Argentine ants have been a problem for American farmers since the beginning of the 20th century. This South-American type of insects has managed to become dominant one in Southern parts of the US (California, Maryland, Missouri, Oregon and Washington).
These foreigners are aggressive to local types of ants that they appear to live by. It was noticed that in their native habitat, Argentine types have to lead wars with species from the same family, while in the new environment they accept siblings from the same species, but attack locals. This behaviour transforms the wildlife, causing even the extinction of some animals.
Argentine ants are omnivorous. They can successfully feed on protein, fat and carbons. In practice, they like any other insects as spiders, wasps and termites. Even birds suffer from the infestation as these little aggressors can attack their nests.
What threat are the Argentine ants?
For people, Argentine ants don’t carry any physical threat. They bite, but can’t cause any significant hurt to us. As many others, the Argentine species just forage for food and water. Naturally, seeking food everywhere, they are potential carriers of very dangerous diseases for people.
Thus, causing problems both in the garden and inside our houses, Argentine ants are worth to be studied more carefully to know the means of their extermination.
Argentine ants’ habitat, types and food
Argentine ants have dark brown colour. They are rather small – about 3 mm or 1/8 inch in length. They are also identified by a strong smell when squashing them.
The insects’ native region is South America, but with the transportation means development, they have become literally cosmopolitan. These ants prefer warm and moist climate. They settle outside in shallow places for example, under stones, alongside pavements or underground. But their mounds are not very deep. When weather conditions are inappropriate for living, they seek shelter inside.
This type of pests is rather difficult to be eliminated because their population may reach a million species in one household. Actually, the Argentine ants in California can be accepted by the ones in Florida. Due to this fact, they create enormously big supercolonies.
What is more, the structure of their colony has great differences compared to other ants.
- Argentine ants’ reproductive species may be without wings.
- There is no swarming stage in their development. Thanks to this, the Argentines save their population as practically all reproductive females can become queens. They may also leave the parent nest accompanied by a dozen of ants and start a new nest.
- As a rule there are several queens in the same nest, they don’t sit in their chamber, but can also forage for food.
- The queens are a bit larger than ordinary workers and are movable.
They have a big sweet tooth. Worker ants (sterilized females) mostly feed on carbohydrates. Queens and larvae prefer protein sources.
How to kill Argentine ants at home?
Before starting total extermination of Argentine ants, follow the rules to achieve the best results:
- Bear in mind that it is better to prevent the infestation.
- Argentine ants settle inside the house only when the weather is too wet or too hot. They visit people’s places mostly for food. All the nests are outside.
- Don’t use repellents in order to kill them. You will kill only some workers and may be some queens, but it won’t get any significant result. In the worst case, by doing this, you will force the ants to create more colonies.
- Toxic pesticides are good for creating the outside barrier.
- The best treatments will be low-toxic non-repellents and bait stations.
- Be patient, because it will take a week or more to get rid of Argentine pests.
- The only advantage of this type of ants is that their large infestation can eliminate your house from drywood termites.
Natural remedies against Argentine ants
It is possible to apply natural treatments, which are general for all ants:
- Use talcum (baby powder). It won’t kill them but make keep far from the place where the powder is sprinkled. Apply it on windows, at doors, along baseboards, everywhere they like to run.
- Diatomaceous Earth (DE). It is a more powerful measure, which is able to kill most of bad insects. At the same time, it is safe for people and pets.
- Boric acid or borax has become one of the most effective methods to kill any kind of ants. And Argentine species are not the exception. The mixture including borax and some sweet substance is a perfect poison, has alluring smell and kills the insects slowly, leaving time to bring the bait into their nest and contaminate larvae and queens.
- Orange oil. It kills ants by destroying their respiratory system. Spray it in their favourite places or clean the surfaces in your house to stop the ants. You can use either essential orange oil, purchased in the store, or made by your own. It is non-toxic and has a very pleasant scent. Still be careful with orange oil as it may produce the allergic reaction.
Read also: Home remedies for ants, how to kill ants naturally, review 14 methods!
Special treatments against Argentine ants
There are some products, which are easy to deal with when you mean to get rid of Argentine ants. They are ready to use baits and bait stations with a slow-active poison. The most popular brands that produce such treatments are Maxforce and Advance. The baits can be presented as granules or a gel. Granules are better to dust in the garden; gel form is perfect for indoor elimination. The common principle is to attract the ants, treat the bait and bring the pieces to other members of the nest, especially to queens and young species.
The decrease in Argentine ants’ population will be seen later, depending on their quantity. You will need to reapply the treatments regularly.
It is very important to use both sweet and protein saturated baits to treat as many ants as possible.
More recommendations you will find in this article.
How to prevent Argentine ants’ infestation?
For indoor preventive measures remember to keep the following tips:
- Make your house unattractive for the ants. Don’t leave any crumbles either on the countertops or on the floor – sweep and wash it every day. Empty the garbage can more frequently or close it tightly.
- Seal and caulk all the cracks in the house. Argentine ants can crawl through a crack of 1 mm. Use silica gels.
- Keep firewood far away from the house as the ants like to settle under it.
- Remove all shrubs within a meter from the building.
- Trim the garden trees not allowing its branches to touch your house.
Argentine ants are supposed to be the most difficult insects to get rid of. With the help of this information, you will manage to control them and not let them invade the house inside.