Study: Argentine ants dependent on water

Mar 31, 2006

A University of California-San Diego study has shown water to be mainly responsible for Argentine ant invasions.

David Holway, an assistant professor of biology who conducted the study with graduate student Sean Menke, found Argentine ants in Southern California need wet soil to live and breed. So residents plagued by indoor infestations might find relief by shutting off or substantially limiting the use of outdoor irrigation.

The scientists say they were able within a matter of weeks to increase the abundance and encourage the spread of Argentine ants by irrigating normally dry land. Once irrigation ended and soil moisture declined, the researchers found, the number of ants returned to pre-irrigation levels.

"This is the first, definitive study that provides unambiguous experimental evidence that soil moisture can control invasions of Argentine ants," said Holway.

The dark-brown ants, are about 3 millimeters in length, are thought to have entered the United States aboard ships carrying coffee from Brazil during the 1890s, then expanded throughout California and the southern parts of the United States.

Holway and Menke report their research in the March 30 issue of the Journal of Animal Ecology.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Invasive tawny crazy ant found in Georgia

Sep 18, 2013

The tawny crazy ant has made its way into Georgia for the first time. University of Georgia Extension agent James Morgan in Dougherty County discovered the ant—which originates in South America—on Aug. ...

Argentine ant genome sheds light on a successful pest

Jan 31, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A research team led by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and San Francisco State University has unlocked the genetic code of the highly invasive Argentine ant, providing ...

Recommended for you

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Apr 19, 2014

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Clippers and coiners in 16th-century England

In 2017 a new £1 coin will appear in our pockets with a design extremely difficult to forge. In the mid-16th century, Elizabeth I's government came up with a series of measures to deter "divers evil persons" ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.