Discovering ants in your home can be frustrating and disheartening. Even the cleanest kitchens can sometimes attract these determined invaders. When deciding how to eradicate these pests, ant traps that contain a bait substance are a commonly advised solution. But are they the best way to handle an infestation in your home?
First, it is helpful to understand how ant baits work. According to information provided by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resource program, ‟Ant baits contain insecticides mixed with materials that attract worker ants looking for food.”
The term “ant traps” can be misleading because many people expect ants to enter the traps and never exit. However, ant traps do not work in this way. In fact, the goal is for the ants to consume the bait inside the trap and then return to their nest.
The University of California explains the process as follows: “Ants are attracted to the bait and recruit other workers to it. Workers carry small portions of the bait back to the nest where it is transferred mouth to mouth to other workers, larvae, and queens to kill the entire colony. Bait products must be slow-acting so that the foraging ants have time to make their way back to the nest and feed other members of the colony before they are killed.”
Professor Barb Ogg at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln suggests that ant baits can be the most effective way to rid your home of ants. “For many ant species, baits are the best management tactic because the entire colony is destroyed. This results in a more permanent solution to their ant problem.”
Unfortunately, according to Ogg, this type of ant trap does not work on all ants. “Not all ant species can be controlled by baits and some baits work better than others. In general, ants that eat a wide variety of foods will be less affected by baits because the bait will comprise a smaller proportion of their food.”
Because identifying the types of ants you are dealing with can be a challenge, and different methods are required to manage different ant species, it is recommended that you contact a pest management professional. Carpenter ant bait, for example, may be more or less effective than fire ant bait. It is likely that the ingredients within the bait will also be different.
“Ant management requires diligent efforts and the combined use of mechanical, cultural, sanitation, and often chemical control methods,” the resource center at the University of California states. It recommends hiring a certified professional. “These professionals have access to more effective materials and application equipment that can prevent contamination of the environment.” Call Terminix® for your free pest evaluation and don’t just bait the ants, get rid of them.