Behind the scenes, Sumitomo Chemical is working with Australian biosecurity authorities to tackle the problem of invasive ants. 

Since the initial discovery of the red imported fire ants (RIFA), Solenopsis invicta, in Brisbane and the subsequent discoveries in Gladstone and Sydney, Sumitomo Chemical has been a key partner to biosecurity authorities in their attempts to eradicate this devastating species.

Whilst RIFA (nest pictured above) has the highest profile of Australia’s growing contingent of invasive tramp ants, localised eradication programs have also been established for a number of other key invasive species. These include yellow crazy ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes), little fire ant (Wasmannia auropunctata) and tropical fire ant (Solenopsis geminata), with more recent programs for the browsing ant (Lepisiota frauenfeldti) in Darwin and Perth and black crazy ant (Paratrechina longicornis) on some offshore islands in north Queensland.

Sumitomo Chemical has worked closely with scientists from the organisations tasked with the eradication of these species, to develop tailored solutions based on the biology of the particular species. Ant species may vary in their response to granular baits due to food preference, time of year and reproductive cycle, and sensitivity to toxicants. Some such as RIFA, tropical fire ant and African big-headed ant (coastal brown ant) are generally accepting of simple corn-based baits while others such as yellow crazy ant and Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) require more protein and carbohydrate (sugar) based bait matrices.

Sumitomo Chemical recently completed an agreement with Biosecurity Queensland to supply the bulk of their granular bait product requirement for the RIFA program over the next three years. These baits are largely IGR-based (pyriproxyfen and s-methoprene) which are the mainstay of their program due to low toxicity and minimal environmental impact while being highly effective in eliminating colonies. Knowledge gained from this and other eradication programs has helped to frame the development of new and innovative solutions to ant control not only for invasive ant management and eradication but also for use by pest management professionals in urban pest control.

Distance Plus was a direct spin-out from the RIFA program, where pyriproxyfen-based bait has been used since RIFA was first discovered in 2001. Distance Plus is an enhanced formulation, building on the basic corn grit formulation with other food-grade ingredients found to be attractive to a wide range of ant species.

Synergy Pro is the latest ant bait innovation from Sumitomo which contains two separate food granules, each containing different combinations of carbohydrate, protein and lipids to ensure broad-spectrum appeal throughout the year. Performance is further enhanced with a dual active control system – a unique combination of pyriproxyfen (IGR) and hydramethylnon, to deliver the combined effects of queen sterilisation and worker mortality for more complete control. The combination of dual food granules and dual actives delivers a high performing, broad- spectrum bait that performs throughout the year – ‘Ant control made Simple’.