Pest Issues

Argentine Ants and How to Get Rid of Them

By Javier Chiavone /

The Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) is a highly invasive species of ants that terrorise Australian households. They can make a supercolony quicker than you realise and are incredibly protective of their territory.

They ranked in the world’s top 100s worst invaders, and they threaten almost every native ant species in Australia. Not only that, but they also can carry a virus called Linepithema humile virus-1 (LHUV-1). This virus affects bees as well, harming their population as well. All native animals in Australia play an important role in the ecosystem. That makes the Argentine ant a threat.

This article will help you if:

  • You noticed an increasing number of ants in their home and wants to know what species they are;
  • There is a severe Argentine ant infestation on your property, and you want to know how to take care of it properly;
  • You had an infestation like this before and want to know how to prevent it.

Keep on reading to discover how to recognise the Argentine ant and most importantly, how to get rid of them in your home.

In this article:

How to recognise Argentine ants

The Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) is one of the smallest ant species in the world – they’re only 2-3 mm big! They have a hairless body and a light-brown colour. Their colonies can have numerous queens. You can easily distinguish the males and the queens as they are darker and bigger than the workers. They don’t have a sting but they will bite you.

You can recognise these ants by their slow-moving long trails. They typically nest in urban areas, outside a building. They will come inside in large numbers to seek food or to escape heavy rainfall and flooded nests.

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The Argentine ants’ invasive nature and highly developed survival skills have been the main reasons for their success in invading people’s homes and gardens. Even though this type of ant species mostly live outdoors, they will still find a way to get inside your home to find nutrition.

If a situation requires the Argentine ants to attack, they will. According to a study by the Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, they are highly competitive and are more likely to behave aggressively towards other ant species. Retreat is not an option. This behaviour is what makes them so hard to get rid of. Every treatment you start needs to be taken very seriously and repeated after a certain period.

Argentine ants build shallow nests that you can easily spot if you know what you’re looking for. However, if a colony from different ant species has abandoned its nest, the Argentine ants might settle there.

Places where you should check for an Argentine ant nest:

  • Cracks of the walls of your house;
  • Under rocks, woodpiles, and bricks;
  • Along 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 soil they prefer is moist, and the place should be near a food source.

How to get rid of Argentine ants naturally

To get rid of any pest, you must understand its needs and what’s vital for its survival. Argentine ants always make their nests close to a water and food source. When they go out in search of nutrition, they leave special “pheromone” trails behind to avoid places they’ve already checked and have no food.

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. Here are some simple steps that will help you get rid of ants and prevent other pest infestations.

  1. Identify the ants. The first step should be to identify the ant species you’re dealing with. This will help you identify the nest as well.
  2. Locate the ant nest. One thing you 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.
  3. Limit access to water. The Argentine ants are attracted to moisture. Inspect your home for leaking pipes, sinks, etc. If there are any, we have a handy guide on how to take care of it yourself.
  4. Limit access to food. Of course, the ants won’t be on your property if they don’t find food there. Remove all food sources, store food in canisters, throw away leftovers, and close the lids on bins tightly.
  5. Limit access to your home. / Remove their entry points. If the Argentine ants found their way into your home, they probably found a crack or a crevice in the wall or roof. 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 several entries, they will just find others.
  6. Do some preventative garden work. Trim the trees in your backyard and especially the green life that’s close to the walls of your home. This will limit the ants and prevent other pests like rats and possums from getting in.
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Use slow-acting poison liquid ant baits

If you’d don’t want to use pesticides, but you still want to do something more to battle the Argentine ants, you can use liquid ant baits. It’s a popular treatment that includes a system that feeds the ants. It won’t attract new ones to your property.

Place the bait inside or outside your home in places where you’ve seen the most activity. The ants will get attracted by the bait’s smell, and they will take it and bring it to the rest of the colony, which will eventually kill it. If they have a constant food source, they will not feel tempted to go inside your home or to rummage your garden. 

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 nest.

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Using pesticides to battle Argentine ants is impractical

Using pesticides to treat Argentine Ants might not be the smartest idea. It will just stimulate egg-laying, which will eventually make the colony bigger.

Argentine ants can recover their losses from an attack quickly, even if you’ve used an insecticide. One of the reasons is that the product will only kill the ants that were on the 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.

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 their lost soldiers.

How professional ant controllers can help you

Dealing with an Argentine ant infestation is no joke. Using the wrong pesticide (read any pesticide) might worsen the situation. If things get out of control, There’s no better option than contacting a local pest control company to deal with the problem. By helping to eradicate the Argentine ant, you’re helping the Australian ecosystem to strengthen. 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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Just type in your postcode, click on the button & a professional pest controller will come to the rescue!

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  • Don’t use pesticides to treat Argentine ants. It’s impractical and might worsen the situation;
  • You can use simple prevention methods like limiting water and food sources;
  • Notify your neighbours. The infestation might be in their home as well;
  • Contact professionals to treat your property. That’s the safest method of getting rid of Argentine ants
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