How to Get Rid of Argentine Ants | Tips for Homeowners

Argentine ants, originally from South America, are a globally known pest due to their transportation by human activity. They often infest homes and other buildings in search of food and water. If you find Argentine ants in your home, it’s important to act fast to get rid of them as they reproduce rapidly, with multiple queens per colony.

To eliminate Argentine ants, remove their food and water sources, locate and remove the nests, and use bait stations containing a slow-acting poison. Using insecticides such as boric acid around your home’s perimeter will prevent re-infestation. Avoid using harmful insecticides, and be patient, as it may take several weeks to eliminate the colony. Additionally, taking a multifaceted approach can eliminate Argentine ants and prevent future infestations.

It’s essential to take Argentine ants seriously as they are attracted to waste and decaying matter, which can spread dangerous bacteria over your food and cause serious health problems. In the following sections, we provide a step-by-step guide on how to get rid of them and important information on identifying them and other ant species.

Argentine Ants Identification: Information and Facts

• What Are Argentine Ants?

Argentine ants are an invasive ant species native to several countries in South America.  They are known for their adaptability and very large colonies, which can now be found on several continents. They are average in size and appearance compared to other ant species and are light to dark brown.

• Where Do They Live?

Today, Argentine ants can be found in Australia, Europe, Africa, North America, Hawaii, and New Zealand. They prefer warm, wet climates. If they reach the inside of your home, they will be attracted to moist areas such as sinks, house plants, and leaky pipes.

• How Long do They Live?

Argentine ants can live a relatively long time compared to other ant species. Under the right conditions, Argentine ant workers can live up to one year, and their queens can live several years longer. That’s significantly longer than some other ant species workers, who, depending on their role in the colony, may only survive for a matter of weeks.

Related: How Long Do Ants Live | Ant Lifespan: Information and Facts

• Life Cycle

Argentine ant eggs hatch after about 28 days. After hatching, it takes approximately 75 days for the larvae to mature fully. Queens of argentine ants only need to mate one time to continue laying eggs for the rest of their lifespan.

• What Do They Eat?

Argentine ants are mostly attracted to sweet, plant-based foods. They will also eat “honeydew,” sweet liquid aphids produce. Although Argentine ants prefer sweet substances over anything else, they will also eat oily foods.

Related: What Do Ants Eat? | Ant Feeding Habits

• Do Argentine Ants Bite?

While not aggressive, Argentine ants will bite if they feel threatened.  Unlike many other ant species, Argentine ants do not have a stinger on their thorax.

• Argentine Ant Size

Argentine ants are approximately 2.2 to 2.8 mm (0.0866142 – 0.110236 inches) long, which is average-sized in the ant world. The queens are about 6mm long, which is small compared to the queens of other ant species.

Related: Ant Size Chart and Comparison: Information and Facts

How to Get Rid of Argentine Ants – Step-by-Step Instructions

How to Get Rid of Argentine Ants
Ant Exterminators

So, how to get rid of Argentine ants? Follow these steps to remove the Argentine ants from your home and prevent them from returning.

Step 1 – Identify the Root of the Problem

If you are dealing with an Argentine ant infestation, you can be certain that they’ve found a source of food and/or water in your home. First, check all of the food stored in your house.  This includes opened packages and sealed food that may have damaged packaging. 

After you’re sure that the food in your home is sealed up and secure, check for any water sources. Something as simple as a leaky pipe or water in the base of a potted plant could be enough to attract Argentine ants to your home.

Step 2 – Wipe Down All Surfaces in Your Home and Take out the Garbage

Leftover crumbs or sticky remnants of spilled juice will be enough to catch the attention of Argentine ants. Leftover food in trash cans is also a food source for these insects. Use a 50% water and 50% vinegar solution to wipe down all surfaces in your home, including floors and trash cans. The water and vinegar solution will erase the argentine ant’s chemical trails (called pheromone trails) which they use to lead other ants to food sources.

Note: Some surfaces, such as stone and hardwood floors, should not be cleaned with vinegar. In this case, use a specialized cleaner made for that surface. 

Step 3 – Set up Ant Baits

When it comes to battling an Argentine ant infestation, ant baits are the most effective method available. Ant baits contain an ingredient that is mostly harmless to humans but deadly to ants. The ants will carry the pieces of bait back to their nest, believing it to be the food for the colony. The bait is then shared with the rest of the colony, and when ants and their queens consume the bait, it will eventually destroy the whole colony.

How to Kill Argentine Ants? | Best Ant Killer Products

Here are some of the best products available that can be used for argentine ant infestation.

Best Ant Baits for Argentine Ants

TERRO T300B Liquid Ant Killer, 12 Bait Stations
  • Attracts & Kills – Kills common household ants including...
  • Kills the Ants You See & the Ones You Don't – As worker ants...
  • Works Fast – You should see a significant decrease in the...
  • Ready to Use – Place the bait stations, watch it attract ants,...
  • Use Throughout Your Home – Place stations near areas where...
Raid Ant Killer Baits, For Household Use, Child Resistant, 8 Count
  • Kills ants where they hide for up to 3 months
  • After ants feed on the bait, they return to the colony and...
  • For maximum effectiveness place all baits at the same time
  • Use indoors in corners, along walls and near entry points to kill...
  • For household use: closets, basements, attics, recreation rooms,...
TERRO T1804-6 Outdoor Ready-to-Use Liquid Ant Bait Killer and Trap - Kills Common Household Ants - 4 Bait Stations
  • Attracts & Kills – Kills common household ants including...
  • Kills the Ants You See & the Ones You Don't – As worker ants...
  • Works Fast – You should see a significant decrease in the...
  • Ready to Use – Place the bait stations, push down and twist the...
  • For Outdoor Use – Place the bait stations in outdoor areas...

DIY Ant Bait | Argentine Ants Boric Acid

You can make your ant bait using boric acid. This fine powder of boric acid can be easily mixed with jelly, honey, or peanut butter. Use one teaspoon of boric acid per cup of food. Place the mixture in a container with holes and place it where you found Argentine ants in your home. For safety reasons, ensure the container is marked as ant bait.

These homemade ant baits work in the same way as the bait you buy at the store. Ants will bring the food and the poisonous boric acid back to their nests to share with the colony. Eventually, the entire colony will be killed.

How to Get Rid of Argentine Ants Naturally

If you prefer a more natural route, there are plenty of alternative ways to deal with an ant infestation. Here are a few things you can try:

• Spices

If you have cinnamon or mint in your home, you already have a natural ant deterrent!  Sprinkle cinnamon around the areas where you’ve found Argentine ant trails, or bundle mint leaves together and leave them in areas where you’ve seen ants entering your home.

• Dish Soap and Water

Mix one-part dish soap with three parts water. Use a spray bottle to spray the solution directly on the Argentine ants. The mixture will cling to the ants’ exoskeletons, causing suffocation.

• Baby Powder or Chalk

Baby powder and chalk are known to deter ants. It is unclear why ants will do anything to avoid these products. Sprinkle the baby powder around entry areas of your home or draw chalk lines on hard surfaces that you don’t want ants to cross.

• Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is an all-natural product made from the fossils of sea algae and other tiny sea organisms. It kills ants by contacting their exoskeletons and drying them out. Diatomaceous earth can be found at most home improvement and gardening stores.

Related: Best Natural Ant Sprays | Kids and Pet-Friendly Sprays

Argentine Ant Bite Treatment

While the argentine ant’s bite is not poisonous or dangerous, its bite could lead to complications like infection or anaphylactic shock. To prevent infection, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water, and use a spray disinfectant if possible. 

Keep the area clean during the healing process, and avoid scratching. Scratching creates tears in the skin and transfers harmful bacteria from your fingers into the wound, leading to infection.  

If you believe your ant bite is infected, see your doctor. It’s also important to be aware of the signs of anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock is a rare but serious condition that insect bites can trigger. Signs include swelling of the tongue, lips, or throat, tingling hands or feet, and difficulty breathing. If you observe any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Argentine Ant Facts

Argentine ants may look similar to other ant species, but several interesting things make them stand out.

• Remarkable Argentine Ant Queens

Argentine ant queens are unique in several ways. Argentine ant colonies contain the highest queen-to-worker ratio of all ant species. The queens are also mobile, allowing them to do more than lay eggs. 

They are known to feed their own young. In other ant species, this task is left exclusively to worker ants. Such mobile queens allow the argentine ants to move their entire colonies when threatened quickly.

• Super Colonies

Argentine ants are responsible for building the largest ant colony ever discovered by man. In 2000, a colony was discovered in southern Europe stretching for 3,700 miles.

• Strange Odor

When Argentine ants are crushed, they let off a musty smell. Only one other species of ant, the odorous house ant, lets off a similar smell when crushed.

• Peacemakers

Although argentine ants make up some of the biggest colonies in the world, they are not as aggressive as other ant species. Most ant colonies, even those of the same species, will go to war with each other over territory. However, this is extremely rare for Argentine ants. When they encounter another Argentine ant colony, they commonly integrate the foreign colony into their own simply.

If you think you can’t handle your ant infestation, please call professional ant exterminators, as they will solve your problem within a day or two. For more pest-related content, please keep following our site!

List of Sources

Cooling, M., Hartley, S., Sim, D. A., & Lester, P. J. (2012), The widespread collapse of an invasive species: Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) in New Zealand, Centre for Biodiversity and Restoration Ecology, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Suhr, E. L., O’Dowd, D. J., McKechnie, S. W., & Mackay, D. A. (2011), Genetic structure, behaviour and invasion history of the Argentine ant supercolony in Australia, Evolutionary applications, Australia

Silverman J., Brightwell R.J., The Argentine ant: challenges in managing an invasive unicolonial pest, Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University

Giraud, T., Pedersen, J. S., & Keller, L. (2002), Evolution of supercolonies: the Argentine ants of southern Europe, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Daugherty M., Hung K., Argentine Ant (Linepithema humile), Center for Invasive Species Research, University of California Riverside

Argentine ant – Linepithema humile, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California

The Invasion of the Argentine Ants, University of California, Santa Barbara