A website from UGA Cooperative Extension

We would like to thank Fulton County MGEV Della Spearman for this article on Argentine Ants.


     During the summer months, it seems small brown ants (Argentine ants) want to invade cracks and take over other areas of our homes but they can be controlled. Be aware, they do not sting like fire ants, but at times they carry viruses harmful to bees, emit an unpleasant smell when stepped on, and travel with an antenna in long trail lines. Most are unwelcome guests who often belong to large colonies wanting to escape the summer heat like individuals.  Many times, they seek open food sources. At times, Argentine ants are drawn in our homes to sugary products, dead insects, and other food items left on a counter or floor and will swarm the unprotected area within minutes.

     Accordingly, the Argentine ant ( Linepithema humile) is not only originally native to northern Argentina but the South American countries of southern Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Above all, the ant is best known as an invasive insect, taking the place of other native insects of certain particular areas, ruining existing plants, sometimes the land and infrastructure. Notwithstanding, Argentine ants are attracted to eat the honeydew sap on tree tops, backyard water, mulch, pine straw, potted plants and certain landscapes featuring rocks; and were noticed in 1890 via coffee ships in the United States in New Orleans and secondly, recorded in 1907 in California. Presently, Argentine ants can be found in Texas, Southern states and in certain coastal regions of California and have not been totally exterminated but can be controlled.


Argentine Ants, from UGA Extension Circular 926

     The Argentine ant is light to dark brown and is about 1/16 to 3/16th of an inch with an uneven thorax. In addition, the ant has a one-segmented petiole. Thus, the queen ant is slightly larger than the rest and is the only one of the colony, which can number from a few hundred to a few thousand, that can lay eggs. Still, there are three members of the population: the worker (female who is sterile), the male, and the queen.

     In truth, the fertilized eggs are namely, female ant workers,  – and the unfertilized eggs, are namely male ants.  The males and females comprise 90 percent of a colony and reach maturity during the Springtime (males are produced during this period) with the queens comprising 10 percent of a colony. Specifically, the queen ant lays eggs throughout the year, with the exception of the winter. The male ants do not live long after mating. During the winter, the ants live inside cozy constructions to escape the cold and are not known to forage deeply.


     Argentine ants can be controlled using an integrated pest control approach involving chemicals and non-chemicals. For example, homeowners can use a granular approach, spray, or slow-releasing bait to control Argentine ants. Furthermore, most treatments are more effective outdoors. However, the whole nest, with the worker carrying the bait back to the colony, needs to be eliminated for effective pest control and sometimes the colony is eliminated within seven days.

     Steps to prevent Argentine infestations outdoors at home include:

  1. Limit excess watering of your lawn and garden areas.
  2. Do not leave decaying plant manner or other ground cover for ants to live under.
  3. Use bait for indoor protection.
  4. Do keep both vegetation low and tree trim limbs away from close contact with a house’s structure.


      Most homeowners are advised to keep vegetation away from homes and buildings to prevent the ants from seeking openings inside. However, if the homeowner is unable to manage the ant population at their residence, they are advised to seek professional pest management services or call their local county extension office for further assistance. In reality, there are safe and organic ways to contain Argentine ants without them further damaging our environment.