The Argentine Ant

Argentine Ant

By S. Rae from Scotland, UK – Linepithema humile (Argentine Ant), CC BY 2.0,

Argentine ants (Linepathema humile) have invaded almost every continent in the world, and thus are common household pests in places across the planet. They are known to displace other ants, and can be a nuisance to humans as well. Their rapid breeding process and large super-colonies ensure that they are pretty hard to get rid of.

HOW TO IDENTIFY ARGENTINE ANTS

  • Argentine ants are light brown to dark brown in colour
  • Body length ranges from 2.2mm to 2.8mm
  • Their antenna is segmented into 12 portions
  • They have a smooth, hairless body

Appearance, Behavior and Signs

  • Argentine ants prefer moist areas, such as mulch, home foundations and under rotting wood.
  • They often invade human spaces during the winter to seek shelter
  • They enter houses during summer as well in search of water
  • They are known to displace other species of ants
  • They live in colonies, and are known to make supercolonies that have numerous queens and sub colonies
  • They are attracted to decaying matter
  • They can set up their colonies in cracked walls, spaces between boards and behind decaying floorboards and walls
  • They move very fast, and often shift their nests due to the presence of threats
  • Water is highly important for them, which is why they infest households
  • They often move between nest to nest, and the queens can be seen commuting between these two locations as well
  • Argentine ants from different nests do not attack each other
  • If another ant species has abandoned its nest, Argentine ants will take over and house themselves there

HOW DO YOU GET ARGENTINE ANTS


How do you get Argentine ants. By Thmazing – Own work, Public Domain,

Argentine ants can invade your home during summers looking for water. They drink from leaky taps and other water sources, and often set up their nest in the kitchen. They are increasingly thriving in urban places, despite having originated from a completely different habitat. These ants also enter homes during the winter, through cracks, pipeline openings, and other entry points, as they need shelter from the harsh weather. They can squeeze in through the smallest of cracks! They can set up their nest in walls, floorboards and other areas. Moisture is what they primarily seek.


HOW TO GET RID OF ARGENTINE ANTS


Getting rid of these ants isn’t an easy task. Due to the presence of numerous queens and shifting nests, it is not possible to directly tackle source of the infestation in one go.  Spraying them with insecticide won’t help, as you will not be able to kill all the queens at once. You can prevent the entry of Argentine ants into your home by making sure there are no cracks and openings that they can use.

Also keep an eye out for rotting wood around your house! Fix any leaky taps as well. A professional pest control will be able to handle the situation appropriately. In certain cases, Argentine ant colonies have extended across entire blocks in cities – you don’t want it to go to that extreme! Here are two methods commonly used to kill Argentine ants –

  • Borate-sucrose water baits are toxic to these ants (ratio 25% sucrose water and 1% boric acid)
  • You can even spray their nest with water – they might relocate to another location

Argentine Ant Facts


  • These ants were native to Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil, but have now spread across the world
  • They have adapted brilliantly to the urban environment
  • Argentine ants are ranked among the world’s top 100 worst animal invaders
  • These ants attack other ants and insects, and have led to slight ecological imbalances in some places (such as the decline in coastal horned lizards California due to the displacement of native ants by Argentine ants)
  • Queens are about 6mm long, smaller than the queens of other ant species
  • They have a poor ability to dig deep nests, which is why their nests are shallow