Argentine Ant Control and Prevention
Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) infestations are associated with populations that inhabit both the outside and inside of a building or home. Outdoors, nests are located in moist areas typically under rocks, concrete slabs, mulch, wood debris or in trees, stumps or fallen logs. Indoors, nests are found around moisture and damaged wood and in wall voids. Argentine ants will move inside a building if their outside habitat is disrupted, or if they find a good food source inside. Foraging ants will gain access to the inside via tree branches, power, plumbing and communication lines. Argentine ants feed on many different kinds of foods, but tend to prefer sweets. Colonies have multiple queens and a large number of workers. The size of a colony may number as many as several hundred thousand workers. Workers generally live about one or more months, but queens can live up to 10 years or more.
Prevention & Control
- The first step to setting up an ant control program is to identify the ant species that you want to control. More often than not, professional help is needed to obtain a correct identification.
- Argentine ants are very persistent and one of the most problematic species challenging the homeowner. Sometimes, a property owner might experience infestations year after year, unless control is complete and all nests are eliminated. Using only insecticides usually is unsuccessful for long-term control, so preventive measures also are needed. Incomplete control is often followed by a “bounce-back” of the ant population because of this ant’s ability to reproduce. So, when you need to control Argentine ants, contact your pest management professional who can provide recommendations and control measures that work. This is especially important in situations where the ant population is very large.
- Eliminate or reduce the ant habitat. Remove ground clutter such as boards, decaying plant material, rocks and other places that hold ground moisture. Do not overwater landscape areas. Repair water leaks. Ensure that water from the roof is directed away from the foundation.
- Inspect landscape plants for aphids and other honeydew-producing insects. Argentine ants eat the sweet honeydew produced by such insects, so reducing this food source is important. If needed, treat plants.
- Inspect for ants by locating and following trails leading either to or from the ant’s nest.
- Seal cracks and crevices on the outside of the structure to help stop forager ants from entering your home’s interior.
- Trim bushes, shrubs and other vegetation around your home. Make sure tree limbs aren’t touching your house because they provide an easy path inside.
- Remove food sources, and keep food crumbs and other wastes to a minimum. Regularly clean counter tops, pantry shelves, floors and garbage containers. Don’t leave bits of food or dirty dishes in the sink, and keep the dishwasher clean. Store human and pet foods in sealed containers with snap-on lids or glass jars with sealing gaskets.
- Should the homeowner decide on do-it-yourself ant or aphid control, be certain to read and follow all label directions for proper use of materials.