Ants are one of the most common and annoying insect pests, invading our yards, sidewalks, parks, and homes. There are ants invading our lives every day of our lives. They seem to show up in our homes as long as they can find even the tiniest crumb of food. Argentine ants are one of the most common ant species that plague humans, and are a constant nuisance pest in Georgia. What’s worse, they tend to form massive colonies and can invade homes year round.
Argentine ants look like your basic ant you see everywhere, with light brown coloring and a size of only three-sixteenths of an inch in length. A single mature colony of Argentine ants can contain more than a million worker ants as well as hundreds of queens. These colonies are made up of multiple nesting sites, which each cover vast foraging areas that often encompass multiple properties. Argentine ants create well-organized foraging trails that other ants in the colony use to find feeding sites, the trails connecting different feeding sites with all of the various nests in addition to the closest one. This allows ants from different nests in one colony to access feeding sites located by worker ants from other nests, meaning the home being invaded has to deal with the entire, massive colony of ants, not just the nest closest to it or the one the marked the home as a feeding site. Foraging trails made by Argentine ants have been found in Georgia that exceed 350 feet in length.
Argentine ants aren’t just a pest during the warmer months, either, but will infest homes throughout the year. Warmer temperatures do help to promote and accelerate the growth of colonies, and, like most insects, Argentine ants prefer moist conditions, making dryer conditions force these ants to search for increasingly limited resources, particularly water. Infestation problems increase a good bit when the weather gets uncommonly dry and hot during the summers. During the colder months, Argentine ants seek out shelter to survive the drop in temperature. This is when they commonly move into people’s homes, settling in areas with stable conditions such as wall voids, where the environmental conditions remain more stable (no need to worry about snow storms inside our protected houses) and temperatures are warmer. Once spring arrives and the weather warms up, they return to their outdoor nests, where their population grows steadily throughout the warmer months, making infestations the following winter even bigger. Preventative measures such as keeping your home free of clutter and trash, as well as making sure the moisture levels in your home are not too high and dealing with leaky pipes and faucets, all of which can draw ants into your home, should be taken beginning in the spring and continued on through till winter.
Have you ever found a massive infestation of ants in your home in the winter?