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How to Exterminate Indoor and Outdoor Ant Infestation With Ant Baits

June 10, 2021
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Have you ever said, "My house is loaded with ants inside and out. I need a good bait enough to kill them all"? Ants are one of the most common pests both homeowners and renters encounter. These tiny pests can be found both indoors and outside and will survive where they find food and water sources. Some ant species, such as carpenter ant and fire ant, can cause substantial cosmetic and structural damage to your home. Ant control must include proper sanitation in addition to an actual pesticide treatment using a combination of professional-grade outdoor and indoor ant spray and ant bait.

So how can you exterminate indoor and outdoor ant infestations with ant baits? The fastest way to control ants is finding and treating the ant colony. In most cases, pest infestation originates from outside with possible satellite colonies indoors. Ant bait contains insecticides mixed with materials that attract foraging ants looking for food along the ant trail. The ants will carry small portions of the bait back to the ant nest where it’s transferred mouth to mouth to other workers, larvae, and queens to kill the entire colony. When properly used, baits are more effective and a safer ant killer than other ant problem solutions.

What You Need to Know About Ant Baits

Although there are several options you could try when attempting to kill ants indoors and outdoors, the best way to start is to use ant bait. Ant baiting offers an entirely different strategy of the ant extermination method. This ant killer strategy can work with winged ants and ant species such as fire ant, carpenter ant, pavement ant, Argentine ant, ghost ant, sugar ant, and pharaoh ant. Rather than attempting to kill and spray the ants directly with a killing chemical, ant baits use safer materials such as boric acid, a naturally occurring substance, to affect the ants. 

What Is an Ant Bait?

Ant bait is a mixture of ingredients that work together to attract and kill ants. It’s a mixture of a toxic chemical mixed with a food item such as sugar or powder, thus attracting an insect pest. For pests such as ants, the baits only attract the insects when they come into contact with the bait while looking for food. 

Insect baits are available in many different forms. Ant bait can be solid or liquid and can be used in different applications depending on where the ant infestation is located. Granule ant baits are used mostly outdoors, while gels and soft solid materials are commonly used in offices, kitchens, and other indoor areas where ants are active.

How Can Ant Baits Exterminate Ant Infestation?

Ant bait works even when you can’t find the nest, and unlike contact pesticides, bait can wipe out the entire colony by destroying the queen. Worker ants will find the bait station and bring back the bait to the larvae for conversion into edible, liquid food, and then pass the pesticide on to the queen and the rest of the colony. They share the toxicant with other workers and queen tenders, and eventually, after 3 to 4 days, the toxicant reaches the queen and affects reproduction in the colony. However, even if the queen dies, eggs may hatch and larvae may pupate and develop into workers. Eventual control of a large colony may take 1 to 5 months.

Baits have some advantages over other types of insecticides. First, baits can work even when the nest can’t be found or it’s inaccessible for treatment with other chemicals. Second, they pose less of a risk to children and pets by reducing possible contact with any toxic chemical. Third, baits can kill the entire colony whereas most insecticides sprayed on a surface kill only the workers that contact it, and some sprays may actually be repellent. Repellents don’t kill the ants and may only direct them to another food source temporarily.

Types of Ant Baits

Ant poison trap filled with ants

Ant bait can be solid or liquid, and each type can be used for different applications. These are baits that are effective for the Argentine, carpenter, ghost, odorous, pharaoh, and pavement ants when they’re on the sugar and carbohydrate or protein and grease feeding cycles. Different species of ants will be attracted to one or the other type of baits, according to the dietary needs of the ant colony.

1. Solid Ant Baits

Solid ant bait is available in powder or granule form. Solid ant bait works well indoors or outdoors. It can also be applied in the ant trail or placed directly on a suspected ant hill. The usual ingredient for granular baits is boric acid and borax ant killer. Granular baits are more practical for application outdoors, although they’re also convenient for indoor applications. Solid ant bait that’s used far from an ant nest requires foraging ants to carry it back to their nest before consumption and can often be more trouble for the ants than it’s worth. 

2. Liquid and Gel Ant Baits

Ants generally prefer a liquid to a solid because solid bait can’t be digested before transporting it back to the nest. Liquid ant bait allows ants to ingest the bait and carry it back to the nest without having to process it further. That leaves them to immediately distribute it directly to the rest of the colony and the queen. Liquid ant bait will typically be more effective and provide the desired results quicker.

Listed below are some of the most effective liquid ant baits available in the market:

a) Terro Liquid Ant Bait

Terro Liquid Ant Killer is designed for control of sweet-eating ants, including Argentine, ghost, little black, acrobat, pavement, odorous house, crazy, and cornfield ants. Terro liquid ant bait is formulated to quickly attract and kill common household ants.

Borax is the active ingredient in the Terro liquid ant bait. It interferes with the ant's digestive system, slowly killing them. This slow kill is needed to allow time for the foraging ants to make several round trips to the bait and deliver enough back to the nest to eliminate the entire colony. Ant baits containing borax are lethal to ants but have a low toxicity level for animals and humans, making them great for use in homes where children and pets live. Borax makes for a very potent bait, killing ants by disrupting their digestive system.

b) Amdro Liquid Ant Killer

Amdro Liquid Ant Bait is used to kill most common household ants such as crazy ant, odorous house ant, pavement ant, and pharaoh ant.

The active ingredient in this ant killer is hydramethylnon, a chemical compound designed to control insects. It works by enticing the worker ant to ingest the liquid bait and carry it back to the nest to transfer the bait to the queen and colony. This kills the queen and the other ants, causing the colony to collapse.

c) Advion Ant Gel

Advion Ant Bait Gel takes advantage of the natural behavior of ants. Foraging worker ants are attracted to the sweet formula of the bait. After consuming the bait, the foraging ants will return to the nest and share the bait with the rest of the colony, including the queen. By ingesting the active ingredient Indoxacarb, the ants will have their nervous systems disrupted, ultimately ending the ants’ lives and eventually the whole colony.

Advion Ant Bait Gel is a carbohydrate-based gel. Ant feeding cycles can usually be broken into two categories: carbohydrate-feeding (sweet or sugar) ants and protein-feeding (meat, grease, oil) ants. In general, liquid and gel ant baits are sweet or carbohydrate-based.

How to Determine Which Type of Ant Bait Is More Suitable For My Ant Infestation

A heavy ant infestation swarms inside a home.

Offering a small quantity of each kind of bait and observing which one the ants prefer is a good way to determine what to use. Ant colonies also have different nutritional needs at different times of the year or by preference.

Different attractants are more effective against different species of ants and at different times of the year. In the case of Argentine ants, sweet baits are attractive year-round. Protein baits are attractive to Argentine ants primarily in the spring. However, other ant species such as thief ants and pharaoh ants prefer protein or greasy baits year-round. 

There’s some evidence that foraging worker ants tend to specialize in the types of food they acquire and return to the nest. Some worker ants may search out and return only solid food materials to the colony, while other workers may specialize in acquiring liquid foods. To exploit this tendency and possibly increase the speed of control, you may use both liquid ant baits and granular ant baits at the same time. 

The Process of Ant Baiting

1. Prebaiting

Prebaiting, also called survey baiting, not only gives you an idea of what the ants are feeding on, but also helps pinpoint sites of the greatest feeding activity which tells you where to place your toxic baits. A beneficial part of an inspection may be a prebaiting survey that will enable the professional to map foraging trails.

The choice of baits to use for control typically will depend on the food preference of the ant. Another crucial component of the program is good sanitation so that the bait isn’t competing with other food sources. A non-toxic survey bait, such as honey, jelly, peanut butter, and diced crickets or mealworms on white index cards can be placed in various locations both indoors and outdoors. On the inside, locations to prebait include windowsills, electrical outlets, pipes and drains, sinks, countertops, toilets, and other moisture sources. Outside, survey baits can be placed at corners of window sills, at corners of the foundation, around entrances and exits, at the base of trees, outside tree holes, and at incoming and outgoing plumbing and electrical lines. 

Survey baits should be left in place at least 30 minutes to 2 hours to give the ants enough time to discover the baits and recruit enough ants to establish a trail.

2. Baiting Program

After the pre-baiting phase, you should have the right idea of what type of ants are infesting your property and their preferred food. By this time, you should’ve also located some prime feeding sites, ant trails, and maybe even points of entry.

Ant baits are typically installed around the entire perimeter of the building. Depending upon the product, an inspection of the baiting stations should be frequent to ensure effectiveness. In some homes, baits constitute the only form of pest control. Other treatments are supplemented with partial liquid ant bait.

Bait stations should be placed where ants can easily find them, but avoid placing them in areas that are accessible to pets and small children. Place baits near nests, on ant trails beneath plants, or along edges where ants travel. Space them every 10 to 20 feet outside around the foundation and at nest openings, if they can be found. 

Place your toxic baits directly on trails when possible since some ants will not wander off of their trails. Place baits along edges where ants trail such as counter edges, door moldings, wall or floor joints, window frames, and along baseboards. Also place baits near water sources such as sinks, toilets, and potted plants. 

Leave enough amounts of bait in lots of sites. Leave enough bait to last until your next service visit. Remember that toxic bait is food-based and spoiled bait can actually repel ants. Some baits without preservatives will need to be replaced weekly. Once you have discovered the most active feeding sites, concentrate your bait placements in these areas.

Control with baits isn’t immediate and may take several weeks or more to be complete. Discontinue baiting sites that have had no activity since you placed the bait.

Tips for Effective Ant Baiting

1. Do Proper Placement of Ant Bait

Place baits as closely as possible to the ant colony. If an acceptable food source is available close to the colony's location, that food source is likely to be more heavily exploited. 

2. Use Proper Amount of Ant Bait

Not placing enough bait placements is another common reason ant baits might fail in controlling an infestation. Each active foraging trail should be baited because that trail could be from a separate colony, especially in the case of the pharaoh ant. Follow-up inspections are helpful in identifying a new ant trail.

3. Be Sure to Sanitize the Baiting Spot

Baits work best when there are no other food items accessible to the ants. Remove other potential food sources as they may defer the ants to those sources of foods instead of the ant bait. Keep the baited areas clean at all times to keep other pests such as cockroaches, bed bugs, and fruit flies away as well.

4. Check Ant Baits Regularly

The biggest mistake made with ant baits is placing them and forgetting about them until the next scheduled service visit. Ant baits should be checked within one week at least, but sooner may be better for some situations. 

5. Be Patient

Ant trap strategy is slow-acting and doesn’t kill the ants quickly. You should have patience in waiting to exterminate the entire colony of ants infesting your property. 

Read more: A Guide on How to Bait Ants Successfully at Home

Types of Ants to Look Out for in an Indoor and Outdoor Infestation

1. Fire Ant

Beautiful young dark skinned woman looking trough the magnifying glass

Fire ants, which are small and reddish-brown in color, build mounds in the yard that look like piles of loose dirt. This species poses the most immediate threat to humans and pets as their painful sting produces a burning sensation as well as swelling and itching. Those allergic to insect stings must be especially careful since fire ant venom can cause swelling of the throat and trouble breathing.

2. Pavement Ant

Pavement ants are brown or black in color. They commonly swarm over paving tiles in what looks like an epic battle with other pavement ants. Some pavement ants, known as alates or swarmers, have wings and can fly to begin new colonies.

3. Crazy Ant

Crazy ants will typically build their nests outdoors and will travel into homes and buildings foraging for food. They’re typically reddish-brown in color and are approximately 1/8 of an inch in length. Crazy ants will nest in both dry and moist areas; outside they can be found nesting in the soil, in tree cavities, under rocks, under rotten wood, and under buildings.

4. Odorous House Ant

An odorous house ant is a small brown or black ant that nests in walls and under floors. They’re drawn to sugar and are most active in the spring and summer months. Odorous house ants are tiny but fast. They usually travel in lines, but if they’re disturbed or alarmed, they’ll run around erratically, releasing their odor as they run.

Learn more: What Is the Best Bait for Odorous Ants?

Exterminate Ants Professionally With Positive Pest Management

Depending on how severe your ant infestation is at home, a professional service might be needed to ensure that these ants will go away permanently. Our skilled technicians will eradicate your indoor ants and outdoor ants, bees, cockroaches, and termites such as drywood termites and subterranean termites to allow you to once again enjoy both your indoor and outdoor spaces. At Positive Pest Management, we specialize in dealing with complex pest infestations and helping you get life back to normal. Contact us today to schedule your initial check-up.

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