The PestWeb Podcast episode 8: Effective ant management
Even when technicians are properly trained, ants can be all too easy to mismanage in the field — or miss entirely during inspections. In this episode, Tommy Powell shares his tips for finding and managing ants more efficiently to minimize callbacks.
Tommy brings longtime expertise as a technical field representative at MGK. Listen as he explains how to find colonies, interact with internet-savvy customers, and choose the right productsby clicking the audio player below.
Technicians often miss ants because they’re in a hurry. But just because you don’t immediately see ants running around doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Maybe they’re moving their nest location, maybe they’re not foraging for food at that time, or maybe there’s been a rain event.
If the technician misses the ants and treats the space with the wrong product, it can make the problem worse — meaning more time spent fixing the issue later on.
Consider the entire landscape. Look at the neighbor’s house across the street — do they have flowers and foliage that might be attractive to ants? Are there plant-feeding insects like aphids and whiteflies?
The hard part about managing ants is it that it takes time. That’s why I’ve trained technicians to ask customers to pre-bait. They can just leave some food on a piece of wax paper or aluminum foil for quick cleanup. By the time the technician arrives, the ant trail should be easy to follow.
Most customers will comply with this request. If you explain the plan, it also makes them less likely to spray with Raid or Windex, wiping away the pheromone trail.
The majority of a time, when an ant is carrying a solid piece of food in its mouth, it’s headed home. So you don’t need to trail the ant all the way to the nest — you can quickly determine whether the nest is in the home, the yard, or somewhere else.
If it’s in the yard, you can probably use whatever pesticides you’ve got in your tank — a repellant would probably stop ants from foraging in the house. But if the ant is trailing towards the house, you need to use a different product.
Earlier in my career, customers would call to double check their space was treated because they couldn’t smell the product in the air. But today’s customers want to know exactly what the product is and how it works.
Sometimes technicians don’t really understand the product and will just say, “Stay out of this room for 24 hours.” They don’t really know how to answer customers’ questions. But you have to be really conscious about how you explain things.
That’s why I’m helping train technicians so they can communicate exactly what to expect — before customers Google it for themselves. That’s the age we’re in now — anyone can look it up, so you’ve got to know.
Some of the most challenging ant species are multi-queen, where you have multiple satellite nests around a home. In these cases, just because you trail ants back to, say, a structural rock in the yard, your treatment may not solve the problem.
MGK recently entered the ant market with Sumari Insecticide, a nonrepellent transportable product that’s extremely effective for managing multiple nests.
We’ve had really strong results with odorous house ants, which are a major issue where I live in North Carolina. The study I was most proud of was with Tawny crazy ants in Florida, for which we developed a really successful protocol.
I was also blown away by the introduction of Sumari to fire ants. We had multiple customers in Texas using different treatment methods, both spraying the ground and doing broadcast treatments, and we got really good control of the infestations. It really shocked me.
We are also working on launching Sumari for other insects, with longer residuals, and in more settings.
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