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Hey, you're in the home improvement zone--YOUR HANDYMAN ZONE!

Bug Control / Insect Control / Pest Control Category: Ants

Improvement Project:

How to get rid of Argentine ants and prevent their infestation.

Tools / Materials (See Below for Applicability):

Guide:

To effectively get rid of Argentine ants and prevent any future encounter with them in or around your house, you'll need to know a little about them, and such pertinent information follows:

Physical Description:

Argentine ants range from 1/12 to 1/8 of an inch in length. The worker ants have no wings.  They generally have segmented bodies with elbow-bent antennas and are primarily colored light brown to dark brown. They have one erect node located above the abdomen.  When severed into pieces or otherwise dismembered, the ant releases a musky odor.

Diet:

Argentine ants, compared to other similar small-sized ants, most favor eating sweet foods over foods that contain protein.  Such sweet foods include juice-filled fruits and plant secretions.  In addition, they eat other insects, including ants that larger than them, and even cockroaches, among other insects.

Habit:

Mostly found in the southern part of the United States, including particularly the State of California, Argentine ants are relatively much more aggressive than other ants, being capable of destroying other ants that are much larger than them, and ants that are otherwise native to the areas to which they migrate.

Argentine ants are known to search for food day and night.

Argentine ants are relatively more adaptable to adverse weather than other ants, often surviving environments that other ants would not be able to do so.

They live in nests (also known as "galleries") that are located in a variety of locations that are virtually always moist and near sources of food, and they include the following:  near building foundations; near plants; and around sidewalks.  In instances of extreme weather (i.e., extremely hot, dry conditions and otherwise extremely wet conditions), such ants will forage in houses; however, they tend to leave the interior of houses as soon as they are done foraging.  You will almost never find them nesting in a crevice of a wall.

Control treatment: (1) Store Product for Barrier Approach:

 

Chemical-free approach.  You can buy a very simple, chemical-free, sticky-barrier product called Tanglefoot, which is specifically designed to stop insects, like ants, in their tracks while in contact with such a sticky compound.

For specifically attempting to effectively control and eliminate Argentine ants from your property, you'll want to avoid buying residual insecticide spray products, as such are way too fast-acting to the extent, if anything, foraging ants that have had contact with the insecticide will die off without being given the chance to lethally infect the whole ant colony.  In this light, you want to buy and apply insecticide products in the form of a non-liquid application, which are commonly referred to as gel-bait products. These bait products are designed to slowly act so that enough time is given for infected foraging ants to go back to the colony to infect the remaining population and then quickly kill them all off, within a matter of days.  Otherwise, insecticide spray products, when applied, will kill the foraging ants and cause the ant colony to break apart into other defined populations as a result of the sudden residual insecticide effects.  Examples of such gel-bait products include the Maxforce Ant Bait Gel, Optigard Ant Bait Gel, and Intice Smart Ant Gel; depending on product specifications, a gel-bait product may also be used inside your house.

Gel-bait products are the preferred method of controlling Argentine ants, as indicated above.  If you must use an insecticide spray, you should select one that is a non-repellent type, which is an insecticide that ants will not detect--either by taste or smell--until they have been infected with it and die as a result of it.  An example of such a non-repellent insecticide spray is Phantom, which targets not only ants, but also cockroaches, and can be applied outside and inside a house.

Once applied, these products will offer their insecticide protection for a limited time before their effectiveness wears off and, consequently, another application is required.

Caution: Of course, when dealing with insecticide products, make sure you take precautions; read all product manufacturer instructions. 

Prevention:

Moisture-free.  Your best measure of preventing Argentine ants from invading your house is to rid your house of any moisture that may be accessible to such ants.  They are attracted to moist soil, so, if you can, do not add to mother nature's rain that wets your building's surrounding soil with a water-running garden hose.

Porous-free.  Make sure that your house is as sealed as can be, and this includes doing the following:  Using a caulking gun, cocked with a caulking tube of the appropriate caulking, seal all porous openings to your house, such as foundation cracks, window crevices, wall crevices in general, and particularly the crevices surrounding the utility lines that enter your house walls.

The above information should prove to be useful in attempting to learn how to effectively get rid of Argentine ants and prevent any future encounter with them in or around your house.

Ed the Handyman

            &

Your Handyman Zone Team

 

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