Effective Control & Preventative Strategies for Ant Management

Ants are a common pest problem for residential and commercial accounts, and their adaptability can make them difficult to control. For efficient ant management, an integrated approach that includes both preventative techniques and control methods is needed. A successful control strategy will need to include inspection, identification, elimination of conducive conditions, and a range of effective ant control products to ensure the source of the infestation is targeted and reinfestation does not occur.

Ant Biology & Behavior

To effectively eliminate ant infestations, you need to know what you are up against. Understanding ants’ biology and behaviors including their social structure, feeding habits, seasonal food preferences, and colony structure will allow you to educate your customers on the best preventative strategies and ensure the correct products are being used to control these pests.

1. Social Structure

Ants undergo four life stages: egg, larval, pupal, and adult. They live in organized colonies that consist of the queen, female worker ants, and the brood. Ants work together for the benefit of the colony. Queens mate and produce eggs that will develop into sterile female ants or winged male and female reproductive ants. The reproductive ants will fly off and mate to establish new colonies. Male ants die after mating. Wingless female worker ants take care of the colony by foraging for food, building nests, tending the brood, and defending the colony.

2. Feeding Habits

Most ant species are omnivorous, feeding on a wide variety of food sources. Instead of eating solid food, many ants consume liquids including honeydew, plant nectar, or liquid baits. Worker ants feed solid foods to the larvae. The larvae then digest the food and regurgitate it. The liquid food is shared with the queen and other members of the colony. Since ants share food with the colony, baits are highly effective. The bait makes its way through the colony, reaching the workers, brood, and queen, ensuring the source of the infestation is targeted.

3. Seasonal Food Preferences

The nutritional needs of an ant colony can change seasonally. In spring, ant colonies focus on reproduction and growth of the colony. To help nourish the developing brood, ants forage for food that contains protein and fats. During summer, ant colonies continue to increase in size. To support their growth, foraging ants focus on locating food sources with carbohydrates. In fall, ants prepare for winter by consuming fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, which they store and use to survive the winter months. The needs of a colony can shift in a short period time, making it necessary to use a range of baits with multiple premium food attractants that will suit all ant preferences.

4. Colony Structure

The structure of an ant colony can affect the control methods needed. Some ant species have colonies that are monogynous, meaning each colony has only one queen. Other ant species can have colonies with multiple queens and multiple nests. Mega-colonies form when several nests of related ants cover large areas. Before treatment can begin, you will need to identify the ant species and determine if multiple queens are present. To control multi-queen colonies, an adequate amount of bait must be placed to allow workers to collect and distribute the bait to multiple queens and brood in several locations. Identifying multi-queen colonies and using adequate bait will help you achieve the most effective results and prevent callbacks.

Bait Options Available from Rockwell Labs

Rockwell Labs offers a range of liquid, gel, and granular baits for effective ant control. With different types of baits and different actives, there is a solution for every account type and every protocol requirement.

  • InTice Gelanimo Ant Bait:  InTice Gelanimo Ant Bait is a sweet ant gel that targets a wide range of ants. Its patented “rigid hydro-gel” technology allows multiple ants to feed on the surface of the bait without drowning. They can easily cut and carry pieces of the bait back to the colony. Colony sizes and application sites vary, which is why InTice Gelanimo is available in ready-to-use stations, 35 g syringes, and 4 oz cups. The 4 oz cups can be used with InTice Border Patrol Stations for exterior protection and large colony control. It is suitable for green service programs.

  • InTice Thiquid Ant Bait: InTice Thiquid Ant Bait is a thick syrup bait that controls a wide range of ants including Pharaoh ants. It contains premium food ingredients that mimic the sweet foods that ants eat and components that help to prevent moisture loss, which increases the longevity of bait placements. InTice Thiquid’s 5% borax formula can be diluted to 2.5% or 1% for very large multi-queen and multi-colony infestations. It can also be sprayed on surfaces for added versatility. InTice Thiquid is available in 4 oz dropper bottles and 1-gallon jugs. Non-repellent insecticides may be applied over the bait for a double whammy effect. It is also suitable for green service programs.

  • InTice Rover Ant Bait: InTice Rover Ant Bait is a specially formulated version of InTice Thiquid Ant Bait that is highly attractive to rover ants as well as other common household ants except carpenter, fire, and harvester ants. It is a thick syrup bait that won’t run of flat surfaces. For very large multi-queen and multi-colony ant infestations, its 5% borax formula can be diluted to 2.5% or 1%. InTice Rover Ant Bait is available in an 8 oz bottle with dropper top and is currently registered in Arizona and Texas. It can also be used in conjunction with a non-repellent insecticide.

  • InTice 10 Perimeter Bait: InTice 10 Perimeter Bait with 10% boric acid is a long-lasting, weather resistant, and highly effective granular bait. It contains a palatable blend of protein, fats, and carbohydrates that ants can’t resist. It is the perfect quarterly perimeter defense to prevent ant problems. Bait can be applied in a 3-foot band around structures at a rate of 1 lb per 1000 sq ft. The granules are mold and moisture resistant, and the active won’t break down from heat or UV light. InTice 10 will provide up to 90 days of protection outdoors. InTice 10 is available in a 1 lb shaker bottle, 10 lb zipper bag, 40 lb carton, and 4 lb shaker jug. It can also be used for green service programs.

  • InVict AB Insect Paste: InVict AB Insect Paste is formulated with .05% Abamectin to rapidly kill workers, queens, and brood, helping to eliminate ant colonies. The bait matrix contains protein, sugars (carbohydrates), and fats that make it perfect for spring ant baiting for most common ant species. It is also effective against Pharaoh, pavement, and other protein- or oil-feeding ants year-round. The bait is very slow drying and will last for three months or until eaten. InVict AB can be used indoors or outdoors and is available in a box of five 35 g syringes or a single 300 g “Big Gun” syringe.

  • InVict Xpress Granular Bait: InVict Xpress Granular Bait with .5% imidacloprid provides lightning-fast results. It starts killing in 1 hour, making it ideal when a large number of ants needs to be controlled quickly. It attracts and kills most common ant species except carpenter, fire, Pharoah, and harvester ants. Ants can’t resist its highly palatable bait matrix that contains six different foods. InVict Xpress has a low use rate of 4-8 oz per 1000 sq ft and can be used indoors, outdoors, and for turf applications. It is available in an 8 oz shaker bottle, 4 lb shaker bottle, and 25 lb carton.

Treating Indoor Ant Nests

Ants enter structures looking for food, moisture, and shelter. Their nests can often be found in wall voids. To draw out workers and kill the colony, a bait, such as InTice Gelanimo, InTice Thiquid, or InVict AB, can be placed near trails. To prevent ants from entering the structure, InVict Xpress Granular Bait or InTice 10 Perimeter Bait can be placed around the perimeter of the structure. For another layer of protection, you can apply a non-repellent spray to the perimeter before bait application. This will introduce the spray and the bait to the colony, helping to completely eliminate it. If ant nests can be located in the structure, botanical insecticide dusts, such as EcoVia WD Wettable Dust, can be applied to the voids where nests are located for quick knockdown and immediate repellency.

Treating Outdoor Ant Nests

If ant nests are located outside of the structure, baits can be used for ant management. Apply InVict Xpress to areas where ants nest, trail, and harbor. It can be applied to mulch beds, heavy ground cover, under decks, and other areas where ants are likely to nest. Before bait placement, you can apply a non-repellent insecticide spray. InVict AB or InTice Gelanimo may also be used if ants are seen trailing on the structure. Pay attention to areas where ants can enter the structure including cracks around windows, doors, eaves, expansion joints, and areas where utility lines or pipes enter the building. When large ant colonies or areas with continued ant pressure are present, InTice Border Patrol Stations may be installed close to nesting sites. These stations can be used with InTice Gelanimo 4 oz cups or InTice Thiquid.

Preventing Ant Infestations

Setting up a proactive defense using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies can help to prevent ant problems. Prevention methods should include eliminating conducive conditions and doing a perimeter pest treatment.

Eliminating Conductive Conditions

It is important to encourage your customers to implement preventative techniques around their home or business. They should work to minimize entry points and remove items that can attract ants. Customers should focus on:

  • Preventing access into structures by sealing holes, cracks, and gaps
  • Controlling moisture in and around structures
  • Eliminating potential food sources
  • Removing excess debris and objects that ants can use as nesting sites
  • Trimming branches and foliage so they aren’t touching the structure

Perimeter Pest Treatment

In addition to these techniques, a 2-step perimeter pest treatment can also be used to prevent ant infestations. You will want to focus on areas that ants find most attractive using this approach.

1.  Spray the Perimeter

You will want to create a repellent barrier that will help to keep ants from entering the structure. Using micro-encapsulated LambdaStar UltraCap 9.7% or EcoVia EC Emulsifiable Concentrate, spray along the exterior foundation or ground junction, expansion joints, eaves and overhangs, and window and door frames. You should also apply insecticide sprays along structural guidelines and areas where different materials connect such as wood and siding, siding and trim, or siding and the foundation.

2. Apply Granular Baits

After creating a repellent barrier, you will want to focus on a granular bait application. Placing bait around the perimeter will help to prevent ants from entering the structure. Before foraging ants make it to the repellent barrier or the structure, they will find the bait and take it back to the nest where the colony will consume it, killing the colony. You will want to apply the bait around the perimeter of the structure and outside of the repellent barrier. For long-lasting protection, InTice 10 Perimeter Bait is an ideal solution. Another effective option is EcoVia G Granular Insecticide, which is a 25(b) exempt botanical product.

Ant infestations can be difficult to control, but the right strategy can help you achieve success. Understanding ant behaviors and properly identifying ant species will help to ensure that the correct control methods are being implemented. Whether you are treating an active infestation or setting up a proactive defense to prevent infestations, Rockwell’s range of insecticide baits, sprays, and dusts will give you an unfair advantage against these pests.