The cucumbers lying on the ground in Fay Brasting's Whanganui garden are crawling with tiny brown ants.

They run up her arms as she picks them and can give little bites. When she pulls up a weed, ants erupt out of the hole it leaves behind.

"It's like a little geyser. They all just bubble up from under the ground."

They're also walking around in all the trees, nesting under pot plants and making their tangled chaotic trails through the sheds of the St John's Hill property.

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The ants are Argentine ants, relatively new to Whanganui but spreading throughout New Zealand since 1990.

They can make supercolonies with many queens and wipe out other insects in their territory.

Ms Brasting moved into the St John's Hill property in July. At that time there was no sign or smell of ants. They made their presence felt in November, in the house as well as the garden.

Leaving pizza or chocolate biscuits on the bench for more than 15 minutes, she would return to find the food swarming with ants. Ants got into the oven, the dishwasher and the bathroom. Ants would crawl up her legs while she was watching television, and walk over her mother as she slept.

The two got busy with fly spray, making barriers to keep the ants out.

"We are getting through a lot of fly spray."

The house next door is infested with the same ants, and Ms Brasting has heard of others with the same problem in Kent Rd.

She doesn't want to go down the usual pest control route to get rid of the pests. It involves saturation baiting, with 70 to 100 baits across an average property, Whanganui pest control technician Gary Clark has said.

Ms Brasting is worried her dogs and cat will eat the baits.

She can cope with the ants, as long as they are not inside as well.

"If they drive us crazy maybe we will move," she said.