I'll be attempting at introducing native ants again. All this is in Southern California, and an area dominated by Argentine ants. Maybe not the best time of year, but this time of year (and into early Spring) have been my best attempts at re-introducing native ants to the area. Not the best weather, but once Spring and Summer comes...the ants have a much bigger advantage than if I introduce them later in the year. This was true for Tapinoma sessile and Monomorium ergatogyna. The overall goal is to have Pogonomyrmex, Formica or Myrmecocystus (or all three) naturally come to the area and make nests. Formica and Myrmecocystus aren't likely, but once every 3-5 years I see a Pogonomyrmex colony appear nearby. They never last long, though.
I introduced Tapinoma sessile about 6 years ago. In 3 years they got to over ten million ants, but since Argentine ants can beat them 1 to 3...they didn't stand much of a chance. T. sessile are horrible fighters, and mostly just run away. 2-3 years ago, they got completely wiped out. 2-3 years ago I successfully introduced Monomorium ergatogyna. One (small) Monomorium colony got taken over by Brachymyrmex (new as of this year), but a much bigger colony (over 100,000) has been successful. They kill and even have taken over Argentine ant nests. While the area is still dominated by Argentine ants, there is quite a bit less of them. Other ants are Cardiocondyla mauriticana. There is a colony of over 5,000 of them that is very successful. They have lots of colonies spread out. In the Spring/Summer, they completely remove Argentine ants from a 50 or so foot area. It is the largest colony I've seen of them. There is Brachymyrmex as I mentioned. Two colonies of them as far as I know, but they aren't an aggressive ant. I doubt they'll have much of an impact on Argentine ants, but we'll see next year.
So...I wasn't going to attempt an ant area again. I thought we were going to be moving, so there wouldn't be much of a point in it. However, we'll be staying here for at least through next year. Plenty of time to have an ant area. The area I have found is what I should have used ages ago. Barely any Argentine ants in the surrounding area (one colony of 100 or less is in this area), and a lot of open/drier areas (it gets hit by the sun the most). The area is a medium sized plant area, surrouned by a road/parking places/unattached garages and a dumpster area. Across the road (a concrete slab is half of it) is more areas for ants to expand to...and there is 0 Argentine ants in three directions. The 4th direction (I'll call it north) has the most Argentine ants, but only 1000 or less as far as I've seen. Maybe not even 500. It is also a very shaded, damp area and gets little sun.
The ants I definitely know I'll be introducing are: Forelius pruinosus/mccooki (I believe them to be the former)...and...that is it to be honest. They win 90% of their fights against Argentine ants, and will be the one of the best native ant to introduce. Since it is Winter (none of the ants I will introduce hibernate locally...active year round...) ...I'll have to time their release on a week that is mostly sunny. Or at the very least, no rain in the forecast for 7 days. I do hope to introduce Solenopsis xyloni, which will do amazing in this area. I have noticed Solenopsis xyloni dominate areas like the one I will start my ant area in. The Argentine ants have a very hard time taking over an ant species that is fortified in a "secluded" area, that isn't attached to the "mainland".
I will also be introducing Camponotus hyatti, which are most active in Winter/Spring (especially after rains) and are barely active in the drier months. However, since this is an urban area...they will probably remain active year round. They are bee-sized ants, and they will mostly be introduced for aesthetics factor, than going up against Argentine ants. I will probably also not get a queen, and just a bunch of workers, majors and alates. Last year, I found over 50 alates of them (it was January). I kind of hoped they would fly land come back to make a nest, but I chose a bad area to introduce them in. Another possibility is to introduce Dorymyrmex insanus...not big colonies...but are an interesting ant. Or Dorymyrmex bicolor, which get really big colonies. This I probably won't do, as they'll conflict with the Forelius...but it is an option. There is of course a lot of other native ants, but the ones I've listed are easy to find and get. Forelius are the easiest to get, along with Camponotus hyatti. Solenopsis xyloni are about average...easy to get on sunny days after a rain storm, but can still be a challenge. I only get Solenopsis colonies that are being attacked by Argentine ants, which is rather common sadly. Dorymyrmex bicolor are hard to find, but once found are easy to get as well.
Keep in mind...if an ant species only has one queen per colony, I won't get them at all. That is, unless they (like what happens with Solenopsis xyloni) are being invaded by Argentine ants. Otherwise, there is no point in destroying and taking a colony that is doing fine where they live.
There is also another option to shy away from conflicting ants. I can choose one area for Forelius, Camponotus hyatti and Solenopsis invicta. Then try a second area (there are a few areas inside the apartment complex with no Argentine ants nearby. But there are only two really good ones)...to introduce Dorymyrmex bicolor/insanus and any other ant that may conflict with ants from area one.
Really, the reason I do this is for various reasons. One, it is boring only having Argentine ants. Two, it is better for the ecosystem. Three, I like to have wild "pet" ants to take care of. And fourth...I would really like to see Pogonomyrmex appear in the native ant areas of the apartments. I think that would be amazing, to see a major native ant...be able to successfully make a colony in an urban area of San Diego. I think this can happen if there is enough native ants that dominate (even a medium size area) of the apartment complex. I already know two areas that there are no Argentine ants at all...so this is a niche I and native ants should take advantage of.
Next post will be for the statistics.