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How Did Non-Native Argentine Ants Arrive In Louisiana?

Ants are one of the pests that it seems everyone has to deal with no matter where you live. But, there are certain ant species that can prove to be more troublesome to homeowners than others. One of these ant species is the Argentine ant, also sometimes referred to as a sugar ant. These ants aren’t native to the United States, though, and likely were introduced to Louisiana around the 1870’s after hitching a ride on ships transporting coffee to the states from Brazil. They quickly spread, and have been a serious pain in our backsides ever since.

Argentine ants are one of the ant species that are more of a nuisance to people than most. This is primarily because they are known for invading people’s homes, invading our houses in search of sugary food. People tend to find them marching in wide, neat trails inside their homes, usually towards an obvious food or water source. These are the little buggers you will notice congregating in your kitchen if it is less than spotless. They will often invade homes during the winter as well to escape the cold weather. Thankfully, they’re more annoying than anything else, as they don’t bite or sting humans. What really makes them so troublesome are their large colonies, which can contain numerous queens. They are only 2-3 mm long and brown or black in color. Unlike ant species like the fire ant, Argentine ant workers are all the same size. The easiest way to tell if you have a nest inside your home is by looking for ants carrying cream colored or white brood (their eggs), as the eggs are immobile and so must be carried by worker ants if they need to be moved.

They are also incredibly difficult to get rid of, and the country has been trying to control them to no avail since the early 1900’s. One feature that makes them so difficult to control is that they are all the same size, with most of the worker ants hanging out inside your home, and only a small fraction of foraging ants being sent outside. This means if you treat the outside of the house, only a small number of the colony will be killed, and are easily replaced by simply sending more worker ants to serve as foragers. Since their colonies are so large and contain many queens, these ants can simply scatter and create new colonies with whatever ants survive when you do a broadcast spray around the house, which is the most common method of control. They are not territorial, so they don’t fight, and on top of all this, they are very mobile and are adept at simply relocating to other areas of your house. They can be an absolute nightmare to deal with if they infest your home.

Have you ever found trails of Argentine ants walking around in your home?

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