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IPM 25th2005 Annual Report

UC Statewide IPM Program

UC IPM Makes It Happen

Argentine antStudies can help stop the Argentine ant in its tracks

The most common ant found in and around the house and garden in California is the Argentine ant.

These ants are extremely well adapted to urban areas with mild climates and well-watered gardens. They are especially formidable due to their aggressive behavior and the enormous size of their colonies that can literally "team up" with other colonies. Argentine ants travel rapidly in distinctive trails along sidewalks, up sides of buildings, along branches of trees and shrubs, along baseboards, and under edges of carpets.

Peter Nonacs, UCLA Department of Organismic Biology, Ecology and Evolution, and entomologist John Klotz, UC Riverside, have conducted studies to help identify and predict patterns of Argentine ant infestations in UCLA campus buildings. They are studying infestation levels related to landscaping, light, temperature, pesticide application, nesting material, and food and water availability.

In hot, dry weather, ants often search homes for water, including in bathroom faucets and drains. Inside buildings, household ants feed on sugars, syrups, honey, fruit juice, fats, and meat. Outdoors they are attracted to honeydew, produced by mealybugs and aphids, because it contains sugars and other nutrients.

Researchers are trying to modify outdoor patterns of landscaping where infestations occur and are monitoring the effectiveness of non-pesticidal alternatives to reduce infestations. They will also identify indoor attributes that predict severe ant problems.

With these results, they will modify campus landscapes to reduce ant invasions. If effective, landscaping solutions could greatly reduce pesticide use for ant control. In the meantime, the UC IPM Program makes recommendations for the best strategies as currently known. See our Web site for ant advice.

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