Argentine Ants and How to Get Rid of Them

Argentine ants pictured upclose

Linepithema Humile is a highly invasive species of ants that are known to terrorize Australian households. They can make a super colony in a very short period of time and are super protective of their territory. But how do you recognise the insect and most importantly – what is the answer to the question of how to get rid of Argentine ants in your house?

This article is for anyone who:

  • Has noticed an increasing number of ants in their home and wants to know what species they are;
  • Knows for sure that there is a serious Argentine Ant infestation and needs to take care of it;
  • Was a victim before and wants to know how to prevent an infestation from happening.

Don’t panic and keep on reading, as we tell you all about these pesky insects starting with…

 

In this article:

Argentine ant control

Fortunately for everyone dealing with this sort of bug, there are a couple of chemical and natural methods to get rid of Argentine ants in your home.

How to control Argentine ants with pesticides

In order to get rid of any pest, you must understand its needs and what is vital for its survival. Argentine ants always make their nests close to a water and food source. Even if they prefer sweets, these ants are practically omnivorous. When they go out in search for nutrition, they leave special “pheromone” trails behind in order to avoid places without food they’ve already checked out.

Indoors

Even though this type of ant species mostly live outdoors, they will still find a way to get inside your home in order to find nutrition. If this is your case, here is how to get rid of Argentine ants in your house:

  • Remove their entry points.
    Go around the rooms and halls, and see where they are coming from. Even the smallest holes and cracks can be a front door for ants, so make sure you are very thorough. You might need to repeat this process a couple of times, as Argentine ants are pretty stubborn and even if you seal a number of entries, they will just find others.
  • Exterminate the ants with the help of insecticides.

Before we start, keep in mind that indoor treatment will never be enough to take care of a full infestation. Even if you take care of the ants that are already inside, more will come from the outside.

However, it’s still a good start in taking care of this very serious pest problem. You can begin by making a pesticide barrier around your house. It will keep the bugs already inside from escaping, and any new ones from entering. You will need a synthetic pyrethroid pesticide spray, which you can find in most hardware stores and garden centres.

We recommend this type of chemical as it has a reduced level of toxicity and is a bit safer for pets and humans than most others on the market. Pay special attention to the alternative routes that can be taken such as patios and pergolas, or if there is some sort of foliage that will prevent the chemical from penetrating the walls.

Go around the places where you’ve noticed the biggest number of ants and place gel baits there. Do a regular check for any dead ants and dispose of them.

Outdoors

A very popular treatment includes placing a bait system that will feed the ants. If they have a constant food source they will not feel tempted to go inside your home or to rummage your garden. Keep in mind that the bait only feeds the existing ants and does not attract more of them.

You can try a slow-release, long-term spray treatment, however, it’s not recommended because you will have dangerous chemicals regularly being released in the air for months and months.

One thing you always have to remember is that Argentine ants take up huge territories. Whenever you start any kind of treatment, you will need to inspect the whole area and not just your property. You can check whether your neighbours have similar problems and think of a way to work together in order to get rid of the ants. Treat the marked perimeter with your pesticides of choice by applying them to the walls or foundations.

Here is a helpful list of the places you need to pay special attention to:

  • Taps and other water sources;
  • Waste bins;
  • Foundations of trees and large shrubs;
  • Garden beds that are close to the building;
  • The edges of your driveway, paths and doors;
  • Ant trails and nests.

Rules when performing a treatment with pesticides

Even though pesticides usually come with specific instructions on how to use them, there are a couple of general rules that you need to follow:

  • Do NOT spray the Argentine Ants directly with an insecticide. It might affect the workers, but it will not remove the queens. This will result in them laying even more eggs to compensate for the soldiers they have lost.
  • Make sure that the treated grounds are dry before, during, and after applying the pesticides. Check the weather forecast to avoid heavy rainfalls that could decrease the effectiveness of the treatment. Strong wind should also be avoided.
  • Clean up the affected area from any toys, clothes, upholstered garden furniture, pet food, etc.
  • During the treatment, you need to ensure that your kids and pets are far away from the chemicals.
  • Keep water sources clean such as waterways and ponds by being extremely careful in the application of the pesticides.
  • Argentine ants can recover their losses from an attack super quickly, so you might need to repeat the treatment from two to four weeks after the first application. Another reason for this is also the fact that whatever chemical you are using, it will only kill the ants that are outside. After time passes and no one is back with food for the rest of the colony, the queen will send out more workers and you will be able to kill them as well.
  • When choosing a pesticide, search for one that doesn’t act as a repellent. You need the ants to keep coming back to the poison and not run away from it.

If you aren’t sure, we can help you with the your ant problem!

More

Natural ways of controlling Argentine ants

If you don’t want to jump straight to the complicated pesticide treatments, there are a couple of things you can try beforehand that might keep the ants away.

  • Argentine Ants are attracted to moisture, so do a thorough inspection of all the pipes in your house in case there is a leak.
  • Trim the trees in your backyard, especially all the green life that is in close proximity to the walls of your home.
  • Inspect your house for cracks and crevices. Seal them up properly.
  • Place slow acting liquid ant baits. The insects will be attracted by the smell, they will take the bait and bring it to the rest of the colony, including the queen.
  • Remove all other food sources that might distract them from the baits.

 

The appearance of the Argentine ant

The Linepithema Humile is one of the smallest ant species with their size ranging from 2 to 3mm. You can set them apart from the other ants mostly by the fact that they don’t own a sting and wings. Their body is hairless and has a light brown colour. You can easily distinguish the males and the queens as they are darker in colour and bigger in size.

When you crush any of the Argentine ants, they will release a musty smell contrary to most other species that release a sharp acidic smell. You can see them usually walking together in a straight line.

 

The behaviour of the Argentine ant

The invasive nature and highly developed survival skill of the Linepithema humile have been the main reasons for their high success rate in invading people’s homes and gardens. They are highly competitive and according to a study by the Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, are more likely to behave aggressively towards other ant species. In a situation where their survival depends on a battle, the Argentine Ant does not even consider the option to retreat. Those skills are what makes them so hard to get rid of and why every treatment you start needs to be taken very seriously and repeated after a certain period of time.

 

Habitat of the Argentine ant

The nests of the Argentine Ants can be found mostly outside in various places such as:

  • In cracks of the walls of your house
  • Under rocks, wood piles, and bricks
  • On the sides of your patios, walkways and flower beds
  • At the base of trees and big bushes;
  • Close to sprinkles and other water sources;
  • Around window and door frames, electrical sockets, and under sinks.

The nests are mostly shallow and can be easily spotted. However, if there is an abandoned deep nest by another ant species, the Argentine ants might set up there.

 

Get help from Fantastic Services

Dealing with a serious infestation that involves chemical treatment is no joke. If you are not familiar with the labels, there is a chance that you might choose the wrong pesticide and make the situation even worse. If things get out of control, don’t hesitate to let the professionals of Fantastic Services take care of your ant problem. The certified pest technicians will quickly identify the origin of the infestation and implement the best techniques in dealing with it.

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Image source: Shutterstock/Victor Suarez Nuranjo

Posted in Pest Issues

Last update: June 11, 2019

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