Argentine Ants: Facts, Behavior, Identification & Control

What are Argentine ants? Ants have been known to live in small natural holes in highly organized colonies that may consist of millions of individuals (ants).

Their mandibles give them the upper hand to pick up food and cause damage, but that is not the topic of the day, is it? (smiles)

Even though you rarely hear much about these ants, do you know that out of the 7 continents in the world, Argentine ants can be found on 6 of them? Then which of these continents is uninviting to these insects? Of course, you guessed right—it’s Antarctica!

Well, most of you guys probably didn’t know this, right? then read on to clear your doubts about the Argentine ant!

 

Facts About Argentine Ants?

What do Argentine ants look like? How can I identify them? Before getting to identify these pests, you should know little about them and have an oversight of their behaviours.

Argentine ants are a great nuisance to the homes they inhabit and gardens as well. They are known to occupy concrete walls, timbers, and the floor, and even dwell among humans.

Outside human dwellings, they can be found under stones and leaves, due to their inability to dig up deeper nests.

One funny fact is that you will only find them in a deep nest if it was abandoned by the ants who previously created the nest.

These ants are commonly found in southern California, as they are known to invade homes in search of food and water.

Unlike most ants, the Argentine ants will feed on anything called food! especially sweets and egg yolks (do not have this substance littered in your home except if you want an infestation of these dark-coloured ants).

They are well adapted to the urbanized areas of the United States, which have a mild climate and well-watered gardens. These ants pose a series of threats to native wildlife by upsetting delicate food webs.

They are especially known to inspire fear due to their aggressive behaviours and the large size of their colonies, which can team up with other colonies (cool, right?)

According to research, three supercolonies of Argentine ants found in America, Japan, and Europe were all closely related to each other, even though they were from different countries.

Below are the reasons why scientists proposed these 3 colonies of Argentine ants to come from a single supercolony:

  • They all possess a similarity in the hydrocarbons present in their cuticles.
  • These ants have a similarity in their non-aggressive and grooming behaviours when interacting with each other, compared to when they mix up with ants from other super-colonies.

 

Read also: Benefits of Eating Ants; Top 10 Nutritious Facts About Eating Ants

 

Did You Know?

  • Strength: Just like other ants, the Argentine ants can lift objects 20 times their body weight. A single ant can even lift 10 other ants with its body weight. Imagine how strong you’d be if you had such strength.
  • Hearing Abilities: Even though these ants are a great nuisance, they lack ears. Then how do they listen to avoid danger? Well, these ants listen by feeling vibrations in the ground using their feet.
  • Level of Destruction: Trust me, you wouldn’t want to experience these guys in your home, as they can cause a great deal of damage to household properties as well as outside your homes.
    In the world, these ants are ranked as part of the first 100 most dangerous animals on Earth.
  • Insecticides: Using insecticides to get rid of these ants is no use, as it will even increase the reproduction rate of the queen and its population in your home.
  • Beneficiaries: Even though most animals are scared of the Argentine ants, including humans, some insects are gaining certain benefits from them.
    The aphids, whiteflies, and scales give honeydew to this ant in exchange for protection. This is somewhat weird, but it’s so true!
  • Aggressiveness: These ants are so aggressive to the extent that they are feared by other insects and reptiles. Argentine ants can even destroy a beehive! Wait, are you for real? Yeah, I am! (smiles)
  • Nativity: These ants are native to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

Argentine ants are very interesting creatures and are incredibly fascinating, but would you want these pests in your home? Well, let’s find out.

With these brief facts, we believe you’ve gathered knowledge of what these guys look like. You want to know more. Well, keep reading to make more discoveries!

 

How is the Behavior of Argentine Ants?

Just like other insects, the Argentine ants have certain things they get attracted to! People often term them to be very dangerous because of their damage-causing abilities, how they appear in large numbers, and their biting mouthparts, but are they dangerous? Well, keep reading to find out.

One thing’s certain: most insects do not deliberately bite humans or cause any damage to household properties or any wooden furniture they come across, but their feeding habit is what causes them to do so. Or, wait, is that true in the case of this ant species? Let’s find out!

 

What Do Argentine Ants Eat?

These ants are omnivorous feeders and will feed on a wide range of organic substances. Argentine ants prefer sweet foods and are often found tending aphids or scale insects on plants to get honeydew in return.

The workers in the colony would rather prefer sweet foods such as syrup (even cough syrup), fruit juices, or plant secretions, and gather protein-based foods to take back to the queens and the larvae. Unlike other smaller-sized ants, they prefer sweet food more than protein food.

The queens and larvae feed on protein-based foods almost excessively, while the workers eat sugar-based foods.

Just in case you were not following the Argentine ant’s diet, below is a breakdown of what these ants eat:

  • Sugar Syrup
  • Vomit
  • Honeydew
  • Egg Yolk
  • Plant Nectar
  • Fruit Juice
  • Other insects and dead animals
  • They feed on almost everything you can term “food.”

 

What Eats Argentine Ants?

Sadly, there is no known predator for these species of ants, as everyone is scared of getting close to them due to their ability to attack in large numbers.

Some species of reptiles, birds, and even ants are reaching the stage of extinction because of an invasion by these small but mighty ants.

 

Read also: Pharaoh Ants: Interesting Facts About Pharaoh Ants

 

What is the Lifecycle of the Argentine Ants?

Unlike most ants, the Argentine ants have more than one winged queen in the colony, producing fertile eggs.

One very amazing fact about these queens is that they can keep reproducing these fertile eggs for about 10 years after a single mating with a male, right?

They are different from other ants in the sense that the queens can leave the colony with the workers to go and form a new colony. Budding is what this process is called.

Just like other ants, they lay eggs, but they have to bear the responsibility of cleaning themselves, feeding themselves, and raising the young, growing ants.

The development of these eggs ranges for an average period of 74 days, as the queen can lay a minimum of 60 eggs per day. You surely wouldn’t want all this lying in your home, would you?

Did I forget to mention that all workers in the colony are female? We wouldn’t want men taking care of the eggs (they might break them) (smiles).

The workers feed and tend to the larvae and pupae, while the queen cares for them when they emerge as young adults. The queen lays her eggs during the summertime to ensure a quick rate of development of these eggs.

  • The eggs develop to the larval stage after 28 days.
  • The larvae develop to the pupal stage within 10–60 days.
  • The pupae develop into adults within a time frame of 11–26 days.

 

Where do Argentine Ants Live?

The nest is usually situated close to a food source (could be in your kitchen) and cannot be easily spotted as it may be situated between bricks, boards, rotting wood, refuse piles, stumps, beehives, bird nests, etc.

When establishing a nest, these ants will infest your home in search of food, water, and a suitable spot for nesting.

They will rather prefer to nest in/close to organic mulch.

Below is a tabular representation of the regions where you can find these ants:

Place / Country

Region

1.    Worldwide
  • Australia
  • Central and South America
  • South Africa
  • Southern Europe
  • New Zealand
2.    United States
  • Alabama
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas

 

How do Argentine Ants Adapt?

These ants have special abilities to the extent that they can survive several conditions that other ant species cannot. They can survive in both rural and suburban areas.

They have a very high adaptability status, as they will match in large numbers in your home if it is too dry or wet outside.

If a tree branch is leaning on your home/building, you should get rid of it, as it will serve as an entry point for these ants into your house. As mentioned earlier, they feed mostly on sugary substances and nest close to a food source.

 

What Do Argentine Ants Look Like?

You obviously wouldn’t just know about these insects without knowing what they look like, your research wouldn’t be complete, would it? What do these hazardous pests look like? How do I identify one when I see it?

People also tend to mistake these guys for another similar species of ant, “the odorous house ant,”  but there are lots of features that you can use to identify these insects and differentiate them from their lookalikes, “the odorous house ants.”.

Listed below in tabular form are differences in identification between the Odorous House Ants and the Argentine Ants:

Argentine Ants Odorous House Ants
1. Argentine ants usually have a musty odour. 1. These ants have a rotten coconut-like smell.
2. These ants have a pointed node. 2. These ants have a node hidden by their abdomen.
3. They are dark brown. 3. They have black bodies and are sometimes dark brown.
4. Their size may range from 2.2 mm to 2.8 mm in length. 4. They are a bit larger than their look-alike, “the Argentine ants”  as their size may range from 2.4 mm to 3.3 mm in length.

 

What are the Stages of Growth in Argentine Ants?

Argentine Ants
Picture of an Argentine Ant Larvae

Of course, every living thing must surely go through the stage of growth, as this is one of the major characteristics of living things. Below are the stages of growth in these ants:

EGG –> LARVAE –> PUPAE –> ADULTS

Below is a description of the stages of growth in an Argentine ant:

Eggs

  • The eggs are translucent.
  • The eggs have a length of 0.30 mm and a width of 0.20 mm.
  • The eggs are ovoid.

Larvae

  • Males have a length of 2.5mm while females have a length of 1.7 mm.
  • Of course, the larvae cannot move but are cared for by the workers.
  • They are white to cream in colour.

Pupae

  • Males have a length of 3 mm while females have a length of 2 mm.
  • They are white in color with 2 black eyespots.

Adults

  • Adult males have a length of 2.5 mm, females have a length of 1.7 mm, and queens have a length of 4 – 6 mm.
  • Colour- Dark-Brown, Brick-red, Reddish, or yellowish.
  • Wings are briefly present in reproductive individuals.
  • They have smooth and hairless heads and thoraxes.
  • They have 12 segments.
  • They have bent antennae.

 

How To Control Argentine Ants

Having known what these pests look like, you obviously know that they are very hazardous and cause a great deal of damage to human properties, you obviously wouldn’t want to have them around destroying things and feeding on your foodstuffs.

Well below are brief points to be noted on the Argentine ant’s infestation, and how to control them and prevent them as well.

 

Read also: Moisture Ants: Facts, Identification and How to Get Rid

 

How Did I Get Argentine Ants in My Home?

These uninvited guests will force themselves into your home when a food source has been spotted. They usually create a link between their nest and the food source. Now let’s look at how this pest can get access to your home:

  • Tree branches leaning on the wall of your house can serve as a medium for these guys to get into your home.
  • Cracks and gaps around your building.
  • They Can dwell under waste piles and the foundation of your home.
  • You will mostly find them in the moist, mulchy areas of your home.

 

Is an Argentine ant Infestation Serious?

Yes, it is.

The nest of these pests consists of more than 2 queens, and can quickly build a huge colony within a short period. You wouldn’t want these insects in your home as they spread bacteria everywhere they go.

Argentine ant infestations are best left to a professional pest control agent to identify and treat as you won’t easily get rid of them.

 

How Do I Get Rid of Argentine Ants?

  • Get rid of waste around you.
  • Cut tree branches that lean close to the walls of your buildings.
  • Use pesticides to get rid of them.
  • Close the cracks and gaps in your buildings.

 

Conclusion

There are a lot of mistakes people often make when it comes to nature such as the case of the argentine ants and the odorous house ants. People often mistake the termites as well to be these pests, they do not know if they bite humans.

But luckily this article has been able to answer one of the most checked facts on the internet, “Argentine ants”. After reading this article we’ve been able to give you the courage to say ” Alas! I know what this ant looks like.

For more info, contact us and make your contributions or queries. We’re glad to have been of help to you and do well to subscribe to get more info about pests, pets, animals, as well as pest control services. Thank you!

About The Author


Discover more from Pestclue

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Leave a feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.