Ant baits contain either carbohydrates (e.g., sugars), proteins, or oils, or some combination of these as attractants along with an active ingredient (toxicant). Different attractants are more effective against different species of ants and at different times of the year. |
Baits are insecticides mixed with materials that attract worker ants looking for food. They are a key tool for managing ants and the only type of insecticide recommended in most situations.Bait products must be slow-acting so that the foraging ants have time to make their way back to the nest and feed other members of the colony before they are killed. When properly used, baits are more effective and safer than sprays.
Offering a small quantity of each kind of bait and observing which one the ants prefer is a good way to determine what to use.
Sweet-Loving Ants.The easiest ants to control are sweet-loving ants. You can use jelly to increase the ant foraging behavior and make the toxic bait more effective. Apply a ribbon of jelly (1-1/2" x 1/4") to masking tape in the areas where you have seen the offending ants, especially around water sources and window ledge. Masking tape works great because it stays in place and is easy to remove and discard later. Experts say that mint or mint apple jelly seems to be the most attractive to foraging sugar ants. A plastic squeeze bottle with a pointed tip makes a convenient applicator.
Sweet-loving ants should begin feeding on the jelly within a couple hours after bait placement. These "survey stations" can be used to pinpoint areas that should be baited. Experts say to use one survey station for each 50 square feet of living space and each 15-20 feet around the house. This can mean lots of jelly and masking tape; however, later you wil be able to use the toxic bait more efficiently and save time and money in the long run.
About two hours after setting out the jelly stations, you should count the number of ants foraging at each station. If there are more than 10 ants feeding at the station, the toxic bait should be placed at the active site. If there is tape with no feeding ants, the masking tape with jelly ribbon is discarded. The most successful baits are those that contain a slow-acting stomach poison so the foraging ant workers will take the bait back to the queen. We recommend baits with boric acid or hydramethylnon as their active ingredient.
Grease and Protein-Loving Ants. Big-headed ants, little black ants and pavement ants prefer grease and protein; in addition, they will also feed on fruit juices. They respond best to protein/grease baits.
A protein/grease bait recipe from Field Guide for the Management of Structure Infesting Ants is:
* 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) peanut butter * 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) * honey * 3/4 teaspoon boric acid
Carpenter Ants. Carpenter ants will eat sweets; they also eat a wide variety of other food. Some baits are registered for carpenter ant control; however, they do not work as well as on other ant species.
Ant Species Controlled by Baits:
* Argentine ants (sweet bait) * Big-headed ants (sweet and grease bait) * Little black ants (sweet and grease baits) * Pavement ants (sweet and grease baits) * Pharaoh ants (use hydramethylnon bait) * Odorous house ants (sweet bait) * Small honey ants (sweet bait)
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