How To Tell If Your Ants Are Argentine Ants

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Invasive ant species are introduced populations that can successfully displace native ant species from their habitats. It's always a good idea to identify invasive species because a lack of discrimination will make it hard to find the control methods applicable to them, whether it be physical contraptions or chemical solutions.

So how do you tell if your ants are Argentine ants? An Argentine ant population is mainly identified based on their appearance and behavior. Meanwhile, things like their diet, habitat, as well as their reproduction and life cycle are helpful in identifying them too. Knowing what ant species are infesting your home is necessary to know what the right treatment plan for them should be.

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

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Identification Of Argentine Ants

Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) are ants that are light to dark brown in color and are native to South America. They have become cosmopolitan in distribution due to the globalization of trade and travel, such as them being brought to the United States in coffee ships from Brazil in the 1800s. 

1) Appearance

Argentine ants are stingless insects with oval-shaped bodies. They have shiny, velvety bodies, and they don't have hairs. Like other insects, Argentine ants have 6 legs in them. Their heads and bodies are segmented, with a petiole (the part of the body that connects the thorax and abdomen) made up of a single, scale-like segment and with antennae made up of 12 segments.

Argentine ants are described to be monomorphic, meaning they don't have many differences in their appearance within species. However, they do differ in size, with the usual size of worker ants ranging from 2.2 to 2.8 mm, while the size of queens is slightly larger (4 to 6 mm). 

2) Behavior

Argentine ants, like any other ant species, are social insects, with the success of the Argentine ant colonies based on the cooperation within their ranks. The queen stays inside the nest and lays eggs that make up the entire colony and may be replaced if necessary such that the entire colony won't die off if the queen is killed.

Different colonies may also bud off and have different queens, but they remain connected with each other so ant workers may be shared across colonies. Typically, budding off and changing queens are just due to which may be due to temperature or colony pressures.

Meanwhile, the ant workers forage for food and defend the Argentine ant nest. Pheromone trails are followed by these ant workers, which help in the rapid recruitment of other ant workers on food sources. The ant workers also secrete a distinctive musty odor when crushed or disturbed.

The aggressive behavior of these ants is damaging to native fauna. Aside from displacing other native ant species, they also often attack birds and other native fauna. They also rob food from bees and other honeydew-producing insects.

3) Diet

The Argentine ants are classified as omnivores, meaning they can eat anything, may it be flesh or plant-based food. They usually prefer sweets and greasy products, with some of their food preferences including dead insects, pet food, and honeydew.

4) Habitat

Argentine ants live in environments made up of moderate temperature and moisture levels. Argentine ant invasions are said to be exacerbated by human activity, as agriculture and housing have made environments suitable to be thrived in by these ants.

Argentine ants are known urban dwellers, where they may be found outside buildings, at trees, or on lawns. They may also be found in low-lying areas where they can thrive at optimum moisture content.

5) Reproduction And Life Cycle

Complete metamorphosis is exhibited by Argentine ants, with the development and survival in these stages (egg, larva, pupa, and adult) dependent on temperature, so it's not surprising that they have a peak of reproduction, which is in January to June. The worker ants also survive for long periods, with life spans of 10 to 12 months.

The wingless Argentine ant queens mate with males within their nests, preferably those that aren't related to them because producing inbreds make them lose their post as the queen. Instead of the queens, it's the winged males that partake in "nuptial flights", surviving up to 14.1 days when they fly and look for other colonies.

Signs Of Argentine Ant Infestation 

The most telltale sign of Argentine ant infestation is organized ant trails that are usually three ants wide and made up of uniform-looking brown ants that travel towards buildings, trees, or homes. They're actively in search of a place of optimal food source and moisture, which may be houses, buildings, or trees. These ants also readily climb your fingers when you place them along their trails unlike other species of ants.

Read More: How To Get Rid Of Argentine Ants Naturally

Control And Prevention Of Argentine Ants 

pest control worker spraying pesticide for argentine ants

The first step of pest control entails the identification of the pest you are dealing with, done through looking at the characteristics of Argentine ants that are listed here. Identification of signs of infestation of ants is then done to know the targets of your pest control.

Some ways to treat Argentine ant infestation include physical and chemical means.

Physical exclusion entails identifying and sealing off entry points so that ants won't be able to go inside your homes. Likewise, sources of food must also be made sure to be inaccessible to these ants. It also helps to keep your homes clean by regularly sweeping or vacuuming. You must also fix leaky pipes to avoid moisture and keep Argentine ants out.. 

Chemical exclusion, on the other hand, entails the use of insecticide sprays with active ingredients that are toxic to these pets. However, caution must be done because these may also pose harm to you and your pets. As such, the use of natural products such as lemon eucalyptus oil or less toxic substances such as liquid detergent may be used as an alternative means to deter ants.

Differentiating Other Species Of Ants From Argentine Ants 

In the United States, millions of ants have initiated biological invasions that impacted many aspects of the lives of people. For example, they're considered nuisance pests in many industries especially because they don't have natural enemies that can drive them away unlike native species.

It may seem hard to differentiate these ant species because of their small sizes, but characteristics that are unique to these ants may help in differentiating them from Argentine ants and from other ants. 

1) Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.) are brown to black ants with elbowed antennae. They got their name from using wood to make their nests, which is the reason why they're usually mistaken for Eastern subterranean termites. Unlike termites, carpenter ants don't eat wood. Instead, their diet consists of fruit juices or dead insects. The fact that they use woods as nests may also be used for the management of this ant species.

Worker ants of carpenter ants are wingless, with lengths of 1/4 to 1/2 inch while queen ants are winged and slightly longer (3/4 inches). The peak season for the reproduction of these ants is June.

2) Crazy Ants

Crazy ants (Paratrechina longicornis) are dark brown to black ants, sometimes with a bluish tinge, that got their name because of their unpredictable, erratic movements. Like the Argentine ants, they're also omnivorous, but of seasonal preference, with diets consisting of honey which may be switched for a high-protein diet during the summer.

These ants have long, coarse, and grayish or whitish setae (hair-like features) that project out of their bodies. They have incredibly long legs and tilting petioles. They also don't have stingers but they can inject formic acid from their acidopore (their terminal orifice that's surrounded with setae) to wound sites.

The peak season for the reproduction of these ants is May through September.

3) Odorous House Ants

Odorous house ants (Tapinoma sessile) are brownish-black, hairless ants that are often mistaken for Argentine ants due to similarities in appearance at first glance. Their bodies are segmented and oval, with sizes ranging 1/16 to 1/8 inches. Like Argentine ants, they also like sugary and sticky foods. Favorite spots of these insects include wall voids and under floors.

These two species differ from each other mostly through the odor that they produce when crushed. Odorous house ants typically release a rotten coconut smell, while Argentine ants release a muskier smell. The peak season for the reproduction of odorous ants is March through September, which are warmer months compared to the colder seasons when Argentine ants reproduce.

4) Pavement Ants

Pavement ants (Tetramorium caespitum) are dark brown to black ants with a single, flag-shaped stinger that increases the surface area for pheromones. They have parallel ridges on their head and thorax. They have segmented bodies, with waists that have 2 segments (the petiole and post-petiole) and antennae that have 12 segments.

They're also omnivores and feed on honeydew and dead insects. They forage for these natural foods during the summer while they go indoors during the winter. They're frequently found on concrete slabs.

5) Red Imported Fire Ants

Red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) are ants that have dark red to reddish-brown bodies, bearing stings with alkaloid poison at the tip of their black abdomen (otherwise known as the gaster). The waists of these ants are made of 2 segments. The worker ants are polymorphic, meaning they differ in size, ranging from 2.4 to 6 mm (1/8 to 1/4 inches). 

Noticeable nest mounds are made by these ants from soil and may be as large as 46 cm (18") in diameter, which they aggressively defend from intruders. They usually come out and have maximum activity during the spring and fall when the weather is mild.

Control Argentine Ants And Other Pests Through Pinnacle Pest Control’s Professional Services

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Argentine ants are nuisance pests that may be differentiated from other ant species through different characteristics unique to them. Differentiation of the species is especially important because different species also have different methods of management and prevention.

At Pinnacle Pest Control, we're especially knowledgeable in dealing with different types of ant species and coming up with unique treatment plans to exterminate them successfully. We're committed to giving the best pest control services through our team of experts  and the use of state-of-the-art technologies. Get back your peace of mind and contact us now at 916.381.5793.

Learn More: Why Are Argentine Ants Bad?

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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