Some helpful tips about how to get the best results when baiting ants.

Baiting for ants can be very much like fishing. Sometimes the ants attack with vengeance and keep attacking. Other times, no matter how you wiggle the line or change its depth and location, nothing strikes. Like a patient fisherman, a pest manager baiting for ants has to have patience, re-assessing after each failure and try new approaches to achieve success.

According to a recent survey, ants continue to cause large numbers of callbacks, with 39 per cent of pest management professionals (PMPs) having a five per cent or higher callback rate (PMP Magazine, April 2014). Here are some possible scenarios as to why your ant control may not be working, along with tips to beef up your ant baiting skills.

  • Wrong placement in space and time. Placing bait at ground level is not the best option if the ants are trailing from trees onto the roofline and then into the structure. Similarly, if the ant species you are trying to control feeds at night, but the bait was placed during the day, either the bait gets ignored or taken by a different ant species during the daylight hours. Make sure you have correctly identified the source and timing of an ant infestation before placing the bait.
  • Ant nest and foraging patterns disturbed during treatment. Perhaps your ant inspection techniques resulted in moving critical items around, which disturbed the ant colony. Sometimes this can cause the ants to move nest, maybe into the structure! Be thoughtful of your inspection practices and think critically about how certain actions could affect pest patterns in the future.
  • Wrong bait matrix for ant food preference. Using a bait with the wrong food matrix for the species or for that time of year; maybe you used an ant bait that had a carbohydrate base, but the ants needed protein instead.

Today there are ant baits on the market that contain both ingredient bases to get around this problem.

  • The bait performance changed after placement. If baits are not taken up quickly, their characteristics can change due the environmental conditions or contamination. For example, maybe your liquid ant bait dried out too quickly, creating a high concentration of toxicity within the bait. This can mean the ants returning to the nest die a lot quicker, not allowing trophallaxis with bait never reaching the queen. Manufacturers have been able to get around this issue by formulating ant gel baits to retain the correct amount of moisture. Optigard ant gel bait and Advion ant gel bait, from Syngenta Professional Pest Management are two such products. In the main picture above, Advion ant gel is being readily consumed by odorous house ants.
  • There are competing food sources present. Your bait may not be able to compete with other food sources in the area, such as pet food left out overnight. To avoid this issue, encourage homeowners to store pet food elsewhere once their pets are finished eating.

These are just a few of the potential reasons for performance issues with ant baiting. Syngenta continues to invest and research new active ingredients and baiting technologies to provide pest managers with leading ant management technology.

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