As their common name suggests, Argentine ants are native to Argentina and Brazil, but these ants have maintained an invasive habitat in the US since the late 19th century. Argentine ants were first documented in the US when specimens were collected from New Orleans in 1891, and since then, these ants have spread to most southern states and several northern states. Argentine ants are abundant household pests in more than 30 counties in southern and eastern Texas, as well as the panhandle.
Much like another invasive ant pest in Texas, the Tawny crazy ant, Argentine ants are relatively small at ⅛ of an inch in length, and they vary in color from light brown to dark brown. Argentine ants are largely hairless, and they possess distinct-looking heads which can only be viewed under magnification. In addition to their small size, which allows the ants to infest electronics, appliances and other indoor items, Argentine ants live in massive colonies that contain multiple queens. These colonies are usually located in soil, and they are frequently found beneath concrete slabs, wood and mulch. Argentine ant nests are also found in tree cavities, trash piles, bird nests and beehives, and they do not build noticeable nesting mounds in soil. While Argentine ants do not inflict stings, they are known for inflicting moderately painful bites.
When the weather becomes too cold for Argentine ants during the winter, the ants tunnel to greater depths beneath the ground where temperatures become progressively warmer. However, Argentine ants can remain active throughout the winter within manholes and basements where steam pipes provide the ants with warmth, and due to mild winter temperatures in San Antonio, the ants can continue to be an issue within homes in the city throughout the winter season. Argentine ants generally regain activity and grow rapidly in population size during the month of February, and their population numbers are highest during August, September and October.
Have you ever experienced infestation issues with Argentine ants?