Argentine Ants

Argentine Ants

Overview

The Argentine ant is native to northern Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and southern Brazil. It is has established in many Mediterranean climate areas, inadvertently introduced by humans to many places, including South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, Easter Island, Australia, Hawaii, Europe, and the United States.

Description

The worker ants are about 3 mm long and can easily squeeze through cracks and holes no more than 1 mm in size. Queens are two to four times the length of workers.

Colour Shiny - Dark to Light

Legs:6

Antennae:2

Shape: Oval Segmented

Size: Approximately 2.5 – 3 mm

Habits

Argentine ants have been extraordinarily successful, in part, because different nests of the introduced Argentine ants seldom attack or compete with each other, unlike most other species of ant. Individuals from one nest can mingle in a neighbouring nest without being attacked.

Like workers in many other ant species, Argentine ant workers are unable to lay reproductive eggs but can direct the development of eggs into reproductive females; the production of males appears to be controlled by the amount of food available to the larvae. The queens seldom or never disperse in winged form. Instead, colonies reproduce by budding off into new units with as few as ten workers and a single queen needed to establish a new colony.

Habitat

These ants will set up quarters in the ground, in cracks in concrete walls, in spaces between boards and timbers, even among belongings in human dwellings. In natural areas, they generally nest shallowly in loose-leaf litter or beneath small stones, due to their poor ability to dig deeper nests. However, if a deeper nesting ant species abandons their nest, Argentine ant colonies will readily take over the space.

Threats

The ants are ranked among the world's 100 worst animal invaders. The Argentine ant often displaces most or all native ants. This can, in turn, imperil other species in the ecosystem, such as native plants that depend on native ants for seed dispersal, or lizards that depend on native ants for food.

Prevention

Argentine ants are a common household pest, often entering structures in search of food or water (particularly during dry or hot weather), or to escape flooded nests during periods of heavy rainfall. Argentine ant colonies almost invariably have many reproductive queens, as many as eight for every 1,000 workers, so eliminating a single queen does not stop the colony's ability to breed. When they invade a kitchen, it is not uncommon to see two or three queens foraging along with the workers.

Due to their nesting behaviour and presence of numerous queens in each colony, it is generally impractical to spray Argentine ants with pesticides or to use boiling water as with mound building ants. Spraying with pesticides has occasionally stimulated increased egg-laying by the queens, compounding the problem. Pest control usually requires exploiting their omnivorous dietary habits, through use of slow-acting poison bait, which will be carried back to the nest by the workers, eventually killing all the individuals, including the queens. It may take four to five days to eradicate a colony in this manner.

Treatment

Surekil Pest Control eradication of Argentine ants includes the use of introducing Ant gels and baits (slow acting poisons) to feed the ants.  

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