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Argentine Ant

Article author: Bradleigh S. Vinson
Most recently reviewed by: Pat Porter (2018)

Common Name(s): Argentine Ant

Description

Workers are one size, about 1/8 inch and light to dark brown. The waist (pedicel) has one node. The tip of the gaster lacks a circle of hairs. They may emit a stale greasy or musty odor when crushed. These ants do not have a stinger.

Origin and Distribution

The Argentine ant is an introduced exotic species that occurs in the United States and is widely distributed.   In areas where it is present it is often found in high densities.

This ant does not pose a medical threat because they do not have a stinger, but they are a threat to native biodiversity. Because of their common high nest density and large colony size, they are a major nuisance pest that very difficult to control.

Habitat & Hosts

Argentine ants are often seen in dense foraging trails. They frequently invade homes. They neither bite nor sting. They are cavity nesters in exposed soil or sometime inside houses, under cover or in rotten wood and can nest in lawns and plant beds.  Their colony size is in the hundreds or thousands of individuals.  Argentine ants have polygyne (multiple queen) colonies and both queens and workers freely move between mounds. This mixing of individuals leaves all the mounds genetically homogenous and thus making the entire population resemble one giant colony. These “supercolonies” may extend for many miles in diameter. They are omnivorous and attracted to sweets and animal fat.

Life Cycle

Egg, larva, pupa and adult.

Management

If you live in the State of Texas, contact your local county agent or entomologist for management information. If you live outside of Texas, contact your local extension for management options.

They usually nest near a moisture source. Indoors they are found near water pipes, sinks, potted plants and water leaks. Outdoors they are found in moist areas under logs, boards, stones, concrete slabs, debris, mulch, leaves and pine straw. Workers follow trails when foraging. They commonly tend honeydew-producing insects (e.g., aphids). Sweets are the favored food, but they will feed on most any food source.

Related Publications

Identifying Household Ants. Mike Merchant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

Managing Household Ant Pests.

Bugwood Images

Cat fleas

Article author: Mike Merchant
Most recently reviewed by: Janet Hurley & Pat Porter (2018)

Common Name(s): cat flea

Description

adult cat flea side view

Adult cat fleas are flattened and have strong jumping legs. (Photo by Mike Merchant)

Look for small (1/8 inch-long), wingless insects in the fur of dogs and cats. Adult fleas are brown to black in color, with strong jumping legs. Adult cat fleas feed on dogs, cats, and a variety of furred animals. People may be bitten by fleas, especially when populations are high, but fleas will not live and reproduce on humans. Flea larvae are small, rarely seen, legless larvae that live in carpeting, furniture, cracks in the floor, pet beds, and outdoors around pet sleeping and loafing areas.

Habitat & Hosts

Despite its name, cat fleas feed on a variety of hosts including dogs, people, cattle, opossums, raccoons, rats, etc.  Cat fleas require animal blood meals for successful reproduction.  Surprisingly human blood does not provide the right nutrition for cat fleas to survive, though they certainly bite humans.  The presence of cat fleas in a home or yard without pets usually implies that wildlife (possums, squirrels, raccoons) or feral/free range dogs are cats are living in close proximity.  

 

Life Cycle

flea larva

Flea larvae are small and legless, and rarely seen even by pet owners. They live in the bedding and around loafing areas of infested pets.

Fleas generally spend their adult life attached to one furry host. While feeding, female fleas lay eggs which fall off the animal and onto carpeted floors, furniture, grass and soil.  Flea larvae feed on dried blood that has also fallen off the host.  For this reason the most heavily flea infested areas of a home are places where pets like to hang out and sleep.

 

 

Management

If you live in the State of Texas, contact your local county agent or entomologist for management information. If you live outside of Texas, contact your local extension for management options.

Infested pets should be treated immediately. Some of the newer on-animal treatments are generally effective and eliminate the need for sprays applied to house or yard, especially if applied before a serious problem develops.  For more information about fleas and flea control, see http://citybugs.tamu.edu/factsheets/biting-stinging/others/ent-3001/

Related Publications

Safer Flea Control

Bugwood Images

The Texas Two-Step Method: Do-It-Yourself Fire Ant Control for Homes and Neighborhoods

Two-lined spittlebug


Common Name(s): Two-Lined Spittlebug

Description

Adults are like leafhoppers but appear much wider, about 3/8 inch long, dark brown to black and have two brilliant red-orange lines traversing the forewings, which are held over the back of the body. Immatures residing within masses of spittle are but are smaller, wingless, with white, yellow or orange bodies and brown heads and red eyes. There are several other spittlebug species common in Texas.

Habitat & Hosts

These spittlebugs feed on many plants, including grasses, ornamental plants, some crops and weeds. Immatures can be teased out from their frothy spittle masses. Adults move about Most noticeable when immature stages, feeding on host plant, produce masses of frothy spittle that encircle the twigs and young leaves; medically harmless. readily often in tall weeds or grassy areas.

Most noticeable when immature stages, feeding on host plant, produce masses of frothy spittle that encircle the twigs and young leaves; medically harmless.

Life Cycle

Winter is spent in the egg stage that hatches in the spring. Nymphs produce the spittle mass to prevent them from drying out, and develop through four stages (instars) within about one month. Eggs hatch in about 2 weeks. Two generations can occur per year.