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How to Manage Pests

Key to Identifying Common Household Ants

Hydramethylnon bait

Thief ants are more difficult to manage with baits than other ants; insecticide treatments may be necessary.

Managing thief ants with baits

  • Protein baits are somewhat effective if changed often enough; however, they are not as effective as for other ant species.Thief ants do not often feed on baits long enough to bring them back to the colony for effective control.
  • Products containing hydramethylnon and fipronil may be most effective.
  • Offer small portions of each bait to see which one is preferred before employing an extensive baiting program.
  • Place baits outdoors; indoor baiting may attract more ants into the home.
  • Be sure to place baits in protected locations away from children and pets.
  • Follow up regularly to make sure bait is working and place fresh bait as necessary.

How baits work

  • Worker ants will be attracted to the bait and take it back to the nest where the entire colony, including queens, may be killed.
  • Bait must be slow-acting so workers won't be killed before they get back to the nest.
  • Results may not be evident for several weeks.
  • Killing workers does little to control the colony, because as few as 1% of a colony's foraging worker ants are able to provide sufficient food to support nestbound queens and larvae.
  • Bait stations or ant stakes are easiest to use and safest for the environment.

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