Ask the Expert - How to efficiently control ants?

Question: I’m really struggling to control ants in domestic accounts. Customers don’t want smelly, strong chemicals used around their house but when I use ant baits, heaps of ants attack the baits but customers are not happy because the ant problem is not sorted. I get lots of service calls which make ant treatments too expensive. Please help.

Print page Ants - Pest Control - Bayer
Ant management is by far the most complicated pest control activity you will ever face.

Thanks John – great question.

Ant management is by far the most complicated pest control activity you will ever face.  In part, this is due to the sheer numbers in colonies but also the vast complexities of where the nest’s set up.  Southern Africa  has over 1000 described species of ants - no single application controls all ants and most species will never cross your path  

Get to know the enemy…
Baits kill massive numbers of ants but they leave no residual.  Clear an area of activity and it is re-infested by ant colonies from the surrounding environment.  Often described as a ‘vacuum effect’, you literally suck new colonies into the void.  For consistent results, improve your ant knowledge and in most cases, use a combination of approaches to target their vulnerable stages.

Why improve your knowledge of ants?  

Well, the greatest developments in ant management are target-specific baits which are excellent at controlling very large numbers of nuisance ants.

The difficulty is, not all ants feed on all baits, knowing their preference is the key to effective control.  To complicate matters, certain baits are more attractive at different times of the year.  It depends on the developmental stage of the colony and what foods they need.

When all goes well, ants do the hard work, delivering the killing agent directly to the colony.

Colony elimination takes time – help customers understand
Ants are liquid feeders and cannot consume solids.  Feed them solid granule bait and they’ll carry it back to the colony for developing larvae.  Larvae have enzymes to dissolve solids into liquid which is fed through oral secretions to the rest of the colony.

This process takes time but the transfer of the active ingredient decimates the colony and can completely destroy the colony’s ability to grow and survive.  

Unfortunately, customers still see ant activity for a considerable period which is when the phone rings for a service call. Help them understand the process or take action to deliver instant results.

Speed up the process…
To overcome the delay, use a good residual barrier product, Maxforce Ant Bait Granules or Temprid SC to prevent ant entry inside the building and provide good ant management.  This achieves very fast control of the visible ant infestation.  Customers are satisfied - no visible ants– it’s a good result!

Alongside a barrier treatment, employ liquid baits Maxforce Quantum to control ant nests that are already established inside the building’s cavities, where sprays can’t reach. Set baits where ants can get easy access but your customer doesn’t disturb them.  Show customers the bait and explain what it’s doing.  Spend time finding ant entry and nesting points inside the house and seal them up. This gets customer engagement and they’re more likely to work with you on the problem.  The other important area to treat is the ground area outside your residual barrier i.e lawns, to reduce ant numbers and activity apply a turf treatment using Merit 200SC.

Broadcast granular baits (Maxforce Ant Bait Granules) are foraged by worker ants and carried back to the colony.  The activity of your broadcast baiting significantly enhances protection of the perimeter of your account.  By reducing ants present in the immediate environment, you vastly improve the performance of the critical external ant barrier.

Can baits be used by themselves without residual treatments?  
Well yes, they can.  Sometimes, it’s the only advisable option for ant management.  For example, by their  very nature, Timid ants or Pharaoh ants needs a bait-only approach.  Colonies of Pharaoh ants contain multiple queens, if they are disturbed, the queens split from one distinct colony into many scattered colonies.  Your ant problem has just multiplied exponentially.  Due to the extremely sensitive nature of some situations, a bait-only approach is often the only valid option.

Pugnacious Ants are  controlled quickly and easily with a broadcast application of bait. Baiting overcomes the cryptic nature of this ant’s nest, as toxic food is taken directly to the heart of the nest.  You can’t achieve this colony penetration with a spray.

Tackling Super colonies…
The “House Ant” group, Pheiodole spp. is very difficult to control.  Multiple queens create enormous, interconnected super colonies which can extend over many hectares.
Baiting the entire infestation is very unlikely but you can significantly impact ant numbers.  The area cleared becomes re-infested by the surrounding super colony but in the time taken, customers have some respite. Of course in sensitive areas, Hospitals, Food Manufacturing Plants etc. baiting may be the only solution.

Bayer Recommends…

In most of the Temperate regions cold spells significantly limit ant activity in winter and one or two barrier applications using Maxforce Ant Bait Granules or Temprid SC may be enough for season-long control.

In warmer sub-tropical and non-seasonal rainfall regions implement a regular perimeter barrier service for 100% effective control.  My recommendation is 3-monthly perimeter services using Maxforce Ant Bait Granules or Temprid SC to prevent entry, coupled with a liquid bait application indoors using Maxforce Quantum to control ant nests established inside the house followed by a turf treatment using Merit 200SC to reduce ant numbers and activity in the lawn surrounding the property. An integrated approach will make a difference and regular follow-up visits allows you to re-connect with your customer and make sure they are satisfied.  You’ll find it easy to grow your customer base by providing them with highly effective ant control where the opposition is failing to deliver.

Repeated baiting is however a long term solution to most problem ant species including the Argentine, Black, Brown House and Pugnacious ants. This if practiced diligently will rid the customer of current colonies as well as re-invasions from super cells.