[Note: I'm going to talk about how much I hate ants for about 2,000 words. I hope you're OK with that.]
If you live in Southern California, you're intimately familiar with the Argentine ant, and if you live in the world, you can probably guess the basics (it's a tiny, dark, bity, little bastard that is largely ant-like in mannerisms and appearance).
You see them absolutely everywhere -- all over the state, in the wild and in most apartments -- looking for food and water, hiding in your walls. Most of you probably don't think about ants every day, certainly not as a real threat. I'm here to rectify that. This is a warning.
You might be thinking, Hey, no big deal, I'll just step on them, like I do to other things that are smaller than me. They're just ants, like any other ants. But they're not. Argentine ants are special. Special and evil and powerful. They will wait for you to go to sleep, then climb on your face and bite you, (yes, that is a thing they do).They're coming for your family by way of your nightmares and they need to be stopped.
A lot of people will tell you not to mess with Argentine ants, because they assume, like all insects, AAs keep our delicate ecosystem in check in a variety of world-saving ways. But I won't say that, because I have a library card and my mother didn't drink while she was pregnant with me. While most insects are important to our ecosystem, Argentine ants are far from it. They're just awful bastards and they're worse than mosquitoes. As annoying and malaria-filled as mosquitoes are, we can't get rid of them all, because they provide food for fish, and they also eat up lots of nasty algae and bacteria. They belong in a circle-of-life kind of way, the way that everything belongs.
Except, that is, Argentine ants. As you probably guessed by their name, these buggers are from (and were supposed to stay in) Argentina. Despite that, they're all up in California's shit, as well as the shit of every other continent except Antarctica. They are, first and foremost, invaders, ranked among the 100 worst animal invaders of all time. They're not playing some important positive role in our ecosystem because they don't even belong here, they're just creating a blind trail of destruction and domination.
"Hi, I was exploring your thoughts earlier and I noticed that you're planning on destroying me. I wish you wouldn't think like that."
They used to be part of a functioning ecosystem back in Argentina. According to Elissa Suhr, a doctor in the field of FuckAntsForeverology, "In Argentina ... ant colonies span 10s of meters, are genetically diverse and highly aggressive towards one another, so population numbers never explode and they are no threat to other plants and animals." In Argentina, they were kept in check, like good little shithead bastards, but as soon as they travel out to Australia or California or England or any other damn place, their natural predators are gone and their population blows up. The ants realized that they weren't kings of their domain, so they decided to go find someplace where they could be, like a jaguar that trains itself to fly when it realizes it can't compete with lions for land dominance.
"Oh, wow, this is much easier."
Nature, as she often does, built in a set of checks and balances, but the ants weren't having it. They said, "Check and balance this" and grabbed their stupid ant genitals right in Nature's face.
It's not just that they're horrible invaders; they're actually destroying whole civilizations of other creatures. In Australia, they used their numbers and total machine-like dedication to hatred to displace most of the native ants that used to roam around the outback, some of which were 10 times larger than the Argentine ants.
Here in California, they're destroying the ecosystem. First, they invaded and either got rid of or assimilated all of the larger, native ants. Horned lizards used to feed on those big ants but, now that they're gone, the horned lizards are dying out and lizard population is down 50 percent in areas where Argentine ants thrive. The lizards simply can't live on a diet that involves Argentine ants. And all of the animals that depended on the horned lizards for survival? They're fucked too.
The ants invaded and caused a ripple effect of destruction. They're the only creatures on the planet benefiting from this destruction, and they reap these benefits as they continue to grow, covering over 500 miles of California. It's not just that they're annoying, and it's not just that they're invaders, but they're actually hurting the global ecosystem of the planet. Why do we not have a branch of the army dedicated to destroying these things?
Say what you want about poison, but it sure is good at killing things that eat it. Spraying poison is generally the preferred method of pest control and almost always successful, so it makes sense that you'd try it on these tiny, aggravating Argentine ants. Except, unlike most ants, the Argentine type don't die when you spray them with common pesticide. In fact, and I know this is hard to believe, they do the opposite of dying. They live even harder. According to a site that is dedicated solely to killing ants (I love you guys), spraying Argentine ants with pesticides causes them to lay more eggs. The ants are so amused by your futile attempts to destroy them that it's giving them little rock-hard ant boners. It's their way of saying, "You are impotent to destroy us, and we are anything but."
"Look, honey, a roach motel. Finally somewhere we can fuck in private."
As an added you'll-never-defeat-them bonus, while most species of ants have a single queen in a colony, Argentine ants have several. So if you thought taking out the head ant would solve your problems, you're wrong. Another queen will take its place, and then another and another. The ants have already thought of your clever plan. They're way ahead of you, metaphorically speaking, and all around you, literally speaking.