How Ant Baits Work
Ant Baits Used by Professionals
How to Properly Use Baits for Fireants, Ants
Over the years, there have been numerous attempts to
develop the perfect fireant bait and every year the industry gets closer to its
goal. Any bait designed to kill fireants (or other ant pests) must contain the
perfect mixture of a carrier, attractants and a killing agent or insecticide. This
killing agent cannot be too strong. If the worker ants detect an insecticide in
their food (bait) the food will be rejected by the entire colony. This detection
could happen at different "check points" in the processing of an ant colony's
food. Worker ants cannot eat solid foods (debunking the myth of Kill Ants with
Grits) but they can drink liquids and carry solids back to the ant colony nursery.
Ant larvae can digest solids. These solids are given back to workers (by
regurgitating liquids) who (in turn) feed 10 or more other workers, who feed other workers
-- eventually reaching the queen (or queens) and their workers. If a dangerous
material (poisons, pesticides, etc.) are detected early enough in this chain of colony
digestion of food, the contaminated food is earmarked by the entire colony. If
"food source A" is found to be dangerous, the alarm goes out through the entire
colony: "Do not eat food source A!" In this manner, the colony is
As you can see, there is a delicate balance of insecticide and proper attractants in an
ant bait. Too much insecticide will be rejected; too little insecticide will not be
strong enough to penetrate to the inner workings of the ant colony.
There are several professional ant baits being used by pest
control operators, golf courses and homeowners to combat fire ants. There are other
baits which target carpenter ants which are not listed or
discussed in this article.
The most popular (click on links for detailed information on each product):
Ascend Fire Ant Bait Extinguish
Fire Ant Bait
Maxforce Fireant Bait Maxforce Granular Bait Niban
Each fireant bait has its advantages, whether it be its mode of action, areas where it may
be used or simply affordability for each situation. This section summarizes each ant
Ascend Fire Ant Bait is a bait preferred by
those who need to broadcast bait over a large area but are on a more limited budget.
When properly broadcasting a large area for control or prevention of ants, following label
instructions might be quite expensive when covering several acres.
Extinguish Fire Ant Bait is a bait that
may be used in graze lands and pastures. Its active ingredient (Methoprene) is not
actually an insecticide, but an IGR which inhibits the reproduction of the queen and
growth of immature ants, thus breaking the life cycle of the ant colony. This is a
very slow acting product that can take 6 weeks to effectively destroy a colony.
Maxforce Fireant Bait is
one of the newest from the Maxforce Baits product line, targeting fire ants. This
product contains the same active ingredient as similar Maxforce products but at a much
Maxforce Granular Bait has been a
strong performer for several areas. It targets ants, fire
ants, crickets and roaches.
Maxforce FG is a variant (containing smaller granular size) that is easily injected into
wall voids for house cricket and pharaoh
Niban Granular Bait is a honey and boric
acid bait that is labeled for killing ants, crickets,
roaches and silverfish.
Although it is not used extensively for outdoor fire ant elimination, Niban and Niban FG
are both used indoors by many people for controlling targeted pests.
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Proper Use of Fire Ant Bait
Spot Treating Mounds
Broadcasting Infested Areas with Bait
Baiting for ants of any kind (at least for those ants that will readily accept your
bait) has distinct advantages: the ants do all the work and very little active ingredient
is introduced into the environment. There are also disadvantages: cost of covering
large areas, stability of material (rain can be an enemy) and timing of application.
The first mistake most people make (when using a fire ant bait, or
other ant bait) is directly treating the mounds with the material. Although some
bait labels will encourage you to apply their bait directly to the mound, we have found
many ant control programs (large and small) that fail because of this method. If the
size of your infested property prohibits proper broadcasting, you can achieve control by
spot treating in the proper manner: apply bait around each individual mound where the
material is easily found by the worker ants. It also helps to sprinkle ant bait in
areas where fire ants are seen foraging for food.
Never "water in" ant baits. Many people confuse insecticide granules (used
for broadcasting) and granular baits. Insecticide granules need water to release the
active ingredient into the soil. Granular ant baits work best when applied at least
2 days before anticipated rainfall or irrigation. Many labels state that certain
baits will hold up to normal rainfall but this is not always accurate. For best
results, keep your granular bait dry for at least a couple of days to insure the ants will
accept your bait readily.
Most outdoor ant baits should be broadcast over entire area
(in the case of numerous mounds, severe imported fire ant infestations) in the spring and
fall of the first two years. In summer months, spot treat individual mounds that
might have survived the initial application or are the result of new colonies moving into
the territory. When this method is employed, fewer mounds will be found on the
property from year to year. The most popular baits used by professionals (when
broadcasting an acre or more) are Ascend Fire Ant Bait, Maxforce Fire Ant Killer Granular Bait and Extinguish Fire Ant Bait. Fireant infestations located in
pastures or graze lands should be treated with Extinguish.
This product works very slow but is safe for cattle, horses, goats or other grazing
Many baits require one pound of bait per acre. Read the label of your bait and
follow the application rates when broadcasting large areas.
Much fire ant bait research is done in the above mentioned manner. In certain South
American countries, fire ants are found in extremely large populations and are a constant
danger to the people of small villages and farms. Researchers have found that by
broadcasting baits over large areas they are able to greatly reduce the ant population and
help create a safer environment for the people of the area.
Carpenter Ant Bait
Fireant Bait Ant
Baits Maxforce Baits