It’s necessary to identify which type of ant species you are infested with because the species of ants widely vary which also means their food preference and habitats will vary as well. Identification is also crucial so that the correct control methods are taken. Some ants take better to baits whereas others will not be attracted to baits and specific ant species like the carpenter ant may need injections of insecticide into the wood.
Preventative methods may be the most effective in that it eliminates chances for ant infestations to begin. Some preventative measures are:
- Correct moisture problems – roof leaks, plumbing leaks, and etc. – these moisture problems will potentially enlarge cracks and crevices which means there are new entryways for ants
- Remove tree limbs or branches of trees and bushes so that they are away from the exterior walls. These serve as bridges to your structure and so removal of these bridges may keep them from entering the home.
- Seal openings, cracks and crevices that are on the foundation of the structure, especially in places where utility pipes and wires will enter the building from the outside.
- Depending on the ant species, sanitation may be the best preventative measure. Most ants forage indoors in search of food or a water source. Remove food and store food in safe containers. Keep food areas clean and without crumbs.
Ant infestation control is virtually a 5-step process.
1. Identification – Identification of the ant species is crucial so that you may take the correct control methods to treat ant infestations.
2.Location – Nest locations of the ants are often times more crucial than not. At least, you should determine whether the ants are coming from outside or if they are nesting indoors and under the structure. Ants travel in trails to and from the food source, therefore, most of the time, nests can be found by following the trail of ants back from the food source. After the nest or the nests are located, direct application for most ant colonies will eliminate the source of shelter and reproduction. You can use aerosol sprays, liquid insecticides, or dust products, depending on the location of the nests.
3. Bait Treatment – Bait treatment may be the most effective way of any control for most species of ants. Keep in mind that there are some species of ants that do not react to baits nor are they attracted to them. However, for most house ant species – i.e. small black ants, pharoah ants, fire ants, etc – baits are the preferred method of treatment. The reason why baiting systems are effective is that there is a sharing system that is implanted when ants will bring the baits back to the colony. Therefore baits target the entire colony whereas other insecticides may only be a contact kill for the on-sight pest. There are several different types of baiting systems that people can use for most ant species.
- Ant Bait Stations (DUPONT ADVION ANT BAIT STATION ARENA, MAXFORCE FC ANT BAIT STATIONS): Bait stations may be the safest and easiest baiting system to use. Bait stations have a premade bait made inside the station. The stations are simply placed in areas of infestation and are safe for use around children and pets because they are virtually tamper proof. Bait stations are not only used as bait treatment but can be used for monitoring ant infestations. Bait stations should be replaced continuously for generally about three weeks until there is no ant activity that is noted.
- Ant Bait Gel (Alpine Ant Gel Bait, MAXFORCE ANT BAIT GEL): Gels are actually the newest baiting system that’s been introduced to the industry. They are effective in that they can be placed in areas that are hard to reach or in small areas where conventional baits or bait stations cannot go. Although they are preferably used indoors, they can be used outdoors as well. However, keep in mind that gels can become ineffective in that they are broken down by sunlight, heat, cold temperatures, rain, etc. Place pea-sized amounts of gel baits should be placed about 2-3 times every 10 linear feet. In many cases, gel baits are the best used when the treatment is combined with stations or granular baits. Use stations in areas of infestations and then apply gel baits in hard to reach places like in cracks and crevices. The gel baits are continuously replaced until there is no noted ant activity.
- Granular Ant Bait & Fine Granular Bait (INTICE GRANULAR BAIT,ADVANCE 375A SELECT GRANULAR ANT BAIT, NIBAN GRANULAR BAIT) There are granular insecticides that are contact kill insecticides and must be irrigated to become effective; however, granular baits are not contact kill insecticides nor can they be watered. In fact, waters granular baits will get rid of its effectiveness. Typically, granular ant baits are used as broadcast treatment outdoors in specific areas or is primarily scattered around in areas like attics or crawl spaces around the home. Fine Granular Baits work virtually the same way. The difference is that the fine granular baits are manufactured in smaller granules. Fine granular baits are used to treat smaller areas like crack and crevices or smaller entry points. Also, smaller granules are easier to carry back and more attractive to smaller species of ants.
- Liquid Ant Baits (GOURMET LIQUID ANT BAIT): Liquid ant baits have been in the industry for a long time. Its effective in treating very large ant infestations and is good to use for large agricultural fields. As far as Gourmet Liquid Ant Bait is concerned, it is a bait that is accepted by a large variety of ant species and even roaches. It’s also an effective add-on when you are dealing with sugar ants because it targets sugar eating ants as well as protein feeding ants.
4. Perimeter Barrier Treatment and/or Broadcast Treatment - Both perimeter and broadcast treatments are outdoor treatments. Broadcast treatments are used for large turf areas or landscape areas with the use of liquid insecticides, granule insecticides, or a baiting system.
- Broadcast Treatment: With broadcast treatment, whether it be a liquid insecticide or a granule insecticide that is activated after irrigation, the entire landscape is treated. Liquid insecticides ( FENVASTAR ECO CAP, TERMIDOR SC) are diluted with water and sprayed using a hand held sprayer (CHAPIN 1 GALLON SPRAYER). Granule insecticides ( TALSTAR EZ, BIFEN GRANULAR) are spread over the landscape with a spreader (HANDLE SPREADER) and is activated after irrigation. Unlike granular baits that lose its effectiveness upon coming in contact with water, granular insecticides that have a contact kill must be irrigated for the insecticide to become effective. Generally, liquid insecticides, granules, and baits are not used altogether.
- Barrier treatment is applying insecticide in zones around the perimeter which is why it’s also known as perimeter treatment. This treatment method is generally a preventative treatment to keep pests from entering the structure. Barrier zones are made with liquid insecticide. Around the perimeter of the structure, liquid insecticide is sprayed 2-3 feet up the structure and 6-8 feet out from the structure. Liquid insecticides have about a 3-4 month residual and so barrier treatment should be repeated as necessary every 3-4 months.
5. Non-chemical Control - Non-chemical control of ant infestations are primarily preventative methods. These include removal of ant attractants like a food source and eliminating opportunities for infestations to occur like sealing cracks around the structure.