Pacific Pests, Pathogens and Weeds - Online edition

Pacific Pests, Pathogens, Weeds & Pesticides

Argentine ant (365)

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  • Worldwide distribution. In Australia, New Zealand, NOT Pacific island countries. Among 100 world's worse invasive species. Difficult to manage; aggressive, but does not sting, bite or spray formic acid. Favours disturbed areas, invades houses.
  • Nests on ground, rarely in buildings. Forms super-colonies. Food is mainly nectar and honeydew. Other insects taken to feed queens and brood.
  • Damage directly: loss of biodiversity - alters seed dispersal, pollination; indirectly by defending aphids, mealybugs, scales and whiteflies from natural enemies.
  • Tramp ant. Spread by 'budding' - queens and workers leave the colony; spread via international trade.
  • Biosecurity: requires risk assessments, regulations preventing introduction, protocols in case of breaches, and ability to make rapid response. Pacific Ant Prevention Plan available (IUCN/SSC Invasive Specialist Group).
  • Cultural control: hot water at 47°C kills ants; over 49°C kills plants.
  • Chemical control: use (i) stomach poisons (fipronil, Amdro®, borax), (ii) growth regulators (methoprene, pyriproxyfen), (iii) nerve poisons (bifenthrin, fipronil, imidacloprid). See (
Common Name

Argentine ant, sweet ant (in Argentina).

Scientific Name

Linepithema humile; previously, Iridomymex humilis.

AUTHOR Grahame Jackson
Information from CABI (2019) Linepithema humile (Argentine ant). Crop Protection Compendium. (; and Pacific Invasive Ant Toolkit. (; and AntWiki. (; and AntWeb. (; and from Linepithema humile (2018) Global Invasive Species Database. ( Photo 1 Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Photos 2-5 Simon Hinkley & Ken Walker (2006) Argentine ant (Linepithema humile). Museum of Victoria. PaDIL - (

Produced with support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research under project HORT/2016/185: Responding to emerging pest and disease threats to horticulture in the Pacific islands, implemented by the University of Queensland and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

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