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ANT MARKET SNAPSHOT 2020

We asked pest managers for their thoughts on ant control; we share the results of the 2020 survey here.

 

While historically ants have been a challenging pest to control, with the range of baits and non-repellent sprays on the market, pest managers should feel confident when tackling ant problems and in turn, making good profit. This Ant Market Snapshot provides a feel for the pest ants around Australia and how pest managers approach ant treatments.*

In terms of indoor ants, the black house ant (Ochetellus spp.) is specified as the number one pest ant by nearly 60% of pest managers, with both the white-footed house ant and the big-headed or coastal brown ant (Pheidole megacephala, pictured above) being named as the number one indoor ant pest by 15% of pest managers. Outdoors, big-headed ants are the number one problem according to almost 50% of pest managers. In the lawn, funnel ants (Aphaenogaster spp.) and green-head ants (Rhytidoponera metallica) are the main pests (see Figure 1 below).

Figure 1: The species of ants pest managers most frequently control

 

However there were some differences by state. Although the black house ant was the clear number one indoor ant overall, in WA the big-headed ant was identified at the number one indoor pest ant. Outside the house, the big-headed ant may have dominated in QLD and WA, but in NSW there was more of a mixture of ants specified as the main pest including pavement (Tetramorium spp.) and carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.), and in SA and VIC big-headed ant got barely a mention, with meat ants (Iridomyrmex spp.), bull ants (Myrmecia spp.) and Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) leading the way. With regard to lawn problems, although funnel ants and green-head ants got the vast majority of mentions, in WA the big-headed ant (again!) won the honours.

In terms of the ant season, for many, ants start becoming a problem in September, with the activity trailing of in April. However, in QLD and WA, at least 50% of pest managers indicated significant ant activity in May, and indeed in the warmers states (QLD, WA, NSW), around 15% of pest managers indicated year round ant business.Certainly the ant market seems to be booming. The peak number of ant jobs being carried out per technician per week at the peak of the season was 7.5, although some technicians were doing 20 or more ant jobs a week. On average, ant work constituted about 30% of the non-termite work carried out by pest managers. In assessing the general trends in the market, nearly 40% said it was increasing, 58% thought it was about the same and less than 2% of pest managers thought the amount of ant work was decreasing.

Not surprisingly, pest managers have a wide range of approaches when tackling ant problems. Approximately two thirds of pest managers include ants as part of their general pest treatment. Of those that do, approximately 75% use ant baits in addition to their spray treatment. For those who include ants in their general pest treatments, the average service free period was 4.75 months for indoor ants and bit less for outdoor ants, although some 20% of pest managers offered a full 12 month service free period, including ants.

Some 83% of pest managers o er specialist ant treatments and all but one include sprays on some of the ant jobs. On the ip side, just under 5% of pest managers only use sprays on ant jobs. Although non-pyrethroid products are often seen as the game changer in achieving success in ant treatments, a large number of pest managers still use pyrethroid sprays on ant jobs, although this is more likely when ants are included as part of a general pest treatment. Compared to the 2018 Ant Market Snapshot, the number of pest managers using granular and liquid baits remained steady at approximately 60% and 40% respectively, but the number of pest managers now using gel baits appears to have increased from just over 70% to nearly 90% of pest managers.

With the increasing number of effective ant products that have come onto the market over the last decade, pest managers are now more confident to tackle ant jobs, charge good prices and offer warranties. When asked the typical pricing for an indoor ant job, the average was just over $210, ranging from $149 to $350. Pest managers are generally confident to provide a service free warranty on ant treatments. On indoor treatments the average duration of the service free period is 4.7 months, on outdoor treatments it is 3.9 months and on lawn ants 3.4 months. Interestingly, whilst 17% of pest managers will provide a full 12 month warranty on indoor ant treatments, just over 10% of pest managers do not offer any service free period.

There are clearly a large number of ant products on the market. In this study, pest managers named 40 di erent products amongst their favourites. Fipronil-based sprays were the most named product, getting 28% of mentions and cited by over 50% as their favourite. In terms of specific product mentions, Termidor received the most mentions with around 15% of pest managers indicating it was one of their top three ant products, with Advion, Antagonist Pro, Attractant Pro and SAS Pro each getting between 5-6% of mentions. There are plenty of options for successful ant control!

 

* The Ant Market Snapshot was carried out in October 2020 and received 105 responses.