While servicing one of my commercial accounts in Middletown, NJ, a pizzeria, the pizzaiolo (that’s what you call a pizza-maker — pest control techs learn a lot on the job!) noticed some ants crawling around the pizza oven. Sure enough, ants were trailing from an outside wall right over to the oven. Upon closer inspection, these were pavement ants. Pavement ants are small blackish ants that often make their nests in or under pavement cracks (hence their name).
Pavement ants pretty much eat anything, including flaked-off burnt pizza crust, not just products containing sugars. They feed on insects, meats, seeds, and sweets, and are especially attracted to meats and grease — and this kitchen was full of both. Pavement ants commonly infest structures near their nests while foraging for food and even climb masonry walls in their search for food. They are particularly problematic in structures using slab-on-grade construction.
Even though ants avoid excessive heat, the food debris around the oven was too tempting to pass up. I observed the ants feeding on all sorts of crumbs and workers were carrying food back to the nest. These ants, which can be as small as 1/16 of an inch, don't need much of an opening to find their way inside a structure.
To rid this kitchen of this ant infestation, I did an inside/outside treatment. This involves applying a non-repellant insecticide to all cracks and crevices on the interior, followed by a thorough exterior treatment right outside the kitchen. These professional-grade products are designed to infect the ants as they travel so that they carry the product to the colony. Although, it "feels good" to kill some isolated worker ants foraging for food, an ant infestation will not be resolved until the product finds its way back to the nest so that the queen, along with the entire colony, is killed.
Unfortunately, insect infestations are common in restaurants and other food preparation facilities. For these types of businesses, it is especially important to call in a pest control professional at the first sign of trouble. I recently visited this account to re-inspect and, great news: There were no signs of ants — just delicious-smelling pizza!