Patricia A. Beckley, Pollet, Dale K.
Are Argentine ants trailing into your home?
About 10 different ants commonly invade your house looking for sweet foods and water. Among them are the Argentine ant, pharaoh ant, pyramid ant and acrobat ant.
Argentine ants have been reported in a few isolated areas in Louisiana. The Toledo Bend area has had large infestations for more than four years. Argentine ants have been reported in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Hammond.
These ants are different from fire ants in appearance, nesting habits and behavior. These differences make control efforts different as well.
Argentine ants are about 1/8 inch in size or the size of a small fire ant. Argentine ants are all the same size, brown and commonly nest at the base of trees. They will trail from the nest up and down the tree, feeding on the honeydew produced by aphids, scale insects and other sap-sucking insects. The colonies are 10 percent queens, and they trail along with the foraging ants. This allows the Argentine ant to form new colonies easily by infesting boats, RVs, potted plants or any structure that can be moved. The Argentines also do not fight with other Argentine colonies. If the colonies are well established, there will be no other ants, including fire ants. Eventually they have an impact on other small animals.
What Can I Do?
Get ants identified. Send a sample to a local extension agent or to the address at the bottom.
Prune all foliage away from your home. Since the ants naturally trail up and down the trees, often they will simply continue to trail from the end of the branch to your roof then enter your home through any openings they can find. If they find any type of food, they will return to the outside and recruit the other ants into your house. They communicate through odors or pheromones. If you spray the ants that come inside, that will kill only those ants.
Feed them bait. The word is out to the other ants about your food, so the best thing to do is offer them food in the form of sweet bait. A number of bait products (gel or liquid) on the market will work. The key is to keep the bait dispenser filled and fresh until the ants stop coming in. (See below)
Seal and caulk openings to the outside. This will make it more difficult for ants or any other pest to get into your home.
Get the ants out of the trees. Wrap the trees with an absorbent band of foam rubber or cotton batting fabric, cinched snugly into the bark crevices. Saturate this band with liquid insecticide labeled for ants. Saturate again when it dries out or until the ants stop trailing. This method will reduce the amount of insecticide needed to treat the trees and reduce chances of contaminating ground water.
Remove nesting sites. Rake mulch away from your house. They need moist soil and will nest where the soil stays damp.
Treat the nest. The nests are often at the base of trees and under mulch or yard debris. Rake leaves or pine needles away from trees. Saturate nest with a liquid or powder contact insecticide.
Broadcast granular bait. When the ants are out of the trees, offer liquid bait in bait stations and broadcast solid bait. Both baits will be taken back to the colony.
Liquid and solid baits can be ordered through any co-op or feed store.Your local merchant may be able to recommend other effective baits.
We have used:
Send ant samples to:
Dr. Dale K. Pollet or Patty Beckley
Extension Entomology – Ant Samples
400 Life Science Bldg
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803