Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tips for Effective Ant Baiting

Baiting for ants has some advantages over other types of insecticides. First, baits can work when the nest cannot be found or it is inaccessible for treating with other chemicals. Second, baits pose less of a risk to children and staff by reducing the risk of possible contact with any toxic chemical. Third, baits can kill the entire colony whereas most insecticides sprayed on a surface kill only the workers that contact it. 

Remember, baits are effective only if they are eaten and not all baits are equally attractive to different ant species. Make sure the bait you use is acceptable to the ants. Place a small amount of bait where you see ants foraging and then watch their reaction for a few minutes. If the ants show no interest in the bait, try another bait until you find one that they readily feed on. Once you find a bait that is acceptable to the ants, several other factors determine its effectiveness:
  • Sanitation - Baits work best when there are no other food sources available to ants. Keep areas clean so ants are not "distracted" from locating and feeding on the bait.
  • Proper placement - Bait should be placed in known or suspected areas of ant activity. Be sure that bait is placed out of the reach of children and staff. Never place bait directly on countertops where food is prepared or in an area where it will get wet and/or contaminated.
  • Quantity - Make sure you put out enough bait and that it remains fresh. If the ants carry away all of the bait, then they may leave the area and go elsewhere before enough bait is spread within the colony. Ant species that are capable of producing large colonies, such as the Argentine ant, will most likely require more than one application of bait.
  • Durability - Baits will eventually become unacceptable if they are exposed to high temperatures, rain, and sunlight. Check baited areas for signs of ant feeding and replace baits that are no longer acceptable to the ants.
  • Patience is important to successful baiting. Most ant baits are slow-acting. Explain to students and staff that they may continue to see ants for a week or more after baiting. It is important that the ants are able to return to the nest with the bait so it can be fed to other members of the colony. Ask people not to disturb or kill the ants.
  • Remember, if you determine that chemical control is needed to successfully control the ants, never spray in areas baits have been applied. If the baits are contaminated, the ants will avoid the bait.
Below is an "Ant Baiting Decision Tree" developed by Jules Silverman, NCSU Charles G. Wright Professor of Structural Pest Management. You may use the Baiting Tree as a tool in determining what actions to take in order to successfully bait for ants.

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