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Know your bugs: Argentine Ants

Posted on Nov 18, 2013


When it comes to an infestation of ants in your home, the approach you take to fighting the invasion will depend in part on the species of ant; while ants share commonalities across species, different species will have their own nesting site preferences, breed and multiply differently, and prefer some kinds of food sources over others. 

One common and aggressive home-invading bug is the Argentine ant.  What are some of the characteristics of this species?

 

  • Different colonies of Argentine ants don't fight with each other; they might band together to destroy other ant species, but not each other.  On different continents, the individual colonies of ants can make up a "supercolonies" (one example is the California Large Colony extending hundreds of miles along the Pacific coast).  In the US, these ants are prevalent mostly in the South and in California.
  • Getting rid of a queen ant doesn't destroy the colony, as a colony has multiple queens.
  • They get into buildings through even the most miniscule openings. 
  • They're drawn to moisture and in particular to sweet foods.  Another motive for setting up camp in your home is to escape from unfavorable weather conditions, such as heat spells and torrential rains.
  • They nest in a wide range of places both indoors and outdoors, including flowerbeds, damp, mulchy soil, rotten wood, potted plants, and in moist, protected places within your walls, near pipes and sinks for instance.

 

Indiscriminately spraying pesticide probably won't be effective; even if you kill off individual ants, remember that they form large colonies with multiple queens.  There's also some evidence suggesting that the use of pesticides could increase the rate of egg-laying by the queens.  Use of slow-acting poisonous bait could be more effective, as the ever-foraging ants would bring it back to the nesting site; you need to be careful about where you place the bait, and you'd also need to be patient, as it can take some time for significant portions of them to die off.

 

You also need to determine the likeliest points of entry into your home, and as much as possible seal up cracks, keep food sealed up, and make sure there aren't any drippy pipes or other plumbing problems that would create the moist spaces these ants (and other pests) enjoy.

 

Although Argentine ant infestations aren't 100% preventable, and can be difficult to control,contact usfor further solutions on how to deal with these determined home invaders.



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