© 2019, Springer Nature Switzerland AG. Ecological impacts associated with ant introductions have received considerable attention, but most studies that report on these impacts contrast species assemblages between invaded and uninvaded sites. Given the low inferential power of this type of space-for-time comparison, alternative approaches are needed to evaluate claims that ant invasions drive native species loss. Here, we use long-term data sets from two different Argentine ant eradication programs on the California Channel Islands to examine how the richness and composition of native ant assemblages change before and after invasion (but prior to the initiation of treatments). At four different sites on two different islands, pre-invasion native ant assemblages closely resembled those at uninvaded (control) sites in terms of species richness, species composition, and the presence of multiple indicator species. Invader arrival coincided with large (> 75%) and rapid (within 1 year) declines in species richness, shifts in species composition, and the loss of indicator species. These impacts will hopefully be reversed by the recolonization of formerly invaded areas by native ant species following Argentine ant treatment, and long-term studies of native ant recovery at these sites are ongoing. Unchecked spread of the Argentine ant on other islands in this archipelago, however, poses a grave threat to native ants, which include a number of endemic taxa.