Argentine Ant Facts
The Argentine ant is native to Argentina and Brazil, and was brought to New Orleans in the 1800s on the ships of coffee exporters. These ants can be found in the Southeastern United States and California, with some Argentine ant infestations appearing in Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Oregon, and Washington.
Argentine Ant Bites
Argentine ants bite people only when provoked and the bites are not severe. They do not have stingers. The biggest health risk associated with and Argentine ant infestation is food contamination. These small brown ants crawl over garbage, dead animals, and sewage looking for food and can bring germs that cause diseases like dysentery into your home.
Argentine Ant Infestation
These small brown ants mate in their nests and do not swarm as some ant species do. Argentine ant colonies have multiple queens. Queens can live for about a year, but workers tend to execute most of the older queens in early spring, leaving only the younger, more fertile female reproductives. Argentine ant queens are mobile and you may even see a queen in a line of foraging ants. Argentine ant colonies take kindly to other colonies of the same species and will sometimes join together to create a large colony, which can quickly lead to a big Argentine ant infestation. These ants can adapt easily and will readily build their nests in your wall voids or beneath your floorboards if it suits them.
Types of Argentine Ants
Argentine Ant Identification
These small ants are only 1/8-inch long and range in color from light to dark brown. When crushed, workers release a stale, musty odor.
Argentine Ants In The Home & The Garden
Argentine ants prefer moist environments near their food source. These small brown ants will build shallow nests in the soil under stones or plants, along sidewalks, or in the mulch and gravel used for landscaping.
If it’s too wet or dry outside, argentine ants will invade buildings in large numbers, using branches or following utility lines to get inside. Argentine ants in your home will nest near moist areas like houseplants, water pipes and sinks. Argentine ant infestations have been found in wall voids and in piles of objects found in basements and garages. When argentine ants have found a food source in your home, you will most likely see these small brown ants in large numbers, making it easy to tell when there is a problem. Argentine ant infestations can quickly get out of control because the ant queens are mobile and will quickly begin new colonies wherever they find a good food source or a suitable nesting site.
Argentine ants love sugary and syrupy foods, but will eat basically any kind of food. In nature, these small brown ants feed on fruit juices and plant secretions, and will milk the sweet “honeydew” from aphids. They even protect the aphids from predators.
Argentine ants are very aggressive and will drive other ant colonies out of their nests and away from valuable food sources. They are one of the few natural enemies of imported fire ants. Argentine ants are not aggressive toward each other and neighboring colonies will sometimes merge to create giant “super colonies.”
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an ant 'supercolony?'
A supercolony occurs when many ant colonies unite over a large area. Although there are different species of ant within the supercolony, the ants do not show aggression towards one another. The largest known ant supercolony is in Japan, and was estimated to contain 306 million worker ants, along with one million queens spread throughout the 45,000 nests interconnected.
Should I hire a professional to help manage an Argentine ant infestation?
The key to successfully getting rid of an argentine ant infestation is to first find the colonies. A pest management professional will perform a comprehensive inspection of your home and property to identify favorable conditions for these small brown ants and entry points to the nesting sites. Argentine ant treatment includes materials that will flush the ants out of their colonies combined with the right baits that will recruit foraging ants to help with eradicating the colony.
A pest management professional has the education, equipment and skills necessary to effectively address an argentine ant problem. Finding and treating the ant colony can be challenging, especially if the main colony is hidden somewhere outside in the lawn. A pest management professional provides their expertise to identify the pest problem and determine the best possible solution to resolve the argentine ant infestation.
If you fear you have an Argentine ant infestation, contact us today for your cost-free inspection.