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Argentine Ant biology, identification

Argentine Ant Image

Inspecting for Argentine Ants

Argentine Ant elimination 

Kill argentine ant colonies by drenching mounds with
Demon, Cynoff

Argentine Ant Biology, Identification
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The Argentine ant is a one node, small, shiny, brown ant with only one size of worker.  Workers are usually about 1/12 to 1/8 inch long.  The queen ants are much larger, sometimes reaching 1/4 inch in length.  This ant is found throughout the Southeastern United States and Southern California.  They nest outdoors under logs, concrete slabs, debris and mulch.  Argentine ants build very large colonies and can move rapidly.  During winter months, this ant will move indoors.

This ant is successful and hard to control because:

  • Different Argentine ant colonies in a same general locale are not enemies.  Even the many queens in a single colony or separate colonies are friendly to each other.
  • Argentine ants are not too "picky" when choosing a suitable site to infest or colonize.  They readily (as you will read about in "Inspecting for Argentine Ants") move their nests during the changing seasons and other conditions.
  • These pests are omnivorous; they seem to never be in short supply of food.
  • Each colony of Argentine ants contains a multitude of workers.
  • Each worker is more courageous and harder worker than most ants.   Creatures that attempt to prey on Argentine ants are confronted with an army of stubborn bugs that never runs from a fight!
  • The queens of most ant species are usually egg-laying machines.   The queen ant of Argentines actually helps in the care, grooming and feeding of her young.
  • Most species of ants mate and reproduce by swarming; the Argentine mates in the colony, unexposed to the perils of birds, frogs, lizards, predator insects and extreme weather conditions.  A swarmer reproductive (as seen with fireants and carpenter ants) has about 1 chance in 1,000 of surviving and successfully reproducing.  The Argentine ant queen always succeeds!
  • This ant pest has no natural enemies (of any importance) in the United States.

Argentine Ant Image        

Argentine Ant
Click on image to view; hit Back Button on browser to return.

Inspecting for Argentine Ants
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Without proper inspection, you will not kill ants of this type.  All possible nests must be eliminated for ant control.  After learning how to inspect for these pests, go to Argentine Ant elimination.

In the Spring, the nest can be found in open ground with small piles of excavated earth a short distance from the nest holes.   Form boards along sidewalks, patios, driveways, and wooden objects of any kind are preferred as nesting sites and runways.  The area beneath a plant infested with "ant cows" often will be honey-combed with their tunnels.  The ants may be encountered in great numbers in and under dead and decaying stumps.

During warm weather, the Argentines might favor the undersides of houses and may use the mudsills as their runways, even establishing themselves in the home itself.  During the Summer months, the nests of this ant are very shallow, usually only one or two inches below the surface of the soil.  An occasional exception can be found in the roots of large trees located in favorable areas to the Argentine ant.

Argentine ants begin to migrate and congregate into super "ant cities" during Autumn, where you can find hundreds of queens.  To locate these colonies, inspect beneath any ground "clutter" such as piles of construction materials, boards, sheets of tin or plywood and even decaying plant material.  It is in these warm, protected areas that the Argentine Ant will retreat from the ravages of Winter.

Winter months can take their toll on many insect populations, if the insects have not found a suitable are to retreat.  The Argentine ant will many times move their colonies into man-made structures.  Although free standing homes might become targets of this pest, larger structures (apartment buildings, office buildings, condominiums, industrial sites, etc.) are more apt to be infested.  Possible areas that need inspection include any warm, hidden areas (moisture often is another key; condensation, etc.) such as conduit pipes.  In homes, hot water lines and areas around hot tubs are good examples of possible nesting sites.
Spring brings us full circle in the migration of Argentine ants.  The huge ant population breaks up into smaller groups, each containing one or more queen ants.   These smaller groups will migrate to the areas discussed in the Spring months section of this article.  In the case of overcrowding or "false Spring" you might find a small colony (containing one or two queen ants) trying to nest beneath a damp mop or wet dish rag and other such places.   This is not often the case, but is well worth remembering when establishing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program or inspecting for possible Argentine ant colonies.

Argentine Ant Elimination
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Eliminating these pests should be done by combining chemical and non-chemical pest control in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.  For good pest control, use both methods in concert!

Non-chemical ant control methods
Products and application for eliminating Argentine ants

Non-chemical control methods
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Altering conditions which are contributing factors to Argentine ant infestations is the first order of business.  Limiting their access to your home and restricting moisture in the area will reduce their numbers and make migration (during seasonal change) more difficult.  If possible, make any structural changes that will reduce condensation (on windows, plumbing, interior walls, etc.) in your home.  Do not allow excessive watering of lawns and flower beds create more moist conditions which Argentine ants dearly love.  Adjust sprinkler heads accordingly.
Remove any objects (such as boards, construction materials, etc.) under which Argentine ants might try to colonize or hide.
Keeping vegetation to a minimum around your home will help.  First, it will make inspecting for existing  colonies easier.  If all colonies are not eliminated, the infestation will constantly reappear and the pests will continue to enter the structure and spread across the entire property.  Excess vegetation also gives the ant better cover in which to hide.  But (and this is important!) the biggest problem with vegetation close to the home is that it acts as a bridge or highway for the ants to enter your home.  Trim shrubs and trees so that they do not touch the structure.   A two foot clearance is best.  Make sure that no tree limbs are any closer than five feet from the roof.
If possible, use pea-gravel instead of organic material for mulch.  Argentine ants prefer organic materials, large pine bark and other such objects under which they will hide or colonize.

Products and application for eliminating Argentine ants
Indoor Applications
Outdoor Applications
Argentine Ant Elimination Summary
Order Products for Argentine Ant Elimination

Although Argentine ants will sometimes accept commercial baits, you will have greater control over the infestation by using contact insecticides.  Baits are best to use only when there is an indoor infestation and the colonies cannot be located for treating with Delta Dust or pesticide sprays.
The best active ingredient (i.e.) to use in eliminating Argentine ants is Cypermethrin.  This material is available in Demon EC, Cynoff EC and Cypermethrin EC 4 Ounce.   Each of these products contain Cypermethrin, each will yield different amounts:
Demon EC makes 32 gallons; Cynoff EC makes 64 gallons; Cypermethrin EC makes 8 gallons.  For most infestations of Argentine ants, Cypermethrin 4 Ounce is too small to treat all existing colonies and follow-up with regular preventative spraying.  Most of our customers use Demon or Cynoff for Argentine Ants and Fire Ants.
Although Cypermethrin is also available in wettable powder formulations (Demon WP, Cynoff WP,) liquid concentrates (any Cypermethrin in EC form) are more economical when dealing with ants which have large populations, multiple mounds and large mounds.  Liquid concentrates simply give you more finished product for your money.

Indoor pesticide applications:
If Argentine ants have invaded your home, spray Cypermethrin along baseboards, window sills, around plumbing or where ants are most often seen.  If not, skip down to Outdoor Pesticide Application.
Look for and spray any possible entry point or hiding place.  Our Chapin sprayer has an adjustable tip for spraying entry points and baseboards or for slowly drenching ant mounds.  If you have determined that the ants have established colonies in your walls, it may be necessary to apply an insecticide dust (Delta Dust is the best) to any void where you suspect ant or other insect activity.   Use a Crusader Duster for applying Delta Dust to wall voids, cracks and crevices.  For smaller infestations, insecticide dust might not be needed.
If you know there are a great deal of these ants in your walls (or other inaccessible areas) but cannot locate them for dust application, bait indoors with Maxforce granular bait.  When using baits, do not use insecticide sprays or dusts in the same area.  Insecticides will contaminate your bait.

Outdoor pesticide applications:
Once all ant colonies have been located, treating the nests is quite simple.  All visible mounds must be drenched (or soaked) with high volume of Cypermethrin under low pressure.  Simply "fan-spraying" the surface of individual mounds does not work.  Each nest needs to be thoroughly drenched.
All mulch needs to be sprayed.  Argentine ants will often thrive in the damp organic materials we use around our homes and in landscaping.  Also spray a barrier around your home; an area 4 to 6 feet wide around the structure should suffice.
Fan spray all tree trunks and soil adjacent to the trunk.  This will not harm the tree and is perfectly safe for pets and wildlife, when label instruction are followed and treated areas are allowed to dry.  Also, fan spray all landscape timbers, decorative stones and rocks, or any other object which might look inviting to Argentine ants.

Order Products for Argentine Ant Elimination

Summary of Argentine Ant Elimination

Use Cypermethrin (Demon EC, Cynoff EC, Cypermethrin EC 4 Oz.) for spraying inside and out, and for drenching existing mounds and colonies.
Treat (spray) beneath any object which might harbor Argentine ants.
Fan-spray tree trunks, mulch and a good ground perimeter around your home.
Treat any crack or crevice that might serve as a hiding place or entry point, both inside your home and on the outside surface with Demon or Cynoff.
Use Delta Dust in cracks, crevices, hiding places and along plumbing lines when exterminating indoor ant populations.

How to Order Argentine Ant Elimination Products

Cynoff EC -- Each quart of Cynoff EC will make 64 gallons of solution.

Demon EC -- Each pint of Demon EC will make 32 gallons of solution.

Cypermethrin EC -- Each 4 ounce bottle of insecticide concentrate makes 8 gallons of solution.
Same active ingredient found in Cyper, Demon and Cynoff products.

Delta Dust -- Packaged in a 1 pound container; also available in 5 pound container.
Water-proof dust is best applied with a hand bellows type duster.

Crusader Duster -- This hand-bellows duster/applicator is used when placing dusts or fine baits into cracks & crevices.

Chapin Sprayer -- Durable poly sprayer with 1 gallon capacity.


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Argentine ant elimination    Argentine ant biology, identification