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2009 Annual Report

UC Statewide IPM Program

Urban storm water runoff drain discharging into a riparian area.
Photo by Jack Kelly Clark

Alliance promotes integrated pest management for ants

Ants are among the most difficult pests to manage in urban settings, but pesticides that control them are major contributors to water quality problems in California. Providing professionals and homeowners with better information for effectively managing ants without harming the environment is one of the highest priorities of UC IPM’s Urban and Community IPM Program, and several projects are helping to meet this goal. One of them is the Urban Ant Pest Management Alliance (PMA).

Cheryl Wilen, South Coast UC IPM advisor, has been working with the PMA to develop and communicate comprehensive, environmentally sound IPM programs that are designed to reduce, by 50 percent, the amount of pyrethroid insecticides applied to control ants around residential structures. Funding for this project comes from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

“Pyrethriod insecticides can be toxic to aquatic organisms even at very low concentrations,” Wilen said. “The alliance’s work has shown that the amount of pyrethriod insecticides used can be substantially reduced with no reduction in consumer satisfaction. This is a major step in getting pest management professionals (PMPs) to adopt IPM-based strategies for urban ant control.”

Wilen, who also is responsible for coordinating PMA outreach and extension, maintains the alliance’s Web site. Alliance members held two training programs for PMPs in Southern and Northern California in 2009, and Wilen presented a report regarding the group’s progress at the Sixth International IPM Symposium held in Portland, Ore., in March.

Homeowners use more pesticides to control ants than they use to manage any other pest in California. However, many say they are frustrated that despite the variety of products available, few provide satisfactory results, and the information regarding how to use those pesticides effectively often doesn’t provide enough guidance. 

To serve the consumer audience, UC IPM produced a 20-minute, online video that shows how to manage Argentine ants, the most common ant in California’s homes and gardens. The video, which features a preventive IPM approach, provides a comprehensive overview of how to effectively use bait stations including the new, more effective refillable models. Since its release in July, the video has been the centerpiece of statewide ant management training for Master Gardeners and a popular pick for UC IPM Web site visitors.

More information about ant management alternatives, including the video as both a full-length resource and as short, topic-specific clips, is available at www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7411.html. Resources include a Pest Note, Quick Tips in English and Spanish, a key to identifying household ants, and color photographs and line drawings. 

Other ant PMA team members led by UC Riverside entomologist Michael Rust are Darren Haver, UCCE advisor, Orange County; Les Greenberg, John Klotz, and Donald Reierson, UC Riverside entomologists; and John Kabashima, UCCE farm advisor and county director, Orange County. Mary Louise Flint and Cheryl Reynolds created the ant video with assistance from Klotz, Rust, and Wilen.


Cheryl Wilen, (858) 694-2846

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Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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