Tools for Ant Control
Q: Where do I start when dealing with a diverse set of social insects like ants?
A: Correct identification is critical for achieving control, and one of the biggest challenges in gaining control is understanding the colony structure of the ant species you are treating. Knowing whether you’re dealing with unicolonial ant species (ones that form super-colonies with many satellite nests), or multi-colonial ant species (single nests) impacts the type of products you should apply. It is essential to determine if the species is one that nests indoors, outdoors or both. Certain ant species, such as odorous house ants, Argentine ants and black crazy ants, have satellite colonies and can move locations frequently. Use a product labeled for outdoor broadcast treatments, like Sumari® Insecticide, to treat potential hidden nests and achieve better control.
During your inspection, look for sources of food and water, especially in key areas around the structure, such as bark mulch, drip irrigation lines and rotting or damaged wood. Most ants become problems because they extend their search for food, water and shelter into a structure. Make sure you are looking at what direction the ants are foraging in. Some species nest outside and are only in your customers’ home for food and water. Use non-repellent liquids and baits to reduce numbers, followed by a barrier treatment once the interior infestation is taken care of. However, when treating interior-nesting ants like pharaoh ants, use baits, as repellent sprays can often cause budding or create satellite colonies, making the problem worse.
No matter what species you are dealing with, ensure you are using products that exploit the foraging and food-sharing behaviors present in most pest ant species, which can make getting control easier. If the product(s) don’t make it to the larvae and queen(s), the likelihood of control diminishes significantly.
Q: Why should I use bait when using a liquid insecticide treatment?
A: Baiting alongside a non-repellent liquid residual provides an advantage in ant control by enhancing exposure volume with the insecticide treatment.
With the expansion of invasive ant species coupled with increased regulation of products, ant management will become increasingly difficult. Using innovative products, such as baits with better acceptance over a wide range of species or liquid products with novel chemistries, is essential to gain better control. But education of species and their behaviors will remain your best tool for achieving effective, long-term management.
Dealing with highly polygyne species requires a strategic approach. Integrating baits and transferable non-repellents maximizes the impact of the initial treatment. Ants can exhibit selective feeding behaviors, so experimenting with bait attractants can help determine preference. To intercept foraging ants effectively, treat around tree bases or use sprays on elevated access points. Outdoor baiting redirects ant trails away from structures, preventing indoor infestations. Treatments of certain species, like odorous house ants and Argentine ants, with satellite colonies and frequent relocations, benefit from products labeled for outdoor broadcast treatments. Fast-acting barrier treatments are crucial to keep ants out, but caution is needed to avoid trapping them inside during application.
Q: What tips do you have for communicating with customers?
A: It is critical to educate clients about the importance of sanitation, preventive measures and the role they play in ant control. Transparency and education are key. Regardless of location, a universal piece of advice is to discourage customers from self-treating with over-the-counter products. While these may offer quick results, they often fall short of delivering lasting control. Explain your actions to the customer, and the reasons behind them, and stress the importance of patience when dealing with social insects.
Your customer can provide vital information that will aid in your inspection. They may be able to locate where ants have been trailing. It can also be helpful to ask if they are willing to pre-bait for ants before you arrive. This will help locate trailing ants so you can perform a more effective inspection and treatment. Have them place a food source like honey, syrup, etc. in areas where they have seen ants. Pro tip: Encourage them to use a piece of wax paper for easy cleanup.