How Long Can Argentine Ants Survive Without Food?

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Argentine ants are one of the most difficult pests to get rid of in a property because they quickly re-colonize after just a few days. One of the most effective pest control methods used to eliminate these pests is depriving them of a nearby food source to prevent them from getting attracted or returning to the property.

So how long can Argentine ants live without food? Regardless of the ant species, these pests can survive up to 2 weeks without food but only 5 days without water. The average lifespan of an Argentine ant queen can stretch up to 7 years depending on the conditions while worker ants only live up to 9 months. 

Learn More: How to Differentiate Argentine Ants and Fire Ants?

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Can Argentine Ants Live Without Food?

Ants are often considered the number one nuisance pest in the country because they’re not as destructive or dangerous as other pests, but dealing with them can be extremely annoying for most people.

According to a study by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), about 80% of single-family homes and 82% of apartment buildings experience ant infestations in the United States. Pest control professionals help eliminate these pests by combining extermination services with sanitation efforts like cutting their source of food and water.

While this approach is effective in some cases, it’s also important to understand how long Argentine ant colonies and other ant species can survive with and without a nearby food source. These pests won’t die on their own so homeowners should make active efforts to eliminate them before they cause severe damage to the home. 

Average Lifespan of Argentine Ants

The average lifespan of an individual Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) depends on different factors but the 2 most important ones are the existing environmental conditions and the ant’s role in the colony. Like most ant species, Argentine ants also have a caste system made up of the queen, worker ants, and male ants.

Assuming that the environmental conditions are favorable enough for them to thrive, here are the average lifespan of Argentine ants based on their role in the ant colony:

  • Male Ants – Like other ant species, reproductive male Argentine ants die shortly after they mate with the queen.
  • Worker Ants – These ants are the sterile female ants that frequently step out and forage food for the entire colony. Their lifespan usually reaches about 6 to 9 months with favorable environmental conditions and stable food sources.
  • Queen Ants – Most Argentine ant queens live up to 7 years with the right conditions. If the existing colony is strong and has a lot of food supply, then its ant queen can reproduce more worker ants and lengthen its lifespan. Large Argentine ant colonies may have hundreds of queens and thousands of workers. 

Lifespan of Argentine Ants Without Food

There aren’t enough studies or research that explore the average lifespan of Argentine ants to draw a conclusion. However, ants are believed to survive for up to 2 weeks if they are deprived of food and 5 days if they lack water sources, regardless of their species. 

Lifespan of Argentine Ants VS. Other Ants

Despite being part of the same genus, some species vary in lifespan. Argentine ants are no exception to this rule, as they differ in lifespan from other ants like fire ants, carpenter ants, flying ants, sugar ants, and black garden ants, among others.  

1) Fire Ants

Compared to Argentine ants, queen fire ants live a shorter life of only 2 to 6 years. The male fire ants in the colony die a couple of days after mating with the queen ant and the worker ants only survive for up to a few weeks or months. Their lifespan is mostly dependent on the temperature of the ant colony and the size of the individual ant – smaller ants only survive for a couple of weeks while larger ants can live for 6 months at a time. 

2) Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are one of the most destructive types of ants because they attack the wooden structures in a home. If left on their own, their queens can live up to an average of 7 to 10 years or 20 years with favorable environmental conditions. The worker ants of the colony can live up to a year while the male ants die a couple of days after mating with the queen.

3) Flying Ants

Flying ants have a longer lifespan than most common kinds of ants. Their queens can survive for 15 years to a couple of decades with the right conditions. As for the worker ants, they usually live up to a year if they manage to survive extermination methods. Like other ant species, the male fire ants die after mating with the queen of the ant colony. 

4) Sugar Ants

Sugar ant queens live up to around 7 years, but the worker ants only survive for up to 2 months even with favorable conditions. This is a lot shorter than other worker ant species that survive for a couple of months up to a year. The male sugar ants also die shortly after mating with the queen ant of the colony. 

5) Black Garden Ants

Another species of ant known for its long lifespan is the black garden ant. The queen may live up to 15 years on average, but there have also been instances when the queen survived for 30 years under favorable conditions. If the colony is strong and has a lot of stored food, the ant queen produces more worker ants that forage more resources, prolonging the queen’s life span. 

Learn More: How To Tell If Your Ants Are Argentine Ants

What Do Argentine Ants Eat?

Argentine ants are opportunistic feeders that eat just about anything available to them. Like humans, they need food as fuel when doing different activities. What’s interesting about this ant species is that their diet adapts to the type of environment they have. 

For example, these pests become predators of smaller ants and other insects in the wild but switch to a sugar-filled diet when there are no longer insects around.

Argentine ants are also known as invasive species that compete with the native ant species of an area for territory and resources. Here are some of their favorite treats to eat and forage:

  1. Sweets and Sugary Drinks

Argentine ants easily get their sugar from many food sources like nectar or flower. These ants especially like nectar because it contains two kinds of sugars: fructose and glucose. They also eat honeydew extract left behind by other insects. It’s a sugary and sticky liquid produced by aphids whenever they eat plants. Some aphids take advantage of this and trade their honeydew to the ant colony for protection against some predators and natural enemies. 

  1. Pet Food

It’s also common for homeowners to find Argentine ants feasting on the leftover crumbs and food on pet bowls. Pet food is packed with proteins from different animal and meat sources that Argentine ants need to survive. It’s also a good source of starch, glucose, fructose, fat, and fiber that Argentine ants love. Washing the pets bowl after every meal time helps minimize the chances of Argentine ants finding them and infesting your home. 

  1. Dead Insects

Like other kinds of ants, Argentine ants also have an appetite for the flesh of termites and other dead insects in their vicinity. They like eating the oil from the bodies of dead insects and worms so they cut the carcass into smaller pieces before bringing it back to the nest. Some pest control professionals also use oils when baiting these ants because they prefer dead insects. 

4 Signs of Argentine Ant Infestation in Your Home

ant infestation at home, pest control needed

Having a few ants scuttling around the countertops, cabinets, and floors might be normal but if there are too many of them too frequently, then it might be a sign of a huge ant infestation in your home. Watch out these common signs of ant infestation to find out if you need to get your home checked: 

  1. Lines of Live Ants in the Kitchen and Moist Areas

Unlike rats, mice, and other pests that hide at the sight of humans, it’s easier to spot live ants scurrying around and trying to take crumbs of leftover food into their colony. Argentine ants are small at 1/16 inch long, but they travel in trails so it’s easy to see them forming lines to and from the food source. They’re also light to dark brown instead of the usual red or black.

  1. There’s a Colony Nearby

Ant nests are easy to miss because they simply look like a pile of dirt on the ground. If you’re looking for ant colonies around the house, check moist areas like water pipes, potted plants, and sinks. They may also build their nest outside the building, such as areas underneath stones and plants, inside rotting tree limbs and stumps, along the sidewalk, and beneath boards. 

  1. Ants Are Coming Out of Wall Cracks

Argentine ants love using existing entry points in wall cracks and holes so make sure to seal them as soon as they’re spotted. Ants coming out of the walls, windows, and other gaps walk in trails because they lay down pheromones for other ants to follow whenever they’re out in search of food and water sources.

One of the best ways to disrupt this pheromone trail and leave the ants confused is by spraying a mixed solution of water and vinegar to their common pathways. Essential oils like cayenne pepper and peppermint also achieve the same effects. 

  1. Rustling Noises Inside Walls

Aside from traveling between the walls and wall cracks, some colonies of Argentine ants might also build their homes inside the house wall itself. When the colony is big and there are thousands of ants living there, they create rustling noises inside the walls that become louder at night or as they grow in numbers. 

Ants building nests inside the walls might also result in hollow-sounding walls since they chew and dig through the wood when creating tunnels and galleries that lead them to their nest. 

What’s the Best Way to Eliminate Argentine Ants?

Argentine ants are one of the most difficult ant species to get rid of in a property because they can quickly recolonize the area if some of them come from an untreated neighboring property. It only takes them about 2 weeks to take over the previously treated property again if the extermination service isn’t done right.

Most Argentine ant nests are found outside but if homeowners find them foraging inside the building, there are 2 types of exclusion methods to prevent them from entering:

Physical Exclusion

This involves cleaning up food and debris inside and around the house. It’s also a good idea to check the walls, vents, and crawl spaces for cracks and gaps that Argentine ants might use to enter the home. However, it’s important to remember that these pests are extremely resourceful and they might find other ways to enter the house, so make sure to remove everything that might attract them inside. 

Chemical Exclusion

Insecticide barriers sprayed around the entire perimeter of the house help keep the ants from entering the house through window sills and doorways. Some of the most common insecticide sprays for eliminating ants in a household contain ingredients like cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, cypermethrin, permethrin, and bifenthrin. Make sure to read the label of the insecticide to find out its active ingredient and see if it’s the best pick for your property. 

Read More: How To Get Rid Of Argentine Ants Naturally

Protect Your Home From Ant Infestations with Pinnacle Pest Control

pest control worker spraying pesticide for argentine ant control

Cutting off food and water sources help keep Argentine ants away from a property, but this method alone won’t be enough to eliminate the existing ant infestation. If the homemade repellents don’t seem to reduce the ant population, then it’s time to consult a pest management professional like Pinnacle Pest Control about the best treatment methods for your household pest problem.

At Pinnacle Pest Control, we make sure to remove the ant problem, prevent re-colonization, and restore the comfort and safety of your home. Get your peace of mind back and get in touch with us today to learn more about our environment-friendly solutions or to request a free quote.

Guaranteed Pest Extermination Services, Right at Your Doorstep

No matter what kind of pest problem you’re dealing with, you can count on Pinnacle Pest Control to provide top-notch pest extermination services. With decades of experience under our name, we have already helped hundreds of residents and business owners in Sacramento eliminate pests in their property and keep them away for good.

Call Now

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