Residual spray treatments alone for controlling nuisance ants, although effective against foraging ants, can have a more limited impact on other fragments of the ant colony (depending on the active ingredients). Therefore, baiting can be an effective way to reduce both the ants you see and the colony from which they originate. When employing baits, there are several important aspects to effectively apply for ant control that must be observed for ideal results.

  1. Foraging preference determination.
    Using small amounts of different baits (either toxic or non-toxic), determine whether ants are feeding on sugar- or protein-based food sources, as well as whether they have a preference for liquids, gels or solids. Identification of the ant species may also aid in determining what nutritional preferences an infesting ant may have.
  2. Bait placement is important.
    Bait should be applied on or near an active foraging trail or where ant activity has recently been observed. Since ants have to find the bait and come directly in contact for efficacy, baits too far off the foraging trail may not be discovered. Additionally, ants must be able to access baits to carry back to the nest to impact the entire colony.
  3. Bait volume and longevity should be monitored.
    If bait is fully consumed in a short period of time, there may not be enough toxicant to impact an entire colony. Replace depleted baits and stations as needed. Baits that are left to the elements for too long may also become less palatable, and thus ignored by foraging ants. Dry or damaged baits should be replaced as well.
  4. If pairing baits with a surface treatment, be sure the treatment is non-repellant and moderate- to slow-acting.
    Repellent treatments will deter the ants from foraging in the area in which the baits were applied. Fast-acting treatments will kill workers too quickly, which will lower the probability that toxicants (from both the treatment and bait) will be carried back to the nest to contaminate non-foraging nest-mates.

It will also be important to manage the expectations of the customer when using bait products. Although potentially highly effective, customers may see foraging ants for days or longer before the treatment begins to reduce visible ant numbers. Be sure to reiterate that ant activity shortly after application should not infer that a treatment isn’t effective, but rather, that the treatment is likely achieving better nest penetration, and therefore overall control.

More Resources

  • Read the latest version of MGK’s PMP Pulse Newsletter for more information on ants and tips on ant control.

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