5 Questions with Ryan Neff

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If general exterior pest treatments are not keeping ants out of a structure, identification is critical, MGK's Ryan Neff reminds. Some ants require soil contact, while others nest both inside and outside of a structure.

July 5, 2022

Ryan Neff, West Coast Technical Field Specialist
1. How important is identification when treating problematic ant accounts?

If general exterior pest treatments are not keeping ants out of a structure, identification is critical. Some ants require soil contact, while others nest both inside and outside of a structure. While some ants respond well to sugar baits, other ants seem to prefer granular baits. For example, pharaoh ants and certain thief ant species look very similar but require vastly different treatments.

2. What is the most difficult ant to control?

While this is a subjective question, I would go with tawny crazy ants. In regions where they occur, they will often blanket a landscape. While trailing ants can be observed, many move through the environment in an apparently disorganized, erratic manner. In bad infestations, the total number of ants present requires using large volumes of material, subsequently increasing both labor and material costs. This is especially true of houses and commercial buildings surrounded by undeveloped land throughout the Southeast.

3. What active ingredients work best for ants?

For the sake of brevity, I’ll focus on liquid residual sprays. If you’re dealing with ants trailing indoors from the exterior, sometimes a fast-acting pyrethroid will keep ants outside. For larger populations, slower-acting active ingredients, like neonicotinoids or phenylpyrazoles, will allow more ants to contact the treated area, resulting in an increased population reduction.

4. Should I bait inside or outside?

I generally advise against baiting inside. Not to say there aren’t accounts that require interior baiting or species where interior residual sprays and baits are the only viable option, but often the problem is coming from the exterior landscape. If you bait inside, you continue to attract them indoors. By baiting outside, you reduce the distance needed to move bait back into colonies, and lure ants back outside. After all, they are usually going inside in search of food and water.

5. What is the best way to approach problematic Argentine ant accounts?

Living in California, this is the question I am asked more than any other. If your standard service fails to keep Argentine ants out of a structure, it’s often because (a) the ant population is incredibly high, or (b) the ants have discovered a discreet entry point. Given that Argentine ants nest almost exclusively outdoors, I suggest using a combination of non-repellent residual sprays to treat off-structure trails and exterior baiting.