Odorous House Ant Bait
Ants get their food by sending out scouts to find it. Scientists call the ants that search for food foragers. When the foragers find food, they take a sample back to the nest. They mark the trail so they can find their way back to the food. When they get to the nest, the foragers recruit more ants to help carry the rest of the food back to the nest.
When the foragers have brought the food to the nest, they share it with the rest of the ants in the colony. Adult ants can only swallow liquid food. If the foragers find solid food, they feed it to the larvae. The larvae convert the solid food to liquid then the foragers take it back. The foragers can share the liquefied food with the rest of the colony. Most adult ants share food from mouth-to-mouth.
When scientists learned how ants get food, they realized that it could be used to control ants. Scientists thought it would be possible to give the ants a food substance that had an insecticide mixed in it. After some testing, they found that they could make these products in the form of solid pellets, gels, and liquids.
Odorous house ants will readily take liquid bait. The liquid contains a sweetener so it is attractive to the ants. The foragers do not die on the trail back to the nest. However, there is enough active ingredient to kill all of the ants that get a share of the bait. Liquid bait should be placed in a shady area so that it doesn't evaporate. Bait stations should be kept filled with fresh bait as long as the ants are feeding. Pets and wild animals should not have access to the bait station.
Bait that is made in a gel is very effective for controlling odorous house ants. They take the gel back to the nest and share it with the colony. There is usually an applicator for applying the gel into cracks and crevices. Some of the gel formulations are sensitive to heat. If the gel gets too hot, it can become runny. This can discolor or damage surfaces, so users should be careful.
Odorous house ants will also take solid bait pellets. The foragers recruit other workers to help carry the pellets back to the nest. The larvae must liquefy the solid pellets, so this type of bait can be slower acting than liquid or gel formulations.
Bait should be placed near the odorous house ant trails. This ensures that the ants will find the bait. It also makes sure that other types of ants do not steal the bait from the odorous house ants. If the ants are trailing into the house for food, the bait should be placed outside. This will attract the ants to come out of the house.
When the ants begin to take the bait, there will be hundreds of workers at the bait station. It often looks like the ant problem has gotten worse. There is a risk of running out of bait before all of the ants have gotten to eat some. The bait station should be kept full until the ants have stopped feeding.
Treating ants with bait requires patience. It is often necessary to change baits when the ants' food preference changes. Many homeowners find it simpler to have a pest control professional take care of these pests.