Argentine Ants - The making of super colonies!

Follow Clark Pest Control

Subscribe to our blog

Your email:

Free quote

Free quotes, same-day and Saturday service available. Contact Clark Pest today.

About Clark Pest Control

Clark Pest Control has grown to be the West's largest pest management company with branch offices throughout California and in the Reno, Nevada area.

Clark Pest Control's Blog

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Argentine Ants - The making of super colonies!


By: Jackson Griffith
Clark Pest Control Corporate 


Super Colonies From San Diego to the San Francisco Bay

Imagine a giant, thriving city along the coastal half of California that stretches over 600 miles, linked by subterranean tunnels from San Diego in the south all the way to Ukiah 115 miles north of San Francisco, with a population of billions. A future scene from a dystopian science-fiction narrative?

No.  According to some scientists, that city exists today. However, it’s populated by ants, not humans – specifically, Argentine ants (Linepithema humile), an invasive species thought to have entered America at New Orleans on coffee ships from South America in the late 19th century. L. humile then spread westward to California via railroads and other modes of transportation.argentine ant

What makes Argentine ants different from most other ant species is that individual ants hatched from one queen’s eggs will cooperate with ants from another queen. Most ant species will fight ants from another colony, because each colony’s ants carry a unique chemical marker that signals they are family to ants from their own colony, but an enemy to same-species ants from a neighboring colony. However, Argentine ants from two different queens won’t have such conflict with each another, because their chemical markers are similar enough for a match, and so they and their sisters – worker ants are invariably female – will team up to drive out whatever native ant species is still crawling about the neighborhood.

These large cities of Argentine ants were described by a team led by biologist Neil D. Tsutsui, then at University of California San Diego, as supercolonies. Three have been identified: in coastal California, in Europe along the Mediterranean coast, and in western Honshu, the largest and most populous island of Japan. The former two have Mediterranean climates; western Honshu is subtropical. And even those are related: When researchers mixed ants from the different supercolonies together in a laboratory setting, they didn’t square off for battle, but got along like long-lost sisters.

Not all scientists agree with the concept of a supercolony, however. At Stanford University, researchers disagreed that the California supercolony is more diverse genetically, and ants around the state don’t seem to spring from a common set of parents; what appears to be a supercolony is really a large grid of interlinked colonies. In either scenario, though, the ants would rather cooperate against a common enemy than fight among themselves. We could learn a lot from Argentine ants.

In California, where one in every four ant infestations reported by pest management professionals involves Argentine ants, it means that if you’re experiencing an ant problem at home, there’s a 25-percent likelihood that L. humile is at cause. In many areas, that likelihood jumps to 100 percent. Your Clark professional will be able to identify the species of ant that’s giving you trouble, and then use the principles of integrated pest management (IPM) to restore your home to a pest-free state. 

Visit the Clark Pest Blog or visit to learn more.


Excellent article. Here in Oklahoma Ants are one of the most common household pests. We deal with ants regularly. Great post and keep up the excellent pest control services.
Posted @ Sunday, August 26, 2012 12:06 AM by Pest Control Broken Arrow
Interesting post on Argentine ants. They are really different from the others. However, it is always great to watch an ant colony. They work together to go on with their lives. But such innocent ant colonies are sometimes dangerous for us as they can make unthinkable damage with their combined effort. So it is important to control them around our home and garden.
Posted @ Sunday, September 02, 2012 7:01 AM by Pest Control Raleigh NC
Whatever or wherever they may be, I still find them all creepy and itchy. I admit that I am afraid of insects specially ants.
Posted @ Wednesday, September 05, 2012 6:05 AM by pest control pittsburgh
These are tricky little creepers but we've been getting rid of the super colonies all summer. If you need an expert...?!?!
Posted @ Thursday, September 06, 2012 11:57 AM by Pest Masters
Interesting article regarding super colonies of ants.  
Are there many species of ants that are like this or are Argentine ants are only among the few species of ants who cooperates with ants from a different colony?
Posted @ Sunday, September 23, 2012 9:34 AM by john
The key to getting rid of them is consistent treatment. The problem with some companies is that they have a hard time getting all the regular treatments in because of disorganization. Make sure your company has a good <a href=> pest control management software>
Posted @ Wednesday, October 03, 2012 4:23 PM by Scott
Comments have been closed for this article.