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                             ARGENTINE ANT

Argentine Ant Biology, Identification

The Argentine ant is a one node, small, shiny, brown ant with only one size of worker.  Workers are usually about 1/12 to 1/8 inch long.  The queen ants are much larger, sometimes reaching 1/4 inch in length.  This ant is found throughout the Southeastern United States and Southern California.  They nest outdoors under logs, concrete slabs, debris and mulch.  Argentine ants build very large colonies and can move rapidly.  During winter months, this ant will move indoors.

This ant is successful and hard to control because:

  • Different Argentine ant colonies in a same general locale are not enemies.  Even the many queens in a single colony or separate colonies are friendly to each other.
  • Argentine ants are not too "picky" when choosing a suitable site to infest or colonize.  They readily move their nests during the changing seasons and other conditions.
  • These pests are omnivorous; they seem to never be in short supply of food.
  • Each colony of Argentine ants contains a multitude of workers.
  • Each worker is more courageous and harder worker than most ants.   Creatures that attempt to prey on Argentine ants are confronted with an army of stubborn bugs that never runs from a fight!
  • The queens of most ant species are usually egg-laying machines.   The queen ant of Argentines actually helps in the care, grooming and feeding of her young.
  • Most species of ants mate and reproduce by swarming; the Argentine mates in the colony, unexposed to the perils of birds, frogs, lizards, predator insects and extreme weather conditions.  A swarmer reproductive (as seen with fireants and carpenter ants) has about 1 chance in 1,000 of surviving and successfully reproducing.  The Argentine ant queen always succeeds!
  • This ant pest has no natural enemies (of any importance) in the United States

Inspecting for Argentine Ants

 In the Spring, the nest can be found in open ground with small piles of excavated earth a short distance from the nest holes.   Form boards along sidewalks, patios, driveways, and wooden objects of any kind are preferred as nesting sites and runways.  The area beneath a plant infested with "ant cows" often will be honey-combed with their tunnels.  The ants may be encountered in great numbers in and under dead and decaying stumps.

During warm weather, the Argentines might favor the undersides of houses and may use the mudsills as their runways, even establishing themselves in the home itself.  During the Summer months, the nests of this ant are very shallow, usually only one or two inches below the surface of the soil.  An occasional exception can be found in the roots of large trees located in favorable areas to the Argentine ant.

Argentine ants begin to migrate and congregate into super "ant cities" during Autumn, where you can find hundreds of queens.  To locate these colonies, inspect beneath any ground "clutter" such as piles of construction materials, boards, sheets of tin or plywood and even decaying plant material.  It is in these warm, protected areas that the Argentine Ant will retreat from the ravages of Winter.

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