With such a variety of treatments available, ants put a pest manager’s skills of inspection, insect knowledge and professionalism to the test.

As a pest notorious for its resilience and vast numbers, controlling ant infestation is a key challenge for most pest management professionals. Rather than trying to find a one-size-fits-all solution, the best approach is multi-faceted and combines inspection, identification, diagnosis and treatment – all in consultation with your customer.

To help, here are four important factors to consider when developing your own treatment plan for ant infestations:

1.Know your ant species

The key to effective control is identifying the species of ant you are dealing with. Ant feeding habits and nesting behaviours differ based on biology; some ants prefer to eat sugar, while others prefer protein. Some can be dealt with through single baiting, such as the native Green-Headed Ant, which succumbs to a single application near the nest entrance. Others, like the White-Footed Ant, require multiple baiting – preferably with protein, during the summer months.

This means that for effective results, any control strategy needs to be tailored to the specific ant species. To assist pest managers, Syngenta’s Optigard gel bait controls a broad spectrum of ants, including Argentine, Carpenter and Ghost Ants, while the bait formulation of Advion is more attractive to sweet feeders and other ant species.

2. Do a thorough inspection

Don’t forget that you are treating a colony of ants within a complex environment. Complete a thorough inspection for ant trails, scouts, ingress points and nests in the surrounding area, paying close attention to overhanging foliage, cracks and gaps on the exterior of the building, garden beds, adjoining structures such as decks or pergolas, and shaded areas (for example, garden beds and landscaped areas). Any of these could be a source of food or water. Areas containing fertiliser or sticky sap are commonly overlooked and easy to ignore, so be sure to do a thorough sweep of the area.

3. Set the colony as the target

At any one time, less than 10% of the colony is out foraging. This means that relying solely on insecticides such as pyrethroids with fast knockdown will have very little impact on the main population of ants being targeted.

An effective approach is capitalising on the social structure and behaviour of the ants. Non-repellent gels with delayed mortality, like Advion ant gel bait and Optigard ant bait gel, do just that. Ants unknowingly pick up the insecticide and the delayed response allow foraging ants to carry the product back to the colony and transfer it to nestmates, eradicating the whole colony. Advion (indoxacarb) and Optigard (thiamethoxam) contain different active ingredients so are ideal rotation partners for pest managers to lower the risk of insect resistance.

In addition to the gel products, Arilon insecticide offers additional flexibility with the same non-repellent properties. The delay in mortality allows for transfer and provides more comprehensive population control.

4. Use the right solution

To get the job done right the first time and avoid callbacks, it’s important to use products that are specifically designed for the job in hand, whether it’s controlling the colony, creating a protective perimeter or spot-treating a difficult area.

Syngenta has developed several products to give pest management professionals a variety of control options. Optigard and Advion ant gel baits can be used indoors or outdoors as an alternate food source, giving ants enough time to return to their nest and share the bait with the rest of the colony. Arilon insecticide is ideal for spot-treating areas where there is sparse ant activity. Demand is effective as a residual perimeter treatment, especially when ants are trailing from adjacent properties.

By tailoring your approach to suit the species of ants you are dealing with, and using the right products, you can offer your customers peace of mind ultimately build a better pest management business.

Mike De Luca, Technical Manager, Syngenta

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