The Argentine Ant is native to Argentina and Brazil. This ant was probably introduced to the United States at New Orleans via coffee ships. Argentine ants are now found in California, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Missouri, Washington, Georgia, Florida and possibly Virginia. These ants are most likely transported from one place to another in landscape materials and potted plants.
They vary from light to dark brown in color. Their profile is unevenly rounded, they have no stinger and the antenna has a club like appearance. The worker ants are about 1/8 in. long; queens are 2 to 4 times the length of workers. When stepped on, the Argentine ant will have a stale greasy or musty order.
Argentine ant colonies are found in moist situations near a food source. They spread to form new colonies in the spring and summer. They can have a few hundred to several thousand workers and many queens. In fall, colonies will join together to form huge over wintering nests called super-colonies. Winged female reproduces are rarely seen because mating takes place inside the nest. Egg development is 33 to 141 days.
Feeding and habitat:
Unlike most ants, Argentine ants intermix with other colonies and do not fight for territory. They will join colonies together forming super-colonies. Due to their strength in numbers they will eat most food that would support other insects and animals. Because of their large co-existing colonies they will kill, eat or drive out other insects, and ant colonies; as well as lizards, snakes, spiders and even domesticated honeybees.
If they nest in or around structures they are a great nuisance because they will be in large numbers. Inside, these ants nest around moisture such as pipes, sinks and in potted plants. They prefer sweet foods such as sugars and syrups, but will eat almost any type of food.
There is an increase in population of aphids, mealy bugs and other sucking pests which are harmful to plants and plant life. These insects produce a sweet excretion called honeydew. Argentine ants feed on this honeydew and therefore protect and shelter these of insects.
Outside, the Argentine ant lives in shallow nests located in moist areas, such as under boards or stones, beneath plants and along sidewalks. This ant crawls over almost anything including refuse, sewage, and sputum. Because of this they may carry the disease organism that causes dysentery. Argentine ants invade buildings in large numbers when conditions outside become either too wet or too dry to live. A decrease in food supply will drive them inside to seek out sweets.
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Common Arizona ANTS
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