Argentine Ant Information

Protect your home or business from Argentine ants by learning techniques for identification and control.

Linepithema humile
Light to dark brown
2.2 to 2.8 mm
Smooth, hairless body
12-segmented antennae

Treatment

How do I get rid of Argentine ants?

What Orkin Does

Orkin technicians are trained to help manage ants and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique ant treatment program for your situation. Learn more about control methods for Argentine ants.

Keeping Argentine ants out of homes and buildings is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps — Assess, Implement and Monitor. Orkin can provide the right solution to keep ants in their place...out of your home, or business.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Understanding Argentine Ants

Appearance

  • Color: Argentine ants range from light to dark brown

  • Size: They measure about 2.2 to 2.8 mm long.

  • Head: Their antennae have 12 segments.

Behavior

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.

Diet

Argentine ants are omnivorous, meaning that they can eat almost anything, but they prefer sweet foods.

Habitat

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.

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.

Reproduction & Lifecycle

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.

Nests & Colonies

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.

Queens

Argentine ant queens are different and unusual when compared to queens of other ant species. Some of those dissimilarities and behavioral characteristics are:

  • Argentine ant queens are small, about 1/6 - 1/4 inches in length, much smaller than most other species of ant queens

  • Winged Argentine ant queens mate once with a winged male, after which they can continuously produce fertile eggs for as long as they live. While other ant species have seasonal swarming flights, these ants do not form new nests through mating swarms. Instead, they mate inside the nest.

  • A single Argentine ant colony will have several queens, each of them capable of laying as many as 60 eggs per day.

  • Argentine ant queens help workers by feeding their young. Most other ant queens primarily lay eggs and depend on the ant workers to feed and care for the young.

  • Argentine ant queens are mobile and may be seen outside the nest along with workers, unlike other ant queens who reside inside the nest for life. Queen mobility enables the rapid movement and establishment of nests to other areas if conditions become inhospitable.

  • At times, due to temperature or colony pressures, an Argentine ant queen will leave her nest without taking flight and establish a new nest.

Males

Male Argentine ants hatch from the queen's unfertilized eggs and are fairly short lived. The single function of a male Argentine ant is to mate with a queen to preserve and proliferate the colony. The males usually die soon after mating.

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