Most likely you've heard of a "flea circus'" but have you ever heard of acrobat ants? They would certainly outdo the fleas in any circus featuring "creepy-crawlies," as they appear to be able to walk on their hands and they do this when excited or agitated.
Actually acrobat ants, Crematogasters, are lifting their abdomen up and over their own head and thorax. The result gives the look of a professional acrobat, skilled at walking on his or her hands.
Like most acrobats, these ants have an excellent "high wire" act too. Many home infestations of acrobat ants can be traced to worker ants crawling along electrical and phone lines and entering the home through miniscule gaps by the wires.
The worker ants aren't the fun-loving circus types, they will bite if agitated, and just like a skunk, they can emit an odor that is disgusting and foul when alarmed.
Happily most of the time, these ants are content to live outside, feasting on insects, both live and dead.
They are never at a loss for finding a special spot to make their nests, as they nest in stumps, hollow logs, under large stones, in old, rotting trees, in piles of mulch, beneath stacks of firewood, under landscape timbers and bird baths. Not only are the flexible with their bodies, they're flexible with where they choose to live.
This is why sometimes they choose to come inside your home to nest. You can find them in wood, foam insulation, and even in the pantry. They have a sweet tooth, so to speak and will seek out sugary foods. Leave a steak on the counter and there's no clowning around; they'll be on it and consuming it with a deadly seriousness.
If you see grayish sawdust-like material coming out from under a floor joint or from behind a wall, very likely this could be excrement from the acrobat ant. If you have had a problem with carpenter ants in the past, this is another clue as acrobat ants like to take over where the carpenter ants left off.
If you have an infestation you will need to contact a professional, but for a small nest usually ant bait or sprays will clear up the problem.
There are 28 species of acrobat ants in North America in a variety of colors, but all with a heart-shaped abdomen and the ability to appear to walk on their hands.
With luck they'll never enter your home but if they do, you'll know what species of ant is crawling on your counter top: if it's "hand walking" over to your sugar bowl, you've got yourself an acrobat ant and it will be up to you to let it know that the fun is over and the circus has left town.