need to be able to identify them. These ants are typically between ½” and 1 ½” in length and are identified by their reddish-brown color, four spines, and rough exoskeleton that helps them keep their grip on the leaves they carry. They use their mouths to saw –or cut– leaves off of plants and can carry up to 50 times their body weight.

Even if you do not get a good look at the ants themselves, it is easy to spot their activity in the yard. They are most active at night and they form mounds – or ant hills – on the ground that can be over a foot tall and a foot in diameter. 

Are Leaf Cutter Ants Dangerous?

Leaf cutter ants may be bad news for vegetation, but they are not aggressive with humans or pets in the same way harvester ants – also known as fire ants – can be. Here are some of the ways cutter ants are different from harvester ants: 

Harvester Ants VS Cutter Ants

• Primarily harvest seeds as food• Primarily harvest leaves to create a fungal food source
• Do not typically bite or sting people or animals• Will bite and sting people or animals who disturb their mounds

Harvests Ants and Cutter Ants both…

Colonize in mounds on the ground and should be soaked in the insecticide to terminate.

How to Deal With Cutter Ants: Spectracide Triazicide

Sometimes cutter ants and healthy lawns simply cannot coexist and it becomes necessary to eliminate them. An insecticide like spectracide triazicide typically works well in combat zones where it is spectracide triazicide vs. cutter ants. The chemicals from this insecticide can kill cutter ants, harvester ants, and funnel ants both above and below the ground. 

It is best practice to spray the ant hill during the day to target most of the ants when they are at home in their mounds. You can also spray around the foliage and any obvious pathways, creating a barrier. Of course, there are other cutter pesticides available.

Leaf Cutter Insecticide

Neem oil is another common insecticide used for ants, including cutter ants. While this product can be great for a minor cutter,  harvester, and funnel ant infestation, it is not usually able to effectively target large mounds. Regardless of what insecticide you use, though, the most important factors are thoroughly targeting the mound with plenty of product and using it to create a barrier around the plant life you wish to protect. 

The Mistmaster® 3-in-1 Compact Misting System

The Mistmaster is a fantastic system to use when targeting ants in the yard. This versatile apparatus can be used as a stationary repellent, sitting on the patio, deck, or yard– or you can use its various accessories to target specific areas.

The Misting Wand Kit is a great tool for targeting cutter ant hills and protecting plants. Use the wand to spray around trees and plants in the yard, as well as spray insecticide directly on the ant hills. For dense foliage, the extra-long Misting Wand Kit XL can help you target those hard-to-reach places in the yard. Just plug it into the Mistmaster system and spray any infested areas. The coiled tubing makes it easy to store and the ergonomic grip helps you make sure you attack all those important crevices. 

The Mistmaster does not only have to be used with insecticide, though. It can be used to spray sanitizer, deodorizer, or fertilizer also, promoting the overall health and well-being of your home or business. 

While cutter ant infestations in residential yards are becoming more prevalent, there are great options for protecting yourself, your pets, and your foliage. Using the right insecticide with The Mistmaster can be a great way to invest in the health of your yard year-round. 

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