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FUNNEL ANTS – DIGGING FOR GOLD

Funnel ants are a major pest for those looking to keep a neat lawn; learning about how to control them is key to successful lawn care.

When it comes to insects that can destroy a lawn, funnel ants (pictured above) are amongst the worst. Not only will a major funnel ant infestation look unsightly, but with their extensive underground activities they undermine the soil structure, making surfaces uneven, damaging lawn mowers and even causing injury. A funnel ant infestation can significantly impact the value of a home.

Funnel ants are found throughout Australia and there are probably several species present (Aphaenogaster spp.). They spend most of their time underground where they have a mutually beneficial relationship with aphids that feed on grass roots. The funnels they build as a result of the underground excavations probably also trap ground-living insects to supplement their diet. Funnel ants do have a painful sting but are only aggressive if their nest is disturbed.

Their distribution can be very patchy and appears to be related to the soil and grass type in a particular area. But when present, the infestations can be very heavy. Although humid, coastal areas are more prone to funnel ant infestations, different species probably exploit drier areas.

The good news is that funnel ant control is relatively straightforward. Although there are a few products labelled for funnel ant treatments, fipronil-based products (liquid or granules) tend to deliver complete and long-lasting results.

There is no need for a direct nest injection with these products, simply applying the product on the surface of the mound area will deliver the required results. Ants working the soil will pick up the insecticide and there is likely to be some insecticide transfer between nestmates, ensuring complete colony control. As with any application outdoors, being aware of the use pattern of lawn areas and the presence of any surrounding waterways is important before deciding on a suitable product, reading the label and carrying out a treatment.

When it comes to treating lawns for ants, funnel ants and green-head ants (for which baits are a good option) are the key species that can drive business.