Boric Acid and Argentine Ants

Basic Information

Argentine ants are a nuisance in orchards, households and the other areas they infest. Unlike other ant species, Argentine ant queens develop their colonies a short distance away from their original nest. As a result, the web of interconnected nests could infest and damage a startling 200 meters of land each year. Measuring slightly less than 3 mm long, these small ants can have multiple queens that rapidly establish new colonies. Due to their rapid proliferation, it is important to control Argentine ants before their nests infest a very large area.

Argentine ant workers feed on honeydew from aphids and other sap-sucking insects. They protect aphids from predators and, in turn, the aphids damage plants, vegetation and other agricultural products. In addition, Argentine ants can be a danger to the ecosystem because they prey on bees, snakes, lizards and other beneficial animals.

Control Methods

There are many treatments for Argentine ants. One treatment that is sometimes used is a liquid boric acid bait solution. When Argentine ant workers ingest boric acid solution, they bring it back to their colonies. The workers then feed larvae, workers and queens with the boric acid solution.

Each Argentine ant queen can establish new nests and produce thousands of workers within close range to the original nest, producing a wide network of nests. An Argentine ant colony can be destroyed only by killing all of its queens. The severity of an infestation of Argentine ants depends upon the length of time they are allowed to proliferate. For this reason, be sure to thoroughly examine the area near any nest you find.

Challenges of Control

A boric acid mixture can become effective in killing Argentine ants only when the correct concentration of the bait has been formulated: too weak a concentration may have no effect, while too high a concentration may kill the foraging Argentine workers before they have a chance to bring the poison back to the colony. Killing individual Argentine ants is impractical because queens so easily produce new workers. Pesticides also must mixed and applied according to the label. In order to ensure the elimination of all established nests, a pest control professional should be contacted.