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Ant Baits

How to choose the correct bait for ant extermination.

Other ant links of interest:
Ant Index Ant Elimination Insect Baits Maxforce Baits Index

This page will help you decide which bait to use for different situations.  Each pest management job can require one or more bait formulations.  Every ant infestation can require a different method of baiting, one or more specific attractants and one or more formulation types (bait stations, granular bait, liquid bait or gel.)

Seeing a particular ant species listed on the label of an ant bait is no guarantee that the bait will eliminate an ant infestation.  There is also no guarantee that the ants will accept the bait.  Identify and research your particular ant pest carefully.  (There might even be more than one species of ant in the same location.)  Choose your bait or baits carefully.  Every species is different and each ant colony has its own particular needs at any given notice.

Consider an ant colony as an amazing organism.  Every day, the colony will need a certain amount of food.  The type of food needed by the colony can vary - without notice.  While some ant colonies diet will vary between different protein and sugar food sources, others will rely on sweets the majority of the time.
But even the sweet feeding ants have variations in their diet or can become "hooked" on a certain sugar source.  Carpenter ants are notorious for choosing honey dew from an aphid on a particular plant while ignoring the aphids on another, nearby plant.  This is because there are differences in the sugars produced by each plant and these differences can be detected by the ants in the aphid honey dew.  Advancements in technology have given us great ant baits designed specifically for use in eliminating carpenter ants.  The "secret" attractants in these baits included materials that mimic the honey dew produced by aphids.  However, if alternative food sources are not eliminated you can easily have a failure in controlling the ants with a bait.

Before choosing a bait, you should decide if an ant bait is suitable for the job.  There are certain ant species that rarely accept baits while other ants will accept or take your bait without eliminating your infestation.  For example: 

  • Pharaoh Ants respond to baits far better than contact insecticides.
  • Crazy Ants will initially accept several types of baits but soon desert the material once the insecticide contained in the bait is detected by the colony.
  • Argentine Ants will also accept professional baits but their colony system (at times) can be too over whelming to handle with an outdoor baiting program; baiting indoors sometimes helps remove localized colonies but will not stop ants from migrating indoors from other sources.
  • Carpenter Ants will readily respond to the newer carpenter ant baits (Advance Carpenter Ant Bait and Maxforce Carpenter Ant Bait Gel) but follow-up treatments with the use of pesticides are usually needed to prevent re-infestation of the pests.

The next step in making an ant bait decision is exactly which formulation or combination of formulations is best for your problem.  There are five basic combinations currently available for use:

Ant Bait Stations Granular Ant Bait Fine Granular Bait Ant Bait Gel Liquid Ant Baits
  1. Solid Ant Bait Stations:  These disks (containing special ant baits) are often called "ant traps" by consumers, but they do not trap ants.  These disks are merely plastic stations filled with a material made up of attractants and a very small amount of an insecticide.  Ant bait stations are widely used by professional pest control operators and do-it-yourselfers for large, indoor ant populations.  Stations can be placed in areas where ant trails are seen inside buildings.  The newer professional stations (Maxforce FC Ant Bait Stations, etc.) have "see through" containers that make for easier inspection.  If you find that the ants have consumed all or most of the bait, replace the station immediately.  Do not allow the ants to run out of bait!  Continue to replace the stations until no ant activity has been noted for at least 3 weeks.  In the case of white-footed ants, Pharaoh ants or Argentine ants, bait stations are sometimes left in place to help monitor populations or to watch for re-infestations.
  2. Granular Ant Bait:  This ant bait formulation is used primarily for scattering in attics, crawl spaces beneath homes and on the ground surrounding homes or other structures.  There are several pest specific baits to choose from: Ascend Fire Ant Bait, Extinguish Fire Ant Bait, Amdro, Maxforce Fire Ant Killer Bait, Advance Carpenter Ant Bait.  These baits are designed for eliminating ants, fireants or carpenter ants.  Maxforce Granular Bait and Niban G are baits with a broader pest range, used to eliminate roaches, ants, silverfish or crickets.  Each of these baits work well in different pest elimination programs and are very useful in Integrated Pest Management (IPM.)
    Note: Do not confuse granule ant baits with granular insecticides!  Ant baits are used dry; granular insecticides (which are a contact kill for pests) have to be "watered in" to release the insecticide into the soil or flower beds where they are applied.  Watering an ant bait will destroy its effectiveness. 
  3. Fine Granular Bait:  Products such as Niban FG are easier for small species of ants to pick up and transfer; bait can also be applied with a hand bellows type duster for better application in hard-to-reach areas.
  4. Ant Bait Gel:  This is the newest weapon in our fight against ants.  (A few Boric Acid ant baits have been on the market for some time, but professional specialty baits are just being introduced.)
    The gel formulations of ant baits make baiting in hard to reach or small areas easier than with conventional baits.  Application is simple: apply small spots (about the diameter of a regular pencil eraser) to areas where ant trails are seen or in holes or cracks where worker ants are seen entering or exiting the structure.  The ant bait gel you choose might very well list ways to bait outdoors but you should remember that heat, sunlight, rain, etc., can easily break down these baits.  A gel is usually the consistency of toothpaste and is made up of attractants, a tiny amount of ant killer and moisture - lots of moisture!  This moisture is part of the attracting quality of the bait and it can easily be lost or diminished by the elements and extreme temperatures.
    The most popular ant baits in gel form are Maxforce Ant Killer Gel, Maxforce Gel Carpenter Ant Bait and Intice Smart Ant Gel Bait.
    In many cases, gel formulations are best used in conjunction with a granular bait or bait stations.  Use granular or bait stations for volume; use gel in hard to treat areas.   An excellent example of this one-two punch is seen in carpenter ant elimination.  Our customers have achieved great results by combining Maxforce Gel Carpenter Ant Bait with Advance Carpenter Ant Bait when dealing with large or stubborn ant infestations.
  5. Liquid Ant Baits:  This old standby has been with us for many years and is seeing service in many ant elimination programs.  The best example of a liquid ant bait is Liquid Gourmet.