By Dr. Chris Keefer, technical services manager for Syngenta
As spring approaches, large-colony ants can quickly invade and take over your customers’ structures. To provide customers peace of mind, it’s important to understand ant biology and how to best control them early in the season before they become problematic.
Ants undergo complete metamorphosis, which includes egg, larva, pupa and adult stages. It can take several weeks to a few months for an ant to develop from an egg to an adult depending on species, temperature and availability of resources. Large-colony ants, such as Argentine ants, can have hundreds, if not thousands, of queens and workers in a single colony. This can be compounded by the fact that colonies sometimes work together for the betterment of the species, which can create a super colony.
If a structure or neighborhood has notorious large-colony ant problems, communicate with your clients about expectations, including the ant life cycle, species biology and factors that make them difficult to control. Conduct a detailed inspection, be proactive and target the ants with precision treatments before the population becomes dense. Residual contact insecticides offer strong results because they control adults and nymphs at the time of treatment.
Tips for inspection and treatment of large-colony ants
- Allow enough time to do a thorough inspection and treatment early in the season
- Interview clients and take notes
- Identify conducive conditions and share them with the client verbally, in written form and with photos
- Always be properly equipped with a hand lens, ID booklet, flashlight and collection container
- Understand ant feeding behavior and how it can change by season
- Inspect shrubs and trees for honeydew-producing insects (HDPs), as large-colony ants will tend HDPs as a food source
- Pull back mulch in flower beds to see if ants are present under the upper layer of soil
- Following the product label, use a liquid insecticide and make applications at high volume but low concentration
o High-volume sprays allow the product to penetrate the mulch to where the ants are hiding
With proper education and knowledge of control efforts, you can provide your customers with extended ant control. For more information, visit SyngentaPMP.com or contact your local Syngenta territory manager.
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