A bait is a toxic substance mixed with some food item as an attractant (such as sugar). Baits are available in many different formulations, from granules that are used mostly outdoors to gels to soft solid materials that are commonly used in kitchens and other areas where ants are active. |
Ant baits have some advantages over other types of insecticides. First, baits can work when the nest cannot be found or it is inaccessible for treating with other chemicals. Second, they pose less of a risk to children and pets by reducing possible contact with any toxic chemical. Third, baits can kill the entire colony whereas most insecticides sprayed on a surface kill onlythe workers that contact it.
Baits are effective only if they are eaten by the ants and not all baits are equally attractive to different ant species. Make sure the bait you use is acceptable to the ants. Place a small amount of bait where you see ants foraging and then watch their reaction for a few minutes. If the ants show no interest in the bait, try a different bait until you find one that they will will readily eat. Once you find a bait that is acceptable to the ants, several other factors determine its effectiveness:
* Proper placement - Bait should be placed in known or suspected areas of ant activity. Be sure that bait is placed out of the reach of children, pets, and wildlife. Never place bait directly on countertops where food is prepared or an area where it will get wet and contaminated or where it may accidentally contaminate water in a sink. * Quantity - Make sure you provide enough bait and that it remains fresh. If the ants carry away all of the bait then they may leave that area and go elsewhere before enough bait is spread within the colony. Large ant colonies may require more than one application of the bait. * Sanitation - Baits work best when there are no other food sources accessible by the ants. Keep the area clean so the ants are not "distracted" from locating and feeding on the bait. * Durability - baits will eventually become unacceptable if they are exposed to high temperatures, rain and sunlight. Check baited areas for signs of ant feeding and replace baits that are no longer acceptable to the ants.
Patience is important to successful baiting. Most ant baits are slow-acting. Therefore, you may continue to see ants for a week or more after baiting. It is important that the ants are able to return to the nest with the bait so it can be fed to other members of their colony. Do not disturb or kill the ants with insect sprays or other means. Spraying the ants (or the area baited) will contaminate the bait and other ants will avoid it. If you are baiting indoors and do not wish to see ants, try placing the bait in less obvious areas (but where you see some ant activity) such as under/behind appliances, sinks, etc.
Ant Baits Need Time to Work
Most people don't realize that baits work slowly. We expect an immediate response when we apply insecticides, but baits are not like sprays. Actually, it's a good thing that baits don't kill the ants right away. A good bait is one that doesn't kill the ants until they have had time to feed on it and carry it back to the colony. In the colony, the bait is shared with ant larvae, other workers, and the queen, eventually eliminating the colony. If the worker ants died from the bait before returning to the colony, the colony wouldn't be destroyed. It also takes some time for the bait to be passed around to every ant in the colony.
It usually takes several days to start seeing results from most ant baits. If you think about it, you'll probably realize that you are seeing fewer ants than you used to. Be patient. Baiting is usually a better option than spraying insecticide because, while spraying will kill the foraging ants, it does not affect the rest of the colony and other ants from the colony will soon be back in your home.
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