The Argentine ant is a dark ant native to northern Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and southern Brazil. It is an invasive species that has been established in many Mediterranean climate areas, inadvertently introduced by humans to many places, including South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, Easter Island, Australia, Hawaii, Europe, and the United States.
The worker ants are about 3 millimetres (0.12 in) long and can easily squeeze through cracks and holes no more than 1 millimetre (0.039 in) in size. Queens are two to four times the length of workers. These ants will set up quarters in the ground, in cracks in concrete walls, in spaces between boards and timbers, even among belongings in human dwellings. In natural areas, they generally nest shallowly in loose leaf litter or beneath small stones, due to their poor ability to dig deeper nests. However, if a deeper nesting ant species abandons their nest, Argentine ant colonies will readily take over the space.
German entomologist Dr. Gustav L. Mayr identified the first specimens of Hypoclinea humilis in the vicinity of Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1866. This species was shortly transferred to the genus Iridomyrmex, and finally to Linepithema in the early 1990s.
The native range of Argentine ants is limited to around major waterways in the lowland areas of the Paraná River drainage; They have recently spread into parts of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The species has become established in at least 15 countries throughout the world, on six continents as well as many oceanic islands.
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