Since its introduction to the United States became apparent, the Argentine ants became a serious agricultural and urban pest not just in California, but also in numerous urban developments in the southeastern U.S. This ant is now known in disrupting our ecosystems for it has directly displace other ants, including fire ants and other insects in their natural habitat.
The Argentine ants and the odorous house ants are very similar, which is why they are commonly confused with each other. Workers of both species are about one-tenth of an inch long. They do not have a sting, and are light brown or brown in color. Although both species have some differences, but they are not that easily seen unless you are going to use a microscope.
Argentine ants are small with its workers having a size of about one-twelfth of an inch long. They have a uniform brown color, and the single upright node found between their thorax and abdomen. Although this ant does not sting, they can still bite, but it is not very painful. When their workers are disturbed or crushed, they can emit a stale, musty odor that identifies them as an Argentine ant.
Unlike fire ants, the nest sites of this species may consist of little more than a moist, protected area where eggs, larvae, and pupae are kept in piles and are taken care of by workers. Their nest sites are difficult to recognize because they do not nest in single, easily recognized site. Instead, they create different nest sites, connected by trails, which are difficult to detect.
This species can form very large colonies of a few hundred to several hundred thousand workers. Each colony can have multiple queens. The queen’s main purpose is to lay thousands of eggs in one season. Unlike other ant species, though the queen will help in the grooming and feeding of her young.
Workers are females, while males are mostly produced when colonies are already mature and they will also die shortly after mating. While other reproductive ant species swarm to mate, Argentine ant reproductives do not leave their colony. Once they reach maturity in April or May, they will mate within the colony to protect themselves from the harsh weather conditions and predators.
New colonies are created by one or more mated females and will migrate away from the parent colony with a group of workers since the queen is not able to raise her brood by herself. Despite their aggressiveness toward other ant species and insects, Argentine ant colonies can peacefully coexist with other Argentine ant colonies, and can cooperate to create “super colonies.”
Argentine ants are very aggressive species, despite their small size, and their lack of sting. In fact, fire ants, can become the dominant species, and can even replace the ant species present in their location. Because of their small size, and hidden nests, these ants can get their way into homes without being detected by the homeowner.
These ants are omnivorous, which means that they can eat both animal and vegetable foods, and other types of food that are readily available in homes. They can feed on live and dead insects, honeydew produced by insects, meats, pet foods, sweets, and so much more. Due to the wide variety of food that they can eat, these ants are considered serious pests in homes. Although they may not be able to eat in large quantities, they can still contaminate the food, which homeowners may just throw away once they see the ants infesting it.
When they invade homes, these ants can cause trouble since they commonly crawl in large numbers and can be found on shelves, closets, stoves, dishwashers, refrigerators, countertops, beds, in clothes, etc. They can also spread disease once they crawl over such things as feces, dead and decaying animals, sewage, and other forms of refuse, after which they will crawl over our food and contaminate them.
Short-term control of the Argentine ants can be as simple as locating their trail and wiping them away with a damp, soapy cloth and removing their food source that attracted them in the first place. However, if you want a long-term control over these ants make sure to:
- Locate and treat nest sites
- Eliminate attractive food sources
- Seal all entry points
- Prune trees and shrubs that touch the exterior of the house
- Control honeydew-producing insects on landscape plants
- Avoid excessive mulch
- Use appropriate baits properly
- Apply insecticide treatments
- Hire a professional pest control company
Do you have an existing ant problem? Call Preventive Pest Control today! To schedule a FREE appointment, go to our Ant Control Service page.