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Citronella or Yellow AntCitronella Ant or Large Yellow Ant

Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Scientific Name: Acanthomyops interjectus
Color: Yellowish
Legs: Six
Shape: Segmented; oval
Size: Workers, 1/16-1/8"; queens, 1/4"
Antennae: Yes
Flight: No

The Large Yellow ant is often called a Citronella ant because when the workers are disturbed or crushed, they give off a strong citronella odor.

Citronella ants forage below the surface of the soil and are not seen on the soil surface under normal circumstances. They feed on the honeydew produced by subterranean aphids and mealybugs, which feed on the roots of trees and other plants. The workers are not seen foraging in homes and buildings; rather it is the winged reproductives, called swarmers, that enter buildings in early- to mid-spring. These males and females enter the home from cracks in the foundation or through subslab heating ducts. The sudden appearance of hundreds of these swarmers is often disconcerting to homeowners. The swarmers also have the strong, characteristic citronella odor.

These ants are ground dwellers. Citronella ants locate their colonies within the soil under items such as stones, logs and landscape timbers. They also may be found in the soil under mulch next to building foundations, or they may locate colonies in soil underneath slab floors and in crawl spaces.

They are primarily a nuisance and pose no public health threat.

Colonies do not require control unless the swarmers are entering the home or building. Even then, treatment may not be possible because it is difficult to know exactly where the colony is located under the foundation. Sealing the cracks in the floor where the swarmers enter may stop the swarm from entering a home or building, but the ants may find other cracks.
Reduce ant habitat by removing rotting wood and debris from cellars, outbuildings and yard. It may be desirable to create a debris free band about 3 feet wide around the house. All living plants and all refuse, including wood or pine needle mulch, should be removed from around the foundation.

Reproductives that emerge within a structure or crawl space will not survive because the interior habitat is not suitable for starting a new colony, so no control measures are necessary. Indoor swarms of reproductives may be removed with a vacuum cleaner.

(Source: National Pest Management Association, et. al.)