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Unraveling the Mystery of How Does Ant Bait Work to Eliminate Infestations

March 11, 2024

By Rachel Maldonado

Unraveling the Mystery of How Does Ant Bait Work to Eliminate Infestations

Imagine coming home to a flood of industrious ants, invading your personal space and nibbling on the food crumbs that are on your counter. Lucky for you, you have some ant bait on hand: so you set some out, and within days, the once-imposing line of interlopers thins and eventually vanishes.

But you might be curious about the science behind the magic. How does ant bait work, and what are the best ant stations that you can use? 

We’ll answer those questions – and so much more – in this comprehensive guide.

What Happens to Ants When They Eat Ant Bait?

So how does ant bait work?

First, we’ll say that ant baits are an astonishingly effective means of controlling ant populations. Unlike traditional insecticides that directly target only the visible scouts, ant baits can be the secret agents that go back to the colony to infiltrate and ultimately decimate the entire thing.

Ant baits are formulated in different ways. The attraction component of the bait is the most important part, as it needs to be enticing enough to lure in a substantial number of ants. Taste is a key element, but so is the smell, texture, and appearance.

Here’s where the magic happens: when ants happen upon a tasty morsel of ant bait, they’re not just enjoying a quick snack. They are potentially taking back lethal doses to their queen and nest mates. It’s somewhat like a sacrificial lamb concept, where a few ants succumb to the poisoned bait, but in doing so, distribute a toxic payload to the most important members of the colony. 

How Do Ant Baits Work?

Not all ant baits work in the same way. There are different types of ant baits that cater to the diverse tastes of different ant species, so that baits are specific and effective against particular colonies. Sweet, sugary baits are irresistible to ants like argentine ants and acrobat ants, while protein-rich baits are best for thief ants and pharaoh ants.

Manufacturers use a wider angle of ingredients to create baits, from gels infused with sugars to baits that are rich in proteins and oils. The goal is to create something ants simply can’t resist. 

Once the ants are lured in, they begin to feast. The newer baits contain an active component that is a slow-acting toxin. These aren’t necessarily quite at lethal doses, since the feasting ants need to be able to get back to the colony to distribute the poison.

Organophosphates, insect growth regulators, and borax are all common poisons that ant baits may contain. These chemicals disrupt the ants’ nervous or digestive systems, ultimately leading to their demise along with the rest of the colony.

Tips for Successful Ant Baiting

Now that you know the science behind ant baits, here are a few tips to help you do so successfully. 

1. Know What Kind of Ant You’re Dealing With

First, take some time to research and identify the type of ant you’re dealing with. Remember, different ants prefer different nutrients and are attracted to different baits depending on the time of the year.

Be aware of the shifting preferences of seasonal foods for different ant species, too. And if you’re not sure what kind of ant you’re dealing with, experiment with different baits and observe which ones attract the most ants. This will help you eliminate and select the ideal boat.  

Of course, the best course of action is always to work with a professional pest control company who can help you target the ant species you have most effectively.

2. Look for the Active Ingredient

Pay close attention to the active ingredient listed on the label of your bait product. Some common ones include:

  • Boric acid
  • Hydramethylnon
  • Avermectin 

…and others listed here. Just make sure you avoid ones that contain permethrin or cyfluthrin. Some people assume that these are baits, but they’re actually insecticides that will only kill foragers and not the entire colony. 

3. Clean the Area Thoroughly

Before you put out any baits, make sure the area is cleaned. Ants can be particular about their foods and often shun poisoned baits over crumbs that they can access more easily. 

4. Place Bait Stations Where They’re Accessible But Not to Kids or Pets

Place the ant baits where trials are visible and undisturbed. 

Also, be careful about where you place your traps if you have kids or pets wandering around.

5. Don’t Use Insecticide at the Same Time

Avoid using insecticides or sprays at the same time as the ant baits. These can contaminate the area and make the ant baits less effective. 

Best Ant Baits

Again, there are different types of ant baits that work best for different types of ants.

Granular baits, for instance, are generally sprinkled around the perimeter or directly over ant mounds – an excellent choice for outdoor infestations.

Gel baits are better for indoor use and can be applied along ant trails and near entry points. 

Bait stations, some of the most common types of ant devices, offer a contained environment for ant bait to protect it from the elements. 

How Do I Know if Ant Bait is Working?

So how do you know if the ant bait is working? You may find that the bait is untouched for long periods of time as the ants slowly vanish or die off. 

You might also see a decrease in visible activity. Ant trails and traffic patterns might dry up, indicating a reduction in the foraging population. 

How Long Does it Take for Ant Bait to Kill Colony?

Be patient when you’re using ant baits to get rid of an ant infestation. It can take a long time – several weeks or more, in some cases – to get rid of ants. 

However, remaining vigilant and continuing on with all of your other preventative measures is key if you want to see lasting results.

Key Takeaways

The best defense against an ant infestation is a well-informed offense – often, that’s one that incorporates the strategic use of ant baits.

By understanding the inner workings of these seemingly simple devices, you can deploy them in a way that’s both effective and affordable. 

If you’re unsure of the best path forward – or which are the best ant baits for your specific needs – don’t be afraid to give Hawx Pest Control a call. Join our satisfied family of customers today – and enjoy a pest-free home tomorrow.


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