Largest Ant Colony in the World
What is an ant colony?
Ants are social insects that form small to large colonies. A typical ant colony contains an egg-laying queen and many adult workers together with their brood (eggs, larvae, and pupae). Workers are by far the most numerous individuals in the nest and are the food gatherers for the colony.
What is the largest ant colony in the world?
How do supercolonies form?
Argentine ants form exceptionally massive colonies called supercolonies. This occurs because the ant nest supports multiple ant queens that stay in their birth colony. When the workers and queens move together to new sites to establish a new colony, which is called budding, this behavior makes colonies have multiple nests. Each colony can then expand its territory as far as environmental conditions allow. Also, Argentine ants breed rapidly and create huge colonies that can grow to have hundreds of thousands of workers.
Like all ants, Argentine ants go through a developmental process called complete metamorphosis. Development time can change depending on temperature, but on average, eggs hatch in about 28 days and reach adulthood in about 74 days. Argentine ant colonies can contain hundreds of queens. For every 1,000 worker ants, it’s estimated there can be up to 15 queens.
Argentine ants reproduce through a process known as budding where queens and males will mate within the parent nest before leaving with a handful of workers to start a new nest. These networks of interconnected nests can expand to form massive colonies called supercolonies that can contain millions of members, including multiple queens, and have been known to populate entire city blocks. Argentine ant workers are very aggressive and often eliminate other species of ants in their area.
History Of the Argentine Ant Supercolony
Argentine ants originated in Northern Argentina near the Parana River. Since these ants form supercolonies and adapt well to urban and suburban environments, they have infested many locations worldwide. These ants are likely to be found in most regions of the world that have climates with mild winters and moderate to high humidity. Argentine ants are found throughout the southern states of Florida, Texas, North and South Carolina, California, and Hawaii. Less widespread infestations are also found in Arizona, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, and the Pacific Northwest.
Are Argentine ants invasive?
Argentine ants are an invasive species known for displacing native ants. They are also one of the most troublesome home-infesting ant pests. Moist areas, like mulch, under debris on the ground, under piles of refuse and home foundations attract Argentine ants. When the weather cools, these pests may shelter within gaps and cracks around homes. Argentine ants feed on sweets like plant secretions and honeydew and may enter homes, particularly when outdoor conditions become too wet or dry.
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