- Latin Name: Linepithema humile
- Size: 1/8” – 1/4″ – much smaller than most other ant species
- Color: Various shades of shiny brown
- Found in: Mostly in the Southeastern United States and the Southwest, particularly in California and Texas
- Overview: The Argentine ant is a shiny brown color with six legs and 12 segments on its antennae. It is oval in shape and about 1/8” long which make sit far smaller than most other ants.
About Argentine Ants
The Argentine ants originated in Argentina in 1866. They have migrated to South America, the United States, Australia, Europe, New Zealand and South Africa. The first sightings of the Argentine ants in the United States date back to the 1890s. They prefer mild temperatures and often journey inside homes when the weather is too hot or too wet. California, Texas and the Carolinas have the perfect temperatures for these ants to thrive in.
Argentine ants feast on honeydew from aphid colonies. However, if they make it inside the kitchen, they will first look for the sweets then snack on oily foods like chips and French fries. They also need water to survive.
Facts About These Ants
Argentine ants live in mega colonies with hundreds of thousands of members. The largest colony discovered in Europe was said to be over 3,700 miles long! The only role of the male Argentine ants is to mate while the females do all of the food collection and building. While other types of ants attack their same species, Argentine ants do not.
This incredibly large colony size is unique to Argentine ants. Because all Argentine ants have similar DNA, they recognize each other as family. They form identical interconnected colonies where the queen shares worker ants. More than one queen can live in each colony. The queen is often times up to four times the length of a worker ant and may have wings. Due to multiple queens living in the same place, it is extremely difficult to terminate a colony.
Signs of an Argentine Infestation
The first sign of a problem may occur when you see a trail of crumbs coming from the pantry. Argentine ants leave crumbs and a pheromone trail to remember where they have been and save time the next time they are looking for food. Once you find the ants, step on a few. If they leave a musty odor behind it is most likely an Argentine ant colony. These ants bite but they don’t sting. They are not a threat to humans, but they may contaminate your food.
Do not try to treat this invasion with pesticides found at your local hardware store as it can cause stress to the colony which just signals the queens to produce more eggs. Always be very careful with poison around children and animals. Due to the difficulty in terminating these colonies, it is best to call a pest professional for help.