2014-03-01 11:05:49 -
The Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (formerly Iridomyrmex humilis), is a dark ant native to northern Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and southern Brazil. It is an invasive species that has been established in many Mediterranean climate areas, including many places like South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, Easter Island, Australia, Hawaii, Europe, and the United States. These ants will set up quarters in the ground, in cracks in concrete walls, in spaces between boards and timbers, even among belongings in human dwellings. In natural areas, they generally nest shallowly in loose leaf litter or beneath small stones, due to their poor ability to dig deeper nests. They secrete hydrocarbon (Formic acid).
The worker ants are about 3 long and can easily squeeze through
cracks and holes no more than 1 millimeter in size. Queens are two to four times the length of workers. These ants will set up quarters in the ground, in cracks in concrete walls, in spaces between boards and timbers, even among belongings in human dwellings. In natural areas, they generally nest shallowly in loose leaf litter or beneath small stones, due to their poor ability to dig deeper nests. However, if a deeper nesting ant species abandons their nest, Argentine ant colonies will readily take over the space.
Argentine ants are now considered to be one of the world’s worst household pests. Argentine ants threaten native invertebrates wherever they invade. The ants are very aggressive and kill or drive away other insects. In South Africa and the USA, Argentine ants threaten endangered species that rely on native ants for food, pollination or seed dispersal. Argentine ants have also been reported to feed directly on fruit crops, and their sheer numbers can damage flowers and reduce fruit set. They are one of the worst pests of citrus in Australia, and a serious pest of viticulture, avocado and tomato crops. According to research, it was discovered that ants from three Argentine ant super colonies in America, Europe, and Japan.
In Europe, one vast colony of Argentine ants is thought to stretch for 6,000km (3,700miles) along the Mediterranean coast, while another in the US, known as the “Californian large”, extends over 900km (560miles) along the coast of California. A third huge colony exists on the west coast of Japan.
They are even known to make their way into microwaves, refrigerators and screw-top jars. Argentine ants are now considered to be one of the world's worst household pests. They are attracted by electrical currents and are known to have caused damage to air conditioners, heat pumps, telephone junction boxes, etc. When they become lodged or electrocuted between the contacts of relays; it damages the contacts and causes the equipment controlled by the relay to malfunction.
Many steps are taken to control Argentine ants’ infestation some are using insecticides, poison baiting. Control in homes and yards include sanitation (e.g. removal of food scraps), closing points of entry to homes, and removing landscaping features that promote favourable micro climates - especially excess water sources. Poison baiting is not successful and pollutes the ground water and soil. Chemicals used to control argentine ant’s infestation are harmful and toxic, when exposed cause toxic fumes and violate environment.
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