The Pest Ant Round Up

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The State of the Ant Control Market survey asked PMPs to identify problematic ants and those that caused the largest percentage of service calls in 2019. In follow-up interviews, PMPs shared how some of these ants are impacting their markets and offered tips for control.

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May 1, 2020

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Carpenter Ant

80% considered it problematic

20% said it made up the largest percentage of service calls in 2019

Impact: “Carpenter ants are the predominant species that we deal with,” said Charles Fyfe, Envirocare Pest Control, Gardiner, Maine. Homeowners realize how serious the problem can be. His service starts at $350 and increases depending on home size, construction and extent of infestation.

Seek out nests: These ants appear “anyplace moisture can get into,” Fyfe said. Sill plate areas, like where the deck attaches to the house; corner posts; eaves where ice dams occurred. Foragers and satellite nests are most commonly found indoors with the main colony located outside.

Joseph Berger | Bugwood.org

Pavement Ant

58% considered it problematic

8% said it made up the largest percentage of service calls in 2019

Impact: “Pavement ant is number one” for Tom Saccomanno, Exact Pest Solutions, Galena, Ill. “What’s been a little challenging the last couple years is we’re getting more and more calls for (pavement) ants in the winter.”

Treatment: Know what type of bait matrix — sugar, protein, fat, a combination — to use when, as the ant’s feeding habits change during the season. In winter, be prepared to try various baits because it is difficult to know what will attract them, he says.

Eli Sarnat | Bugwood.org

Argentine Ant

34% considered it problematic

15% said it made up the largest percentage of service calls in 2019

Impact: “Argentine ants are the most common that we see here. It’s very rare to have a call for a different type of ant,” said Sam de Jong, Wow Pest Control, Bakersfield, Calif. “They can infest the whole block, the whole neighborhood, and they’ll constantly have new satellite colonies.”

Strategy: Treating with non-repellent spray and bait is straightforward unless a house has structural issues. De Jong applies an insect growth regulator in early spring at homes with a history of ant problems. Multiple service visits are the norm.

Alex Wild

Red Imported Fire Ant

32% considered it problematic

10% said it made up the largest percentage of service calls in 2019

Impact: In San Antonio, they come in from Houston in sod for new subdivisions, said Juan Fernando Sanchez, Python Strike Services. They reproduce quickly in summer. “You can have 10,000 of them in about two seconds,” said Patsy McIntire, Bug Express, San Angelo, Texas.

Treatment: Sanchez applies granular pesticide and spot-treats sports fields. McIntire rods mounds at schools and daycares. A recent drought sent the ants under pavement and shaded areas. “They’re making a comeback as we get more moisture each spring,” McIntire said.

Eli Sarnat | Bugwood.org

Bigheaded Ant

10% considered it problematic

1% said it made up the largest percentage of service calls in 2019

Impact: In Pinellas County, Fla., this ant population has exploded. “They are so prolific. It’s just unbelievable,” said Daniel Schoeneman, A-Tech Pest Control, Seminole Fla. Colonies are “gigantic,” and can cover half the block. “Reintroduction is very, very common.”

Focus: Apply a non-repellent spray to the perimeter, bait mounds and the outer fenceline if neighbors’ yards show activity to intercept foragers and draw ants away from the house. They have an affinity to follow hard edges, like sidewalks and tree roots, said Schoeneman.

Joseph Berger | Bugwood.org

Harvester Ant

18% considered it problematic

1% said it made up the largest percentage of service calls in 2019

Impact: “They’re kind of intimidating, especially when they trample through your yard and make little trails and have these huge mounds,” said Patsy McIntire, Bug Express, San Angelo, Texas. They have a “fierce bite” like a wasp sting and can tunnel through concrete, she said.

Strategy: McIntire’s treatment protocol stresses Integrated Pest Management and is similar to that for fire ants. “Harvester ants have a nasty disposition. When they feel threatened, they’re very defensive,” she reminded.

Danny McDonald | Bugwood.org

Crazy Ant

31% considered it problematic

1% said it made up the largest percentage of service calls in 2019

Impact: The crazy ant is named for its erratic, jerky movement. In San Antonio, “they’re always around old structures,” said Juan Fernando Sanchez, Python Strike Services and Pest Control. He expects issues with black crazy ants to grow as Riverwalk development increases.

Why here? Old, downtown buildings have a lot of cracks in concrete that let the ants enter the structures, and the river provides plenty of water. “There’s a lot of construction everywhere. They’re moving pests from one site to the next,” said Sanchez.

Eli Sarnat | Bugwood.org

Odorous House Ant

63% considered it problematic

24% said it made up the largest percentage of service calls in 2019

Impact: Some areas of Seattle are overrun with OHA. Your zip code is “the number one determining factor” of whether you have them, said Wesley Parker, Parker Eco Pest Control. “They are spreading like wildfire,” added Ron Jennings, Cavalry Pest Control, Staunton, Va.

Strategy: OHAs have multiple queens so they start new colonies and reproduce fast. “You’ve got to kill the queens,” said Jennings. Non-repellent sprays and bait are standard treatment approaches. Parker destroys ground nests with a shovel and diatomaceous earth.