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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.