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Why is Bait the Best Way to Control Ants?

By Chris Williams on January 6, 2015.
ant baits destroy colonies

We have tiny black ants that we can’t get rid of. I called an exterminator who said that ant baits are the way to go. I’ve never known anything except spraying for ants. Why are baits supposed to be better? L.C., Rye, NH

Spraying alone will only solve your ant problem temporarily. Pesticide sprays may kill some of the foraging worker ants but will not affect other ants back in the colony. New ants will keep moving in. Unlike spraying, careful baiting can eliminate the entire colony (you’ll read why below).

In addition, some ants are easily repelled by pesticide sprays, causing them to break up the colony into several smaller colonies, making control even more difficult. Baits do not repel ants.

What’s in Ant Baits?

Professional ant baits combine a food ingredient with a slow-acting toxicant. Most ants will eat almost anything, but some prefer sweet foods and some like oily foods and meats. To further complicate things, the same ants may like different foods at different times of the year. A baiting program can take this into consideration. Technicians can switch the type of bait to get the best results.

Professional ant baits are available in several different forms—in sealed plastic bait stations, as gels or pastes, granules or liquids. If you call Colonial, our pest control expert will identify the type of ant pest, inspect for trails and nest sites, and recommend a baiting program suited to your particular situation.

How Do Ant Baits Work?

Worker ants feed on the placed bait and then carry it back to the colony. They leave trails so that other worker ants can find their way to the bait as well. In the colony, the foraging workers share the bait with the larvae, queen, and other workers, eventually killing the queen and eliminating the colony.

There is a Downside

The one complaint that we hear about ant baits is that they don’t work fast enough (see Ant Baits Need Time to Work). There’s a reason for that. If the bait worked too quickly, it would kill the worker ants before they had a chance to take the bait back to the colony. If you can be a little patient, you should start seeing fewer ants about one week after the bait is placed, but with baiting the results will be permanent.

You can improve the effectiveness of an ant baiting program by trying not to repel, scare or disturb the ants while they are foraging on the bait. See For Pesky Ants, Baits are the Better Choice for steps you can take during baiting.

Photo credit: nullboy / IWoman / CC BY-SA

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