Ant bait gel

How Do Ant Baits Work?

Ants are annoying for homeowners and businesses! Whether they are invading your kitchen, digging up dirt between pavers or infesting lawns, it can be difficult to get rid of ants.

The reason most DIY attempts at ant control fail, is that homeowners don’t have the necessary in-depth knowledge of ant behaviour to design the correct treatment program. In addition, unlike pest professionals, they cannot access the necessary ant control products to deliver effective, long-term ant control.

In particular, it is the range of ant baits that pest professionals can access, which are integral to designing a successful ant treatment.

Here’s more information on how ant baits work and how they help pest professionals deliver successful ant control programs…

Understanding Ant Behaviour

Before discussing how ant baits work, it is important to point out that the success in any ant treatment is to correctly identify the species concerned and to have an in-depth knowledge of its likely nest location, colony structure and foraging behaviour.

Knowing the details of the colony structure is important, as it provides information about the likely number of queen ants in the nest. To provide lasting protection, it’s important to kill all the queens in the nest, otherwise the nest will recover after treatment and the problem will return.

With regard to foraging behaviour, it is important to have a knowledge of the food preferences of the different ant species. When it comes to ant baits, choosing an ant bait that is attractive to the species present is critical to success. More on this later.

The reason ant baits can be very effective in eliminating nests is that they tap into the ants’ natural foraging and feeding behaviours. Ants will foraging a long way from the nest.  The foraging ants will feed at the foraging site and also transport food back to the nest along foraging trails. There’s no need to locate the nest, the bait simply has to be place where the ants are activity foraging.

The second important ant behaviour is that they share food between nestmates, in a process called trophallaxis. This ensures that if bait gets taken back to the nest it can be spread within the colony and importantly, fed to the queen.

What’s in an ant bait?

Ant baits consist of two primary components: the food attractant and the insecticide. Whilst most ant baits try to appeal to a broad range of ant species, no single ant bait is attractive to all species. As such, different ant baits have different food attractants to appeal to sugar feeding, protein feeding or oil feeding ants. One of the skills of a pest professional is selecting the best ant bait for the situation.

There are also different insecticides included in the different ant bait products, but they are all slow acting. This is a good thing! This allows the ant bait to get taken back to the nest and spread amongst the nest mates before it takes effect and they realise something is wrong.

Different types of ant baits

As well as different food components, ant baits come in different formats – liquids, gels and granules. Generally speaking the granular ant baits are used more frequently outdoors when a large area needs to be treated, with gels and liquids are more commonly used indoors. However, choosing a bait that is attractive to the species present, it the most important criteria.

Ant bait gel
Ant Gel Bait
Granular ant bait
Granular ant bait

How long do ant baits take to work?

Ant baits can significantly impact the population within 24 hours and eliminate smaller colonies within 3 days. For larger colonies it may take 1-2 weeks. The critical element in success is ensure that enough bait is applied for the size of the nest – you want enough bait to go around all the ants in the colony. If insufficient bait is applied initially (it can be tricky to estimate the size of the nest), then a second application may be required.

There are also a number of ant species, so call “invasive ants”, that are not native to Australia. These species have multiple queens in a nest and multiple nests, all part of an inter-connected super-colony, which can take over whole neighbourhoods. For such species it is not possible to eliminate the whole colony, so it becomes a question of suppressing the ant numbers rather than eliminating the colony. This often achieved by using a combination of baits and sprays.

Combining ant baits and ant sprays

In using ant baits and sprays in combination, it is important to use specialised ant sprays, which are non-repellent. This has two benefits, firstly it doesn’t repel the ants from areas where you want them to feed on baits and secondly, it means the ants walk across the treated surface picking up the insecticide on their bodies. This then gets transferred to their nest mates, magnifying its effect.

As you can see, achieving successful ant control can be quite tricky! So don’t waste your money at the hardware store, give the experts at Rebel Pest Professionals a call.

Find out more about Rebel Pest Professionals ant control treatments.

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