Facts, Identification & Control
Argentine ants range from light to dark brown and measure about 2.2 to 2.8 mm long. Their antennae have 12 segments.
Behavior, Diet & Habitat
Argentine ants are readily adaptable and can nest in a great variety of places. Colonies are massive and may contain hundreds of queens. Nests are usually located in moist soil, next to or under buildings, along sidewalks or beneath boards. These ants travel in trails.
Argentine ants are omnivorous, meaning that they can eat almost anything, but they prefer sweet foods.
Like other ant species, Argentine ants pass through the development process called complete metamorphosis. Eggs are white, and larvae emerge from them after about 28 days. They reach adult stage in about 74 days.
Argentine ants may live in soil, under wood, logs, debris or mulch. They may also nest in cavities at the base of shrubs and trees. Their nests are often shallow, measuring up to 20 cm (~8 in) in depth in open habitats.
Signs of an Argentine Ant Infestation
The foraging trails of Argentine ants are their most visible sign. The trails can be observed traveling up buildings, trees and into homes.
All Argentine ants are the same size. They travel with well-defined trails between their web of nests and their food sources. Argentine ants feed on sweets, honeydew and oily household foods.
While other ant species have seasonal nuptial swarming flights, Argentine ants do not establish new nests through swarming. They produce reproductives that do not swarm from the nest but instead mate inside the nest. At times, due to temperature or colony pressures, a queen Argentine ant will leave her nest on foot to establish new colonies. New nests are constructed around the original, and remain connected to the queen’s old colony, so workers are sometimes shared between colonies.
Argentine ants kill other insects and invade human dwellings. Over time, the network of interconnecting colonies could become a massive infestation. Each colony of Argentine ants can contain millions of insects and multiple queens. These colonies can populate entire city blocks. Argentine ant infestations are best left to a professional pest control operator to identify and treat.