What is the best way to control crazy ants in a kitchen area? They are first seen by the window above the sink and then all over counters and cabinets. – Kevin, VT
Crazy Ants are given this wild name because of their rapid, zig-zag fashion of running around. They are very long legged, giving them an even greater ability to run quickly. They apparently cannot tolerate cold temperatures very well, and so are more common in the southern states, but when occurring in northern states like Vermont are prone to entering structures for the winter. They will then nest in voids or even the soil of potted plants, and forage throughout the building. They will feed on sugars or protein, but appear to be particularly partial to the proteins – greases and animal matter – so the kitchen is a great place to find them, as well as around pet foods.
Colonies of Crazy Ants are relatively small – up to 2,000 workers – but they like to forage long distances from their nests, so this makes your control a little more difficult, since finding and eradicating the nest is key. If you can actually determine where the nest is located then you could directly treat it with an insecticide. If the nest is not located then baiting will probably be your best bet, although bait acceptance by Crazy Ants is not as good as it is for some other kinds. With the newer arsenal of baits available, with mixtures of sugar, protein, and other enticements in them , it may be very successful though, and you can enhance the likelihood of the ants accepting your bait if you can successfully encourage the homeowner to thoroughly clean the entire kitchen. The stove may be one of the most important areas, where grease and spills can accumulate in hidden pockets that the ants can find but the homeowner does not see. Foods must be put away, pet foods not left out, spills cleaned each day, and stored foods placed in sealed containers. Treating with residual sprays may help, and if you choose to apply these try to avoid areas where bait will be placed to reduce the repellency of the area. Microencapsulated products – Fenvastar Ecocap, Cykick, Demand – often are most easily picked up by the rapidly moving ants.