Mike de Luca and Peter Ambrose-Pearce from Syngenta explain why it pays to carefully assess the situation when it comes to ant jobs. 


While home ant treatments might be one of the most common made by pest control managers, there are a multitude of variables in every job, and a wide range of potential treatment options available. Making the right decision on the most effective treatment involves a three-step process: Situation, Selection, and Solution; assessing the situation and using that information to select the most appropriate solution for your customer.


Queenly Behaviours

Inspection and ant identification at the beginning of the treatment selection process is important. One key aspect that correct identification allows is understanding whether the ant you are dealing with has a single or multiple queens.

Single queen species, such as the black house ant, are able to be treated with a knockdown product when both the nests and trails can be identified. Products like Demand CS (best placed for outdoor work) or Demand Duo (best placed for indoor work), should be applied directly to the nest and trails. The unique ZC formulation in Demand Duo, which includes micro-encapsulated lambda-cyhalothrin and thiamethoxam, delivers both rapid knockdown and excellent longevity.

When nests cannot be located but ant trails can, a gel solution provides a mechanism for effective transfer of the chemistry back to the nest by the ants themselves, meaning no nests are left behind. Odorous garden ants (main picture, above) are highly attracted to bait gels like Advion Ant Gel and Optigard Ant Bait Gel, which deliver effective colony control.

Multi-queen species such as Pharaoh ant, are a little trickier to treat. If you manage to kill one or even a couple of queens, there are others readily on hand to assume dominance and bring the colony back to full strength quickly. In this instance, a combination of a non-repellent spray and gel baits will achieve better results.

Using Advion Ant Gel and Arilon spray for example, will give the ants double the opportunity to be exposed to the active ingredient – indoxacarb – whose unique meta-active molecule activates in the insect, allowing time for the ant to make it back to the nest. Studies show that with indoxacarb, foraging ants have time to return to the colony and share the active ingredient with the brood and the queen(s) – impacting all ants at different life stages and giving you a better chance that all the queens in the colony will be affected. For these same reasons, a gel and spray indoxacarb combination is a great treatment choice for heavy ant infestations.


Weather influences

Keeping one eye on the weather forecast is also important when dealing with ants. If a customer has a “sudden infestation” a couple of days before a rain pattern is due, then you should pause and give the situation a little more attention.

When rain approaches, the queen(s) will direct workers to protect their eggs and move them out of the subterranean nest where flooding is an imminent possibility. During the days before a storm, the ants will be too busy to take up any baits you place. And this will continue for a couple of days after the storm as the ants move their precious eggs back into the safety of the nest.

Explaining this to the customer is important so they know that you have a reason to delay doing your treatment. You don’t want them to get the impression that you’re ignoring their problem. Armed with the extra knowledge your customer might even appreciate that you are trying to get them the most effect out of your treatment.


Treatment selection: call outs vs annual visits

Your annual general pest spray treatments are a different kettle of fish to a one-off infestation callout. If in both situations an ant infestation is being reported by the customer, you can be sure that their expectations are quite different.

For a one-off call out, the customer likely has a bad and unusual infestation, and wants it to be treated quickly and efficiently. They’re looking for results that can be seen while you, the professional pest manger, are still there. A fast-acting knockdown that delivers longevity as well is the perfect treatment option. The specialist Demand Duo ZC formulation is an excellent choice for fast knockdown of existing problems, followed by powerful longevity. With this treatment you can let your customer know a solution is delivered today with protection ongoing for up to 90 days.

For your annual GP home spray, your customer has more trust in you, as they’ve asked you to return for another treatment. And you know that you’re looking to provide a long-term solution for all pests around the house, to keep the customer happy until your next scheduled treatment. A perimeter treatment to prevent invaders is required – one that can be used on all surfaces and foliage, and which is powerful against ants as well as a broad range of other insects. You’re also going to want to deliver outstanding longevity to ensure it keeps working long after you have left to prevent call backs. Demand CS has up to three months control outdoors and 10 weeks on mosquitoes. Partner that with Demand Duo for indoor protection, and you’ve delivered indoors and out.

Where sensitive areas are been managed and sprays cannot be placed, gels really come into their own. When managing ants, the power of a gel is its ability to be taken back to the colony and transferred throughout. Delivering effective colony control within sensitive areas.


Situation > Selection > Solution

For any ant treatment, understanding the situation is critical; considering which ant and their specific behaviours, the location, weather variables, and what outcome is required by your customer, are all critical in making the next decision step. The selection of a treatment option is entirely dependent on the situation at hand as well as the desired outcome.

Once the situation is established, and the selection of treatment decided, only then will you deliver the most effective solution for your customer. Delivering effective control in the here-and-now of the treatment, and ensuring a treatment continues to work long after we have left. Resulting in happy customers, fewer call backs and potential future work.


Mike de Luca, Technical Manager and Peter Ambrose-Pearce, Sales Manager, Syngenta ANZ

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