Learn how to deal with invasive ant species coming inside buildings by using a variety of products.
As the weather changes, so does the behaviour of insects. Insects of differing species invade for different reasons: seeking warmth or cooler temperatures, searching for food or water, or even retreating from too much water (i.e. the east Australian La Niña). Warmer weather is on its way, and with it the fast invasion of many species of ant colonies across Australia. These pesky pests can takeover residential sheds and green spaces quickly once the weather starts to warm up. So it’s important to get on the front foot and be prepared.
If you have customers who experience ant invasions every year, be sure to communicate with them early about expectations. Giving them a bit of information about ant biology and how best to control them early in the season – before their populations build up and become an even larger problem – can help to ease your customers’ minds.
Ant biology to share with your customers
Ants undergo complete metamorphosis, which includes egg, larva, pupa, and adult stages. It can take from several weeks to a few months for an ant to develop from an egg to an adult depending on species, temperature, and availability of resources.
Invasive ants, such as Argentine ants, tend to create new nests through a process of budding, where reproductives and workers move away to set up a new nest nearby. Over time multiple nests are created over the infested area to create a super colony, which can have hundreds, if not thousands, of queens and millions of workers in a single colony.
If one or more of your customers has consistent invasive ant problems, helping them to learn about things like the ant life cycle, species biology and other factors can help them to understand how difficult these ants can be to control. With invasive ants, it is highly unlikely you will be able to eliminate the colony; it’s about management and regular servicing to keep numbers down and ants out of the house.
Tips for inspection and treatment of ants
Be sure to allow enough time to do a thorough inspection and treatment early in the season.
If you know about a problem area, be efficient and hit the ants upfront with a targeted treatment before the population becomes large. Residual contact insecticides, such as Demand Duo Insecticide from Syngenta, offer strong results because they control adults and nymphs at the time of treatment.
Gel baits such as Optigard Ant Gel or Advion Ant Gel, which are formulated with a transfer effect, are useful partners to help deal with invasive ants. Ants will transport the active ingredient from the gel back to their nest. Since a pest manager often cannot find the nest, this transfer effect means that the active ingredient is shared with other nestmates and the queen (or queens). Whilst it may not transfer to the whole super colony, the bait can eliminate the nest that is invading the home. Gels are especially useful in treating ants that are invading a home in search of food or water, as the bait is an attractive food source.
Ask your customers for information on ant sightings and timings and take notes, but also trust your own inspection. When you identify conditions that favour ants it’s a good idea to discuss them with the customer, and then follow up with a short report with photos so that you are all on the same page in terms of treatment and expectations.
Understanding the type of ants that you are aiming to control can help you to provide your customers with extended ant control.
Interesting facts about ants
Several species of invasive ants congregate in large numbers, with massive Argentine ant colonies having been mapped in Melbourne and New Zealand.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, “…the largest recorded contiguous colony of ants in the world stretches 6,000 kilometres (3,700 miles) from northern Italy, through the south of France to the Atlantic coast of Spain, and is made up of a species of Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) introduced into Europe approximately 80 years ago.”
The yellow crazy ant is another invasive ant that develops super colonies. Such super colonies can have a serious environmental impact as well as be annoying for us humans.