Argentine Ants | The Global Super Colony

Argentine Ants | The Global Super Colony

Hi, my name’s Jordan Dean. In this video we’re going to be looking into
the lives of the exceedingly infamous Argentine Ants. Argentine Ants, known scientifically as Linepithema
humile, are native to parts of South America. But through human activity, they’ve now
established themselves all over the world and are considered to be one of the worst
invasive ant species out there. The ants are highly problematic to introduced
regions, as they can disrupt the fragile balance of the native ecosystems, and subsequently,
diminish their levels of biodiversity. They do so by displacing native animal populations. Taking them as prey, and or, out competing
them for resources. Many native ant species often fall victim
to these invaders. As the Argentine Ants prey upon insects commonly
eaten by these natives, and are often much faster in discovering them too, leaving little
to no food around for them to consume and develop their colonies. They’re also extremely hostile towards any
rival ants. Here you can see some Argentine Ants aggressively
fighting over this source of food, which was initially discovered by this native species
of Big-headed Ants…The native ants defend their find with everything they’ve got…But
in the end, their efforts are wasted, as the Argentine ants overwhelm them with their superior
numbers…So a source of food which was once feeding a native colony, is now promoting
the strength of these troublesome invaders… Argentine Ants are also known to invade the
nests of smaller ant colonies. Here, they’re raiding the nest of another
native species. so as to feed their ever growing colony. But why should it matter if one ant species
is replaced by another? Well, the weakening and eventual loss of these
native ant colonies, greatly impacts the ecology of the area. The natives are perfectly adapted to living
alongside and subsequently supporting the local plants, by cycling and enriching their
soil… dispersing and protecting their seeds… and sometimes, even aiding in their pollination
too. Once Argentine Ants replace these native ants,
all of a sudden, the seeds, once tended to by the former ants, are left untouched, as
the Argentine Ants have little to no interest in the seeds or favor the seeds of different
plants, like nonnatives and weeds. They also don’t dig very deep within the
ground like most ants do. Instead, they prefer to nest fairly close
to the grounds surface. This too negatively effects the surrounding
plant life, as they lose the assistance of having well cycled and enriched soil, which
the native ants readily provided. Argentine ants can even attack such animals
directly, overwhelming them with their immense Targeting birds and reptiles by invading their
nests and consuming the vulnerable young as they hatch. So what makes these Argentine Ants so successful
at dominating their surrounding environment? They aren’t overly large, only measuring
3-4mm in length, and don’t possess venomous stings like Fire Ants do, or have the ability
to spray acid like Yellow Crazy Ants. But instead, these ants possess some highly
advantageous abilities, and what they lack for in size and lethality, they greatly make
up for in numbers. Normally, when you have two separate ant colonies
come together, even those of the same species, they clash, sometimes, having to fight out
to the death in order to protect or expand their territory. The reasoning for this is because the foreign
ants have a different chemical profile to those of their own colony. Native colonies of Argentine Ants are no different. They form relatively small colonies which
are genetically diverse, each having its own unique scent. But the introduced Argentine Ants are unlike
those from their homeland. Because there has been little to no diversification,
they are genetically similar, and so, possess chemical profiles which are almost identical
from colony to colony. So ants from separate colonies, tens, hundreds,
even thousands of kilometers apart, rarely compete with one other. Instead, they cooperate. To demonstrate just how cooperative these
Argentine Ants can be, we’re going to be looking inside the nest of captive colony. Currently, the colony is only quite small,
with under 100 total individuals. But in a few moments, this colony is about
to triple in size. Inside this vile, I’ve got a bunch of ants
and brood which I’ve collected from a mature, foreign colony of Argentine Ants. So let’s see what happens when I expose
them to this young colony here… As soon as the lid’s taken off, they’re
away, scanning the surrounding area and surveying their options… Within a short while, they discover the foreign
nest, and shortly after, start picking up all their brood and moving them straight in
with theirs… In virtually all other species of ants, this
combination of two different colonies would result in complete chaos, and each group would
be fighting it out to the death. This cooperative merging together of colonies,
means these Argentine Ants are able to form colonies on a massive scale, spanning hundreds,
even thousands of kilometers. The ants are also polygynous too, meaning
they will accept more than one egg laying queen within their individual colonies. Notice these slightly larger ants here? These are actually all queen ants, and each
colony often has at least several of these queens present. Resulting in large batches of eggs being laid
and rapid growth of the ants’ population. They’re also incredibly adaptable when it
comes to their nesting environment. Typically, they nest beneath rocks and leaf litter… and in and underneath logs… and sometimes, even up within the trees. And they’re highly mobile too. Often up and moving their entire colonies
if the conditions aren’t favorable. After this captive colony’s recent spike
in population, they’re starting to look a little cramped within their little test
tube, and naturally, would be scouting around for a preferable nesting site. So what I’ve done here is attached up an
alternative space for them to explore, a small prototype formicarium we’ve been working
on here at Ants Australia. The new area is kept both humid and dark. Ideal living conditions for the colony. Almost as soon as it’s attached up, the
ants begin inspecting the new space… Once they deem it suitable, the message is spread
rapidly throughout the colony. And within moments, the ants start moving
on in, brood, queens and all… Before long, their old nest is completely
abandoned in favour of the new… Argentine Ants also use their speedy repositioning
skills for another important purpose, reproduction. Typically, when ants undergo their nuptial
flights, the winged reproductive ants, known as alates, fly off in search of foreign alates
to mate with. The newly mated queens will then shed their
wings, and search for a safe place to lay their eggs and form new colonies. Argentine Ants are a little strange, in that
the female alates have wings, but rarely ever use them. Instead, most of the mating actually occurs
within the ants’ nests. They’re able to spread in a process known
as “budding”. This is where ants branch off on foot, in
groups consisting of a single queen or more, along with a number of worker ants. Each group then relocates and establishes
themselves within new nesting sites. So the ants are effectively dividing and multiplying
their numbers, gradually expanding the territory of their species. A far less perilous method when compared to
the more common, nuptial flights. From appearance alone, Argentine Ants look
rather ordinary and insignificant. But withall their exceptional traits, like being able
to merge their colonies… Their tolerance of multiple queens… Their ability to occupy a
large variety of habitats… And their exceptional colony manoeuvrability… you can see just why
they are such a dominant species and are so effective at monopolizing their surrounding

100 thoughts on “Argentine Ants | The Global Super Colony”

  1. Prenolepis imparis is beating them up bad in California. I guess their defensive spray is especially toxic to Argentine ants.

  2. I have an idea to stop Argentine ants for you South Americans and Australians:
    1. Find a nest
    2. Flood the nest
    3. I know this will anger some of you but anyways, kidnap the queen and/or maybe crush it… (sorry)
    (You don't have to do this if you love these ants though…)

  3. Where did you get your colonies? I live in North America and I have read that Argentine ants do not have nuptial flights but rather mate inside their old colony. They take around 10 workers and relocate to another area. I would love to own this species of ant but have no idea where/when to get them.

  4. A really like how much effort you put into your videos 🙂 Hope you become just as well known as Ants Canada.

  5. Did you know that winter ants have some kind of repellent that they spray onto the argentine ants that stuns and sometimes kills them? They have been flourishing in the areas where they live.

  6. i saw some pavement ants raid a Argentine ant colony. I feed the Argentine ants a egg roll but a big head ants colony found the egg roll too. then a pavement ant

  7. If the Argentine Ant queens only mate with males from the same colony, doesn't this inbreeding have negative consequences or will have them at some point? I can't imagine it's good for their long term health……

  8. great explanation,  but how do I get a red fire ant Queen , and produce more queens in captivity , I am a dog detection trainer ,  I am interested in the odor's,  of the imported red fire ants,  I than trade this pest off for a bounty in Australia .  Australia has spend 400 million trying to control this pest ,  than sell it to the highest bidder ,  as this now becomes a commodity ,  the refugees in manis island would like to trade its GPS positions off for a legal entry visa to Australia  , they write me out a promissory note for $5 milion dollars , from there 70 million dollars compensation case , anyone interested finding the RFA ant may contact me .

  9. i got a huge colony of these that live near my outside trash can over a few months they killed every fire ant colony in my yard and i just see swarms of them when they find food

  10. What if you genetically modified a bunch of different ant species and made them seem genetically identical and put a bunch of their queens together, how fats would the colony grow and how many different ants would you see?

  11. What ant is at 4:34? They look similar to an ant colony I have in my backyard, workers are about 4 mm, trying to ID them. They live in a crack in the pavement

  12. Excuse me would you recommend a 11 and a half year old to start raising a Argentine colony because I have a natural colony in my backyard. I was just wondering

  13. what happens to the argentine ants if their nesting site is too small for them, and also what happens if the resources are too little?

  14. They will really set up anywhere. I once found a new little colony setting up underneath a speaker in my living room. The area under the speaker is less than half an A4 sheet. I found the queen and captured her and a few ants and some brood and tried to set up my first ant farm, but they left after a day or two when I accidentally let the water barrier dry up. (I only had this pretty ordinary kids ant farm from when I was kid, and the ventilation holes were too big for the Argentine ants so I used a water mote to keep them in. I didn't know what I was doing.)

  15. I have a colony with at least 5 queens ( what I've counted ) do you think when it's nuptial flight season the queens will make more queens and kings?

  16. I poured water down an argentine ant nest and the all came rushing out with brood and queens. I slaughtered them with a can of chemicals

  17. Very very good, we have problems with these ants and found that if we pressure wash the house in powerful soap it helps keep them OUT of the house. Thanks for sharing! Well explained.

  18. I have a question: if part of the reason for Argentine Ants' success is that they cooperate with others of the same species, why isn't this trait more common with other ant species?

    I love your videos! Keep up the great work! 🙂

  19. I saw a pheidole ant colony swarm into a like a huge supercolony and the majors were soon bringing out dead bodies and brood and in fact even several dead queens. Invasive species vs Invasive species , Invasive species win.

  20. Once established it sounds like the solution is to import other colonies from S.America that dont share the same pheremone signature and then reduce their impact by competeing with each other.

  21. Incredibly interesting 🙂
    Your presentation achieves a very high level of captive interest and educational value with your choices of ambient music & tempos. Amazing. Makes me so happy when people get it right. Well done 😉

  22. I remember as a kid (in Australia) you would actually get money if you found a nest or a congregation of Argentine ants. Kids would spend a few hours after school searching for any, report through to the special 'hot line' specifically set up for this purpose. I remember some kids boasting about how much money they'd made 😂

  23. Would it make sense to bring in a whole bunch of new queens from their native range and introduce them into the range they have taken over in the US? Then there would be more diversity and they would fight with each other instead of forming a supercolony, right?

  24. I have a question: since these non-native Argentine ants cooperation is so effective, why didn't this behaviour occur naturally through evolution with other ant species?

    Great video; love all your work 🙂

  25. Very good video about these fantastic creatures. They are very dominant here where I live in Alabama,USA and I even remember when Fire Ant beds were very common..they are very rare now. Since the Argentines marched in it really has changed the varieties of insects we used to see here unfortunately. Having said that however I am fascinated in watching how they organize themselves ( it's therapeutic to watch) into ant highways when they discover food…they remind me very much of how humans in a large society's no wonder they thrive everywhere they are!

  26. Lmao I’m from California and thought these guys were native. They are pretty much the most common ants I would see. At least they don’t sting like red ants. I didn’t realize they were invasive! Haha

  27. 7:21 three queen argentina ants that are not really very happy about the merging… Probably guessing their own imminent execution… It was better for them when the test tube was isolated. Not perfect, as their life span is shorter than any other queen ant species, but still having some time… But now the new "friends" are going to judge them and probably kill them as there are going to be more effective queens in the supernest. But whatever queen they are, worker ants decided the merging. Not consulting them. Poor rich queens 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *