Brachymyrmex patagonicus, more commonly known as the “dark rover ant,” is an invasive insect pest that is native to South America. This species was first discovered in the US when colonies were recovered in Louisiana in 1976, and since then, dark rover ants have expanded their invasive habitat into the Gulf Coast states, as well as certain urban areas in the southwest. Dark rover ants have become increasingly problematic in suburban and urban areas in and around Houston in recent years, as their populations are growing rapidly along the Gulf Coast. Numerous entomologists agree that area-wide control programs should be enacted at the state level to curb the spread of dark rover ants into new areas. Due to the dark rover ant’s recent introduction into the US, pest control professionals in the country are unsure as to how these pests are best controlled. In fact, pest control services across the Gulf Coast are struggling to effectively eliminate dark rover ant infestations, and the rate at which these ants are infesting structures has been increasing dramatically. During 2005 and 2006, Mississippi extension offices received more public inquiries about dark rover ants than any other ant species.
In the natural environment, dark rover ant colonies nest in the soil at the base of trees, beneath wood piles, leaf litter and garbage heaps. These ants are capable of nesting within a variety of environments including homes, and they favor urban and suburban environments, but they generally establish nests in moist conditions. In residential yards, dark rover ants commonly nest below garden mulch near foundations due to the moisture present and the quick and easy access foraging workers have to indoor foods. In addition to workers foraging and nesting within homes, dark rover ant swarmers (alates) are well known for flying into homes where they pose a considerable nuisance. In order to prevent dark rover ants from invading a home, indoor and outdoor moisture should be controlled, grass should be kept well groomed, lawns should not be excessively irrigated, and vegetation around foundations should be minimal and regularly trimmed. Dark rover ants are excessively small at only 1-2 mm in length and they are brown in color.
Have you ever struggled to control small ants in your home?