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Argentine Ants

Argentine Ant

Argentine ants are an invasive species which has been carried by humans to many parts of the world. Although native to northern Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Southern Brazil, they have followed humans as far as North America, Australia, Japan, Europe, and South Africa. The typical worker ant is approximately 3 millimetres long and the queens can grow as large as 12 millimetres. Argentine ant colonies can have multiple queens, as many as 8 for 1000 ants, which gives then the ability to survive conventional pest poisons and household remedies.

Problems/Damage

Why should I be concerned?

Like most ants, Argentine ants will invade your home in search of food and shelter. They can become more than a nuisance by finding their way into human and pet foods. Unlike other species of ants, Argentine ant colonies are closely related and may even share workers. It is very important to act quickly in order to prevent your home from being overrun.

Argentine ants are an invasive species capable to displacing other ants vital to the local ecosystem. Of particular concern to gardeners and farmers, these ants may tend the aphids which feed on the leaves of plants in return for the honeydew that they excrete. As Argentine ants invade the local area, aphid and other plant parasites populations will grow.

Habitat and Behaviour

A day in the life of Argentine ants

Argentine ants will attempt to establish colonies in cracks in the ground, in walls, in spaces between boards and timbers, and even among the belongings in homes and businesses. Unable to dig deeper nests, these ants will use small stones and loose leaf litter in natural areas to set up nests.

Argentine ant colonies are successful in part due to their genetic uniformity. Individual colonies rarely attack each other, and go as far as joining together and sharing workers. In 2009, researchers discovered that three supercolonies in Europe, Japan, and America are actually genetically related.

They are omnivorous insects with a preference for sweet or greasy foods, so much so that they have earned the nickname “sugar ants”. However, they will dine on meat, eggs, and even other insects and larvae.

Identification

  • Dark brown to black in colour, shiny appearance
  • Workers are approximately 3 mm, queens can be up as large as 12 mm
  • Triangular head
  • thorax is uneven in shape
  • A single small segment (node) between the thorax and abdomen

Tips for prevention and control

These tips may help you keep Argentine ants out of your home:

  • Seal/Caulk all cracks and openings in walls and around the home
  • Clean and sanitize all surfaces
  • Pet food and all other food sources should be stored and cleaned up every day
  • Yard debris and objects should be removed
  • Overhanging trees should be pruned or trimmed so that they are not in contact with the structure
  • Gutters and downspouts should be clean and free flowing

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