Biological Invasions

, Volume 10, Issue 7, pp 1001–1011 | Cite as

Aggressive interactions between the introduced Argentine ant, Linepithema humile and the native odorous house ant, Tapinoma sessile

  • Grzegorz BuczkowskiEmail author
  • Gary W. Bennett
Original Paper


The Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) is an invasive species that disrupts the balance of natural ecosystems by displacing indigenous ant species throughout its introduced range. The mechanisms by which Argentine ants effectively compete against native ant species have been previously addressed in field studies that centered on interference and exploitation competition at baits and mainly examined the colony-level performance of Argentine ants. Detailed behavioral observations explaining the basis for the strong competitive ability of L. humile are comparatively rare. To gain a better understanding of the mechanisms by which Argentine ants displace native ants we examined the aggressive interactions between the Argentine ants and the odorous house ant, Tapinoma sessile in four different aggression assays: (1) worker dyad interactions, (2) symmetrical group interactions, (3) intruder introductions into an established resident colony, and (4) a resource competition assay which focused on competition for food and nesting space. Our results demonstrate a clear disparity between worker-level and colony-level fighting ability of Argentine ants and provide behavioral evidence to explain the superior interference ability of Argentine ants in group assays. Argentine ants experienced mixed success in fighting against odorous house ants in dyad interactions, but gradually gained a numerical advantage in symmetrical group interactions by active cooperation among nestmates. Results of the resource competition assay indicate that Argentine ants recruit rapidly, numerically dominate food and nesting sites, and aggressively displace T. sessile from baits. Taken together, the results of these assays allow us to pinpoint the behavioral mechanisms responsible for the remarkable competitive ability of Argentine ants.


Aggression assay Argentine ant Competition Invasive ants Linepithema humile Odorous house ant Tapinoma sessile 



We thank Jeffrey Holland and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript, C. Cummins for technical assistance, G. Fedorowicz for Argentine ants from California, J. Silverman for Argentine ants from North Carolina, and T. Clough for statistical advice. This study was supported in part by the Norm Ehmann Endowment Fund Award and the Industrial Affiliates Program at Purdue University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EntomologyPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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