Ant Control Sydney – How to get rid of ants
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Most ant species are highly developed social insects that live in permanent nests, which depending on the species, may construct their colonies in soil in your yard areas, within timbers (often mistaken for termites by the layperson), underneath pavers on your driveway, inside your residential walls or found concealed under insulation in your roof void.
Pest ant species may have colonies made up of one nest (“monodomous” or “single nest”) or many nests (“polydomous” or “multi nest”) and travel over large distances to get to your home in search of food. Sometimes a colony may consist of hundreds of nests over a large area, a so-called “super colony”. Even the cleanest of homes can provide a ready food source for ants which once found can invade in large numbers, such that professional help is required.
“Often seen as more of a nuisance than a threat, ants are often disregarded even though they can be easily dealt with when you have the advice of a professional.” – Bruce Gow
Ants Inside Tree Bark
There are various types of ants that are often classified as follows:
Protein and Oil Feeding Ants
Protein Feeding Ant Articles (coming soon)
Ant Pest Control Methods
Identification of the particular species of ant is vital to implementing a control program.
Some DYI products help reduce populations, but may end up making control much more difficult in the long term. The last thing that you would want to do is to repel them by the application of a toxic chemical bought at the local store and make your problem worse and dangerous for your family. Killing lots of ants will not necessarily eliminate the colony since you need to kill the queen/s.
Biology & Colony Structure
An ant nest is the physical location where some or all of the ants return after foraging. Typically this is also the location where the eggs, larvae and reproductive ants are also located.
Pest Management Professionals (PMP’s) have at their access a variety of baits, insect growth regulators, and non-repellent materials, which all may be used together in IPM (Integrated Pest Management) to control or even totally eliminate any ant infestation.
In most situations, ant baits should be the product of choice to control ants. For effective ant control it is often necessary to destroy the whole colony and to do this it is necessary to kill the queen/s. At A1 we provide extra baits to feed the colony after we leave to avoid you paying for additional treatments. Baits tap into the the natural behaviour of ants, allowing the potential for complete control with the need to locate the nest. By placing the bait near foraging trails, ants can quickly find the food and take it back to the nest.
When ants take the bait back to the nest, they share the food with other members of the colony through trophallaxis. As well as having an attractive bait matrix, successful baits need to utilise a delayed action insecticide. This allows the bait to be spread throughout the colony before it starts to affect the ants, ensuring the bait has been passed onto the queen/s and larvae before they can react to any ill effect.
Ant baits come in a range of formats; liquid, gel, granule or solid. Typically, the sugar based baits are liquids or gels and the protein and oil baits are granules or solid. The choice of bait depends on the species present, the location (inside/outside) and any safety considerations.
Key Tips for Successful Baiting
- Choose the correct bait based on the food preference for the species present
- Check that the species will take the proposed bait before carrying out a complete treatment
- Ensure enough bait is placed for the estimated size of the colony (insufficient amounts will lead to incomplete control)
- If all the bait has been taken within 24 hours, apply additional bait
- Depending on the species, additional applications may be necessary (especially for multi-nest/ multi-queen colonies)
- For multi-nest colonies, consider the use of non-repellent sprays, especially if the aim is to exclude the ants from buildings
Try not to leave washing up overnight as it attracts ants.
White-footed house ant
Identification: the worker of the White-footed house ant is around 2.7mm in length, and black in colour with yellow feet.
Biology: White-footed house ants are known to be voracious breeders and a single nest may contain several million workers and several queens.
Nesting sites: their nests are normally found to the exterior of homes in soil or in trees. Inside buildings they are found in wall cavities, fireplaces, roof voids, and skirting boards.
Odorous House Ant
How to identify: the size of the Odorous House ant is around two to three millimetres; of uniform black to brown in colour and if crushed, has a distinct rotten odour, like rancid butter.
Biology: These colonies may contain around ten thousand or upwards ants that are able to establish sub nests or subsidiary colonies. They can mix with different colonies of their own species.
Nesting sites: They construct their nests more likely in the soil of your yards, at the crown of trees, and interior areas. They will nest around damp areas below buildings and inside walls. Leaks from plumbing, under shower recesses, via broken guttering & roof tiles.
Identification: The workers are all the same size about 1.6 mm long. They are yellow or honey-coloured. They have 12-segmented antennae with 3-segmented club.
Nesting sites: They commonly build their nests in walls, behind skirting boards, and in folds of clothes.
It’s not common to find bulldog ant (or bull ant) inside buildings; they are located mostly in bushy areas where they can have their nest in soil near wood logs or under rocks with extensive tunnel system. When the nest gets disturbed the bull ants get very aggressive, they will all come out of the nest as a massive force to attack whatever is taking their peace.
Identification: Carpenter ants vary in colour from black to dark brown to an brownish orange. The workers are 6 to 12 mm in length.
Biology: Carpenter ants are often confused with termites by the general public and enter homes with damp timbers to establish their nests. They rarely do any damage to timbers, but excavate rotting timbers with precision (that’s how they got their name as “carpenter” ants). The colonies of some species of Carpenter ants, may exceed 100,000 workers, with multiple queens and satellite nesting sites. Most species are smaller and require many years to reach maturity. They can travel long distances in search of food.
Identification: They are uniformly dull brown coloured. Workers are all the same size, about 2 to 3 mm long. Thorax uneven in shape when viewed from side. They emit musty odour when crushed.
Effective control of ants often relies on a knowledge of their foraging and nesting habits. At the broad level, a knowledge of the nesting habits and feeding habits of important pest species can be helpful. More specifically, where a given infestation is being treated, a thorough survey and inspection should be carried out. Whereas locating an ant nest is not always possible, every effort should be made to locate the nest. Not only can it make the control easier, but it allows for confirmation of colony elimination after a treatment. Each species has typical nesting places, which narrow down the places to look. However, following food-carrying ants on active foraging trails provides the best method of nest location. Knowing whether they are nesting outside or inside can also have an impact on the treatment. For example, there is little use in carrying out an exterior perimeter treatment if the nest is only inside the building. Direct treatment of the nest, where possible, can provide the most effective, longer-term control. Alternatively, the use of chemical barriers that interfere between the nest and possible food sources is often effective.
Non-chemical prevention and control.
The state of hygiene and sanitation in and around buildings influences the likelihood of infestation by scavenging ants. They love to visit us indoors to search for food, water and shelter, so minimisation of left over food particulars and crumbs should be your goal. On the same token, water should be restricted and any drops of spilled water should be immediately cleaned up. Crockery and cutlery should not be left on the benches or tables after use and should be washed and stored away ASAP. Exterior areas should likewise be restricted of food and water (e.g. pet feeding bowls should be cleaned after use and feeding should take place well away from your home. Used drink bottles & cans should be placed in lockable bins away from your house). Consider growing pest deterring plants such as the pyrethrins.
The effective use of chemicals to control ants relies on a thorough inspection should attempt to locate nesting sites, feeding sites and the routes of travel between them. Care should be taken when making assumptions about nest location. For example, suppose that ants are trailing under skirting and into a wall void. If a spot treatment to the wall void is carried out, on the assumption that the nesting site lies route if they are, in fact, nesting elsewhere and merely passing through that particular wall void. Once the exact or approximate location of the nest(s) is established, control procedures may involve:
1. The direct treatment of the nesting site. This may be accomplished by the application of dusts, residual surface sprays or space-spray type system where nests are located within the confines of wall voids and the like. Such direct treatment may require drilling or other modifications for access.
2. The formation of residual barriers between nest and food sources. Sometimes it is not practical to treat nesting sites directly. If this is the case, we may apply dusts or surface sprays to those areas & any cracks & crevices. As ants can be repelled by certain insecticides, and as they can be most resourceful in finding new routes to a food source, it is important that the barrier treatment be a comprehensive one that, within the constrains of safe practice, attempts to isolate the nesting site from food sources.
The deployment of baits
In broad terms, chemical treatments restricted to the inside of premises may achieve good control if all nesting sites are located outdoors as well, interior treatments alone may be very limited in their effectiveness. Some types of insecticide formulations and methods of application for ant control are summarised as follows:
Surface sprays – In ant control, surface sprays in the form of emulsifiable concentrates, wettable powders, suspension concentrates and foams are foams are widely used. Such treatments may involve treating outdoor nesting sites and/or spraying surfaces over which the ants travel. These may include cracks in paths, wall-path junctions, points of entry such as window stills and door jambs, and wall voids. Ants generally trail along defined architectural lines such as expansion joints, pipe, joints in masonry or edges of paths. Indoors, areas serving as traveling routes might be treated. These may include the bases of skirtings behind kitchen equipment, window and door frameworks, corners among cupboards and benches, and various cracks and crevices. When used effectively, these chemicals, backed up by sound sanitation and hygiene practice, should give suitably long-term protection.
Space sprays – Insecticides applied as space sprays have limited application in ant control procedures. Where the method of application has facility for crack and crevice treatment, this may prove useful for the direct treatment of nesting sites that are reasonably confined (e.g. in brick cavity walls) – provided that safety implications are taken into account.
Dusts – Insecticidal dust formulations can be useful in ant control. They may be applied directly into nesting sites (where known) or lightly on surfaces over which the ants travel. Dusts can be particularly appropriate in the treatment of sensitive areas such as electrical switch boards, equipment and wall and roof voids.
Baits – Insecticidal baits are widely used in situations where nest location and treatment is difficult or impossible, or where insecticides in the form of sprays or dusts are not appropriate or allowed. The baiting approach usually relies on the transference of insecticidal baits back to the nest, where all the individuals, including the reproductive female(s), will eventually consume the poison in sufficient quantity yo cause death. Baits are very effective in the control of a variety of ant species. Competition from other food sources is a common hindrance to the effectiveness of baiting. In placing baits, the safety of children and pets should be considered. In general, ants may prefer either carbohydrates, fats or oils, but some may be attracted to two or even three of these food groups.
In summary, ant control often relies on:
1. A thorough inspection and survey/analysis of activity patterns.
2. Direct treatment of nests where possible.
3. Formation of insecticidal barriers between nests and food sources and/or the placement of baits in appropriate locations.
4. The adoption of high levels of sanitation and hygiene.
Ants in dry areas
Even the cleanest home can have issues with ants. Ants seek two things in a house; food and water and as such, are attracted to bathrooms and toilets.
They’ll soon track inside to water or syrups in kitchens and as many pest control professionals would attest, even spotless cupboards can play host to ants by the hundred.
As such, it is a good idea to advise clients to keep sugars, syrups or anything else which attracts ant in airtight containers, or in the refrigerator.
Similarly, pet bowls are an attractant to ants, so it is often a good idea to create a moat of water around these bowls so the ants are unable to cross the water to get to the food.
The downside is, however, the water particularly if left for a day or two, could bring mosquitoes, so ensure that the water is always fresh.
Pet bowls are best placed outside the home, with the pet being fed only enough for it to eat it as one meal and not leave leftovers.
It is advised to keep your kitchen clean with lemon or vinegar, because acidic things repulse ants. Ants leave a chemical trail behind them when they find food or water to let others know where to go; by wiping the any trail with something acid, the chain will break.
A line of baby powder, chalk or baking powder can also act as a deterrent to ants, but it will only be a stop-gap band aid remedy, as killing off the nest is the only sure way to rid a home of the pesky creatures.
Nests can hold tens of thousands of ants and some homes may host multiple nests. Ants are particularly busy in hot dry weather. If the ants have nested in a wall cavity it might take multiple visits to rid the home of them.
The takeaway message is that killing off the nest is the only way to rid your home of the pesky creatures and that’s when you need to contact your local pest controller.
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