By: Reid Ipsen, PhD, Director of Technical Services, Nisus Corporation
The warmer spring months with more sunlight mark the beginning of increased insect activity for the new year. Ants will start to grow in colony size, with increased feeding and foraging. This is an ideal time to apply an insect bait around the perimeter of any structure. In most cases, one should use a granular bait. This of course depends on geographic location and the insect pest in question. Granular baits are ideal because they have the potential to attract a variety of insect species groups such as crickets, roaches, silverfish, other occasional invaders, and, of course, ants. The characteristics of the bait, especially particle size and attractants, will help to procure effectiveness against a particular pest insect species. For example, some large-particle baits are designed for carpenter ants and have a greater tendency to attract this group of ants compared to other particle baits. However, other ant species smaller in size, such as the little black ant Monomorium minimum, might find the larger particle size less attractive. Some insects, such as silverfish and firebrats, however, tend to forage in a non-specific manner and are less influenced by particle size. These groups are general feeders and forage a wide variety of food items.
The active ingredient of a bait can have an effect as well. Synthetic active ingredients like indoxacarb, fipronil and imidacloprid work faster than active ingredients such as borates. However, these more expensive active ingredients have shorter residual and can produce a population-rebound effect, thus rendering the baiting less effective. Borates, a pure active with origins in nature, has an asymptote with no known resistance. Once the lethal threshold for the insect is crossed, control is imminent. Borates can be used in conjunction with other active ingredients without the possibility of cross resistance, unlike that which can occur when multiple products with the same active ingredients are used. It is always advisable to rotate products when baiting. For example, use an indoxacarb bait for the first application, and then use Niban for subsequent applications, even in a pre-season spring program.
Liquid baits are efficacious in pre-season baiting programs as well. For some insect pest species, liquid baits are ideal. For example, Argentine ants are more prone to consume liquid ant baits than particle baits, particularly in drier climates. In these cases, using liquid baits in large volumes early in the season as ants start to emerge can help suppress initial colony size, which will result in less robust colonies. Move the liquid bait stations in response to observed changes in foraging patterns and colony movement in order to enhance results. Of course, liquid baits and/or a particle bait in containers need to be monitored, refilled, and/or changed as necessary. More labor and attention are necessarily needed, but pre-season spring baiting will pay great dividends.
Customers pay for industry expertise, and it is attention to detail that maximizes results. Indeed, spreading particle baits and placing liquid stations strategically will promote efficacy and help to reduce callbacks. Some insect species forage randomly, but ants do not. The attention and energy of ants are focused and driven for specific sets of resources that are needed for colony growth and maintenance. Not applying enough granules and misplacing liquid stations might not achieve best results. Some companies, such as Nisus Corporation, offer training videos that demonstrate the ideal application process. When you choose to use a bait from any manufacturer, search their website for valuable training videos. Perhaps using your office as a “lab” to develop your pre-season spring service protocol will be helpful so when it is time to bait, all technicians are ready.
Baiting has important benefits one can market to the homeowner. Educate the interested customer about various aspects of a bait, such as advantages of a certain formulation, the application process, and the bait’s ability to target particular pest insect species while not harming non-target insects. Remember to discuss expectations with the customer as well; baits don’t work instantly. Focus on environmental stewardship if a “green solution” is being offered. You can use this communication strategy to enroll a customer, and perhaps have the agreement specifically limited to baiting – particularly when promoting it as a “green service.” Pre-season baiting is an ideal green service.
In fact, baits are the pillar of a green service offering. In addition, active ingredient classes found in nature, mainly a borate bait such as Niban, is a smart choice. Tolerant of spring rains, Niban won’t degrade when wet. Of course, there is a chance that insect intrusion or pest pressure could require additional methods and additional products that contain synthetic compounds, but use these in a supplemental fashion.
Interior treatments should be no different. Educate the homeowner about the importance of spring baiting and its prevention of interior intrusion. This will help gain the account. If pest insect intrusion does occur, borate baits such as Magnetic Roach Bait paste, Niban granular, and DominAnt liquid ant bait can cover the gamut of all needed insect pest treatments. Placing particle baits in specialized containers is also important for strategical application. For example, if ants are intruding from an electrical outlet, establishing one station with sufficient material has the potential to eliminate foraging. This can be supplemented with faster-acting synthetic baits when needed. Niban is permitted for interior use but always make sure that any other bait is labeled for indoor use.
Take note that introducing a bait rotation program, perhaps allowing for additional treatments, is always advantageous. This is not to say that you should avoid offering other programs to your potential customers but offering a new innovation such as pre-season baiting is always a plus. Offering such services at the start of the pest season will help acquire accounts – and will foster increased customer retention. Due to work schedules, many customers, prefer services that are conducted outside the structure and want interior treatments onlywhen necessary. Pre-season baiting will help reduce the need for interior treatments. Pre-season spring baiting is an ideal service offering which will show your customers the value of hiring a professional. Happy baiting!