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Darwin Ants

Darwin ants are a common pest ant in New Zealand homes and gardens. They form large colonies in New Zealand conditions and can be a considerable nuisance pest when they entr homes.


Darwin Ants are small (2-3mm) dark brown ants that have become established in New Zealand as far south as Christchurch. They are pests of our homes, shops and other buildings but there is little evidence yet that they are a threat to New Zealand’s natural ecosystems. Darwin Ant distribution is rapidly expanding and they may form 'supercolonies' in a similar way to Argentine Ants; with many nests part of the same colony and workers from one nest moving freely from one to another; cooperating. Darwins ants rarely or never disperse in winged form; they more commonly spread by budding into new nests or transported in vehicles and items such as garden pots.

Darwin's Ant came to NZ from Darwin in Australia and has found the environment in NZ to its liking with few competing insects and predators. In NZ it forms much larger colonies than in its native Australia. It can be distinguished from a similar looking Argentine Ant by:

  • pungent smell when squashed
  • single file trails (Argentine ants will have a trail many ants wide like a 'motorway')


To get rid of Darwin ants follow these simple steps:

  • Search > Find the ant nest sites. In most cases ant nests will be in warm, dry sandy soil, often under a rock, paving stone, driveway etc. where the nest is kept dry. On warm days search for a stream of worker ants going back and forth into a hole in the ground. It may be possible to drop bread crumbs in their path and then watch the ants carry the crumbs back the nest. Do not treat this entrance with insecticide yet.
    Now carry out the Kiwicare 1-2-3 Bait-Barrier-Destroy program.
  1. Bait > Use many small amounts of NO Ants Gel Bait or NO Ants Liquid Bait where you see ants or have seen them in the past. If the gel is not being taken, try the liquid bait and vice versa. Workers feed on the bait and take it back to the nest to feed the queen(s) and larvae. ?Replenish the bait regularly until you see no more (or very few) insects feeding. Only then should you use spray insecticide to eradicate the nests and to act as a barrier to further infestation. Ants are very sensitive to strong chemicals. All dishes or containers used to hold bait should be rinsed well with clean water and dried before use.
  2. Stop them with barriers > NO Ants Barrier Spray , NO Bugs Super and NO Bugs Indoor surface sprays will kill ants that cross the treated surfaces but will also act as a barrier; many species of ant will avoid the treated surfaces if possible. It is best to think of sprays used in and around the home as barriers. Use PLANThealth Insect Hit Granules or LawnPro Lawnguard Granules around exteriors as a barrier.
  3. Deny them a nest site > Sprinkle NO Ants Ant Sand on nest entrances to destroy the nests. Also sprinkle them in flowerbeds, drives and gravel pathways in a ring around the home. When watered in it penetrates the soil killing nests and acting as a ‘curtain’ barrier. Brush NO Ants Ant Sand into the cracks and crevices in paving and driveways to kill nests and prevent ants using these nest entrances.


Identification is vitally important to control ants, as the methods must be tailored to the ant species involved. Incorrect control methods may only serve to exacerbate the problem as in spraying an Argentine ant colony with insecticide before carrying out baiting and using barriers to stop spread.

Because of the ‘hidden’ locations of nests, ants can be difficult to control. Nests can often be located outside, under slabs, tarmac or concrete, with little or no evidence of their presence. The entrance to a nest can be established by leaving some fine breadcrumbs where you see ants. One can then follow the ants as they carry the crumbs back to their nest. Treatment at the entrance alone is rarely successful and treatment of a nest site may encourage multi-queened colonies (Argentine and Darwin's) to disperse and spread infestation to surrounding sites.

Stick masking tape on delicate surfaces and then apply bait onto the masking tape. This protects the surface and allows easy removal.

Some ants 'farm' aphids and scale insects for sweet secretions and it worth treating your plants with suitable garden insecticides to control these sapsucking plant pests and deny the ants their food supply.

LawnPro Lawnguard Granules or PLANThealth Insect Hit Granules are useful in areas of garden where ants are a nuisance and as an additional barrier around a house or other building. The prills (granules) are sprinkled onto soil and gravel surfaces where ants are travelling and then watered in to take the insecticide deep into the soil, forming a curtain barrier.

More information on Argentine Ants and White Footed Ants.

The scientific name of Darwin Ants is Doleromyrma darwiniana.

Download the Kiwicare 1-2-3 Ant Control Programme Document for your future reference.

Adobe Acrobat Document1-2-3 Ant Control Programme Technical Sheet
Adobe Acrobat Document, 733 KB
Kiwicare 1-2-3 Ant Control Technical Sheet. All you need to learn how to get rid of pest ants and keep them out of your home.

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