California is home to around 270 species of ants. Most of these ants don’t enter homes or become serious household pests. However, the Argentine ant has spread throughout coastal and urban areas of California, and Argentine ants will enter homes.
The 1/8-inch long, dull brown Argentine ants can easily slip into cracks and crevices around your home. You may find trails and swarms of the pests in your kitchen, near pet-food bowls, and around trash storage areas. Here are four reasons why Argentine ants may be entering your home.
1. Argentine Ants Expand Their Colonies
Argentine ants are ranked as one of the world’s top 100 invasive animals. The ants continually expand their range. Argentine ants displace native ants and disrupt local wildlife-based food chains with the same relentless vigor they use to invade human structures.
Argentine ants have the following advantages:
- Multiple queens co-exist in each colony
- Workers tend aphids and mealybugs for honeydew
- Colonies reduce beneficial parasite populations
- Ants exhibit low aggression between colonies
- No specific enemies have been identified
Because Argentine ants form cooperative arrangements with other colonies of the same species, the ants can rapidly take over a backyard or garden patch. Once the ants come inside your home, the colonies can rapidly spread throughout the structure.
2. Argentine Ants Escape Dry Heat
Argentine ants need warmth and moisture to feel cozy. The species are native to northern Argentina, southern Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. In their search for warm places to colonize, Argentine ants have now invaded most of the areas in the world that have mild winters and Mediterranean climates.
In California, virtually all of the Argentine ants along the state’s coast are thought to be part of one massive super-colony of insects. While the ants appreciate the warm coastal temperatures, they also need lots of humidity to keep their mega-colonies going.
When California dries out along the coastal and urban areas, Argentine ants slip inside buildings to quench their thirst. If you have any leaks, drips, heavy condensation, or puddles full of water around your place, the ants will move in and take advantage of the free hydration.
3. Argentine Ants Exploit Easy Access
If Argentine ants have taken over your home, you’ve somehow provided them with easy access to your domain. Since the Argentine ant adores wet soil, rotting wood, and potted or wild plants, remove these temptations from around your foundation.
The following materials should be no less than one foot from direct contact with your home:
- Wood chips
- Bark mulch
- Compost heap
- Organic mulch
Install pea gravel, river rock, or a cement barrier next to your crawl space or foundation. The barrier will deter Argentine ants from burrowing under soil to reach your home’s interior. Caulk all cracks and crevices where the ants could make their way inside. Your pest control professional can show you where your home’s vulnerable spots are located.
4. You Haven’t Let the Pros Handle the Invaders
You won’t have much luck spraying the inside of your home yourself with pesticides. Argentine ants can live under soil where the sprays don’t reach. You may kill part of the colony, but more foragers will return to raid your pantry.
Spraying pesticides outdoors to control Argentine ants is not advised, either. The insecticides lose their potency after being exposed to the outdoors for a short time.
Bait stations are one of the most effective control methods used to eliminate Argentine ants from human structures. However, bait stations must be maintained to control Argentine ants. If the bait stations are allowed to dry up, the ants won’t be attracted to them.
Your pest-control company will monitor and adjust bait stations to eliminate and control Argentine ants, so you don’t have to maintain or touch the pesticides. Your pest control technician can offer additional proven methods to control Argentine ants and other invasive ant species.