Native to the Parana river drainage of South America, the small, brown Argentine ant Linepithema humile has spread to become a highly destructive invasive species around the world, forming super colonies especially in warm climates, island environments (for example, New Zealand) and areas where humans have caused environmental disturbances. These small (workers are 2-3 mm long) ants are easily spread accidentally in human transport of goods, and are successful due to their generalist and omnivorous habits. Argentine ant workers forage on nectar, as well as other insects, and effectively displace native species of ants. A significant part of the Argentine ant diet comes from the hemipteran, mealybugs, scale and aphid honeydew and the ants readily protect these insects to take advantage of this food source. Because of this mutalistic relationship, the Argentine ant has indirectly become a threat to crops, which are damaged by boosted pest populations. Although Argentine ants do not bite or sting or directly threaten humans, this highly mobile, gregarious and difficult to control species is tolerant of diverse conditions and food, posing a severe threat to the ecosystems and biodiversity of the countries it invades, and is considered among the worst 100 of the world’s invasive species.
(CABI 2011; Daugherty and Hung; Lowe, Browne and Boudjelas 2000; Wikipedia 2011)
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