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Argentine Ants

Information on the Argentine ant, an invasive ant species which poses a risk to crops, exports and human health in Hawke's Bay.

Why are these a problem?

The Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) are an invasive ant species which pose a risk to crops, exports and human health. They are aggressively invasive and can quickly form super-colonies, pushing out native ant species. They invade buildings and can impact on our outdoor lifestyle. Argentine ant bites are not poisonous but can be irritating and cause allergic-type reactions in some people.

Description and background

Argentine ants are a uniform light brown or honey colour compared to the dark colours of more common ants. They measure 2-3 mm in length and the workers are all the same size. They travel in distinctive trails, moving over an object in their path rather than going around.

Argentine ants can spread naturally up to 150 m per year. However, the majority of infestations begin with people inadvertently transporting infested pot plants, firewood, soil, caravans, cars, freight etc to new locations.

The main impact on horticulture is the ability of Argentine ants to ‘farm’ sap-sucking aphids and scale insects, leading to a higher risk of disease transmission, reduction of crop yield and/or quality, disruption of biological control agents and an increase in spray regimes.

What is the Regional Council doing?

We provide an advisory service. 

Please contact our Argentine ant advisor on 06 833 8083.

What can you do?

  • Take care with moving equipment and materials from location to location so you don’t spread this pest.
  • Check caravans, campervans, cars, etc (particularly if they have been sitting in the same spot for a while) for ants before moving off site.
  • If moving house, check all your pot plants, vehicles, and any outdoor fixtures.
  • Before buying or taking firewood, compost, mulch or pot plants ensure they are free of Argentine ants
  • If you suspect you have an infestation, call our Argentine ant advisor on 06 833 8083.  You may need to bring in a sample for identification.

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