Why Argentine Ants Invade Homes and How to Exterminate Them

Ants Bakersfield

Why Argentine Ants Invade Homes and How to Exterminate Them

Ant control problems is the number one concern PestX Bakersfield receives calls about. So we do our best to provide information to help our customers prevent problems even before they begin. If you’re having ant problems in Southern California, chances are you’re dealing with Argentine ants – as they are a common species of ants in Southern California.

Why do you need to know that seemingly trivial fact? Because knowing what species of ant you are dealing with gives you the clues you need to successfully exterminate it, as ants have many variables – things such as where and how those ants live, what kind of bait they go after, and what methods of extermination are especially effective against them.

So let’s consider the Argentine ant, a formidable enemy because of their tendency to be aggressive and to join up with other colonies of ants, creating massive colonies that can be difficult to exterminate if not addressed properly.

Why are Agentine ants so inclined to invade homes?

1. The Argentine ant’s natural habitats are prone to disruption

linhum10a
By Penarc [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Argentine ants prefer shallow nests, often only 1-2 inch mounds, according the University of California’s Integrated Pest Management Program. Professors at Clemson University further explain that Argentine ants often nest under debris, such as fallen leaves, wood piles, trash or mulch, or even concrete slabs. When those nests are disrupted by well-meaning and vigilant humans trying to keep their yards clean precisely in an effort prevent pest problems such as these, it often results in the opposite effect. Ants who are not killed scatter and try to find protection, which often ends up being within the home. That is why it is imperative to thoroughly address the entire infestation or the ants will simply re-nest and the problem will start all over again.

2. The Argentine ant’s natural habitats are often close to homes
When Argentine ants aren’t nesting in piles of fallen leaves or under debris, they like to find homes near shrubs or in cavities in trees. This often brings ants close to homes, as common landscaping includes shrubs up against the home or tree branches that extend near the home. The professors at Clemson University address these typical trouble areas by suggesting that home owners keep shrubbery and plants trimmed so they do not have direct contact against the home. Similarly, tree branches should be trimmed back so that they do not offer a direct path to the home, either by reaching to the wall or roof of the home or by touching electrical wires which then provide a path into the home.

3. The Argentine ant likes moisture

Argentine Ant
Argentine ant (Linepithema humile). Photo by Alex Wild. Used with permission.

Another reason that Argentine ants are drawn to homes is because, like many insects, they need moisture. Especially in dry, semi-arid, often drought-ridden climates like Southern California, the most dependable sources of moisture come from humans. Ants are drawn to places around homes that contain moisture, like water pipes, dish washers, and kitchen sinks, according to professors at Clemson University. That’s why one part of pest control may be ensuring that no pipes are leaking water and that areas where pipes enter the home are well-sealed.

4. The Argentine ant can hide their trail under baseboards and the edges of carpet
Once inside homes, Argentine Ant invasions can persist because of the ant’s nature to find and hide in shallow spots. Baseboards and carpet edges, among other fixtures and furniture in the home, provide perfect hiding spots for ants to creep along, allowing their presence to remain hidden from humans until the infestation has spread to an undesirable degree. It is important to know where to look for ants and how to track their trail, to get to the root of the problem and prevent their return.

5. The Argentine ant reproduces prolifically
A contributing factor to the Argentine ant invading homes is how readily it can reproduce. Each colony can have multiple queens and the queens can lay thousands of eggs in one season, according to professors at Clemson University. Argentine ants are also known to merge colonies to double or even triple in size. The vast number of Argentine ants in a given colony mean that even if most of the ants are eradicated, those that remain can continue to reproduce and move around, finding new places to invade in an effort to maintain their colony.

6. The Argentine ant is aggressive
Probably the most intimidating reason that Argentine Ants invade homes is because of the ant’s aggressive nature. According to the Wayne’s World Text-Book of Natural History published by Palomar College, Argentine ants show no hesitation in taking over the nests of other species, even those larger than them and those with the ability to sting. Despite the small size of each individual Argentine ant, they use their large numbers to attack their enemy colony until they overtake it. They’ve been known to attack paper wasps, carpenter bees, and even bird nests containing baby birds that they will attack and kill. It’s not surprising then that even humans and human territory don’t seem to intimidate the Argentine Ant.

If you find yourself dealing with unwanted ants, don’t take lightly the invasion. Chances are there are many more ants than you see, just waiting to join the invasion or to extend even more invasively. Many factors are worth considering to effectively address the invasion, including understanding where the ants might be living and where they may move to if you do not thoroughly eradicate them on your first try. Although there are plenty of DIY ant control methods and preventative measures to practice, because of the Argentine ant’s aggressive nature and propensity to return time after time, professional pest control is often the best way to ensure you’ve fully exterminated the ants and keep any new ants from returning.

Don’t hesitate to call PestX Bakersfield to get a quote and have your ant control problem addressed promptly: (661) 399-9214.

Or visit us online to learn more about the passion we have for pest control in Bakersfield and Kern County: http://www.PestXBakersfield.com


Bibliography
Armstrong, W.P. (1995). The Argentine Ants. Wayne’s World, volume 4(number 3):
http://waynesword.palomar.edu/ww0403.htm

Nauman, J. Z., Zungoli, P.A., Benson, E. P. (2004, 04). Argentine ants. Retrieved from Clemson University:http://www.clemson.edu/cafls/departments/esps/factsheets/household_structural/argentine_ants_hs42.html

UC IPM. (2014, July 10). Argentine Ant. Retrieved from University of California, Integrated Pest Management Program: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/TOOLS/ANTKEY/argentine.html

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