ARGENTINE ANT

Linepithema humile(Mayr)

[Hymenoptera: Formicidae]

ants (1)

Article by Bruce Gow

Adult: Worker argentine ants are 2.2-2.8 mm long. The body is elongate and pale brown on head, thorax, antennae and legs, and dark brown on the gaster (abdomen).


Head: The head is large and rounded with large mandibles at the apex. Antennae are long (longer than the head and prothorax), elbowed (geniculate) with an apical club. Eyes are small (less than half the size of the head).


Thorax: The thorax is without spines. All legs are similar in shape. Wings are absent in worker castes.


Abdomen: Cerci are absent.


Reproduction & Life-cycle:

The female reproductive caste (Queen) is initially winged, but wings are lost once mated. Queens lay hundreds of eggs within the nest. Several queens may be present in one colony and are presumed to mate within the nest as no nuptial flights have been recorded. Males are produced throughout the year and can be trapped at lights. Fertilised eggs become females, usually worker caste. Eggs not fertilised become males. Males are winged, mate once and die. Soldier and worker castes are female only. Eggs are white, oval and to 1 mm long. Eggs, larvae and pupae remain in the nest in cells. The queen initially feeds larvae, but workers take over the task as the colony matures. The life span of an adult argentine ant is 1 year.

Distribution:

Argentine ants are a widespread urban pest in many parts of Europe, USA, South Africa and Australia. The species is endemic to South America.

Pest Status:

Argentine ant is the world’s most significant ant pest. Workers are aggressive and slow but efficient foragers along pheromone trails during the day and night. Colonies are opportunistic and form large nests in soil, wood, houses and under stones. Argentine ant displaces native ants, can kill native birds and is invasive to homes where it will forage throughout the house. Workers are predacious, carnivorous and granivorous, but prefer honeydew and tend or protect aphids and scale insects.

“We’re a bit more persistent than ants and would be happy to get rid of them for you, our team prides itself in excellence and we aren’t going to surprise you with hidden costs or inaccurate quotes.” – Bruce Gow (A1 Pest Control owner and certified Pest Controller)

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