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Problem ants should be baited now

29 Sep 2011

Problem ants should be baited now

A coordinated approach is the secret to controlling Argentine or Darwin’s ants. Gisborne District Council has a project underway now to encourage people to bait soon and in conjunction with their neighbours.

William Dobbie will build on the work done last summer. He will provide advice and help coordinate residents to work together when laying ant bait says biosecurity team leader Phil Karaitiana. “The control is not so effective if only one property lays bait to rid themselves of the ants and then they all scurry next door. The best results are when all neighbours work together.”

Argentine and Darwin’s ants are a problem due to their huge numbers and appetite. They form distinctive trails that may be 5 or more ants wide travelling along footpaths, up and along sides of buildings, up tree trunks, along branches and along wooden or concrete fence lines. More than one queen ant is produced and they each form huge colonies. There can be several nests on one property.  All colonies are genetically related so there is no in-fighting between individual groups. They can quickly blanket an area making outdoor activities unpleasant.

These ants eat a wide range of foods and will forage for food in homes. They like anything sweet and the buds of some plants. They especially like tender, honeydew producing plants. They are a problem in gardens and orchards where they protect honeydew producing insects such as aphids and scale insects.

The ‘farming’ of these insects by ants allows populations to increase to damaging levels. Native insects and many of our native bird species are also at risk from these ants either through direct attack or by competing with them for resources like nectar or honeydew.

Recent trial work by Tasman District Council, who laid bait last spring, indicated that an excellent result can be achieved by baiting early in October. “We will be encouraging residents who have, or suspect they have, Argentine or Darwin’s ants to bait earlier rather than wait until the ants are a significant nuisance over the summer months,” says Mr Karaitiana.

Land owners or tenants must cover the cost of controlling Argentine or Darwin’s ants on private property. Council will continue to supply 325 gram tubes of Xtinguish ant bait to residents at cost price of $45.

For more information about Argentine or Darwin’s ants