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How to Bait for Ants in 5 Easy Steps

Ant Baiting Guide

How To Get Rid of Ants With Ant Baits...

Baiting for ants can be an extremely effective option for resolving many ant infestations...IF you happen to know HOW to bait for ants. That may be worth repeating. Baiting for ants can be an extremely effective option for resolving many ant infestations IF YOU HAPPEN TO KNOW HOW TO BAIT FOR ANTS. If you do not know how to bait for ants, however, your ant treatment efforts may not only fail to resolve your ant problem, they may actually make the ant infestation even worse. 

Perhaps more than with any other pesticide product formulation, understanding the biology and behavioral tendencies of specific ant species is essential to executing an effective ant baiting program. With that knowledge in hand, skilled pest controllers have a high likelihood of resolving almost any ant infestation by exclusively using targeted bait products, enjoying the many benefits of baiting such as limited risk of exposure, ease of application, and many others.

Ant Baits Have Targeted Formulations

Unlike many other pesticide formulations that are labeled for control of a broad spectrum of pests such as insecticide sprays, aerosols, and dusts, ant baits are targeted specifically for ants, and in some cases, for specific species of ants. What this means is that not only will ant baits typically be ineffective for roaches, spiders, or other pests, they will not all be equally effective against all species of ants. And while many ant bait products may be labeled for use on many different ant species, they may not all be equally effective against all of them. So using ant baits effectively requires a combination of skills and expertise that isn't always necessary for use with other products. 

Our 5 Step Guide to Ant Baiting outlines a step-by-step process for effective ant baiting.

5 Step Guide to Ant Baiting

As a starting point, the purpose of any mosquito control program should begin with a realistic set of expectations. Whether you are inclined to hire a professional mosquito control company or are considering a do-it-yourself approach to mosquito control, many factors will impact to what extent you may be able to reduce the actual numbers of mosquitoes in your yard and for what duration that relief from mosquitoes may be enjoyed. Viewing your treatment plan as a mosquito abatement program as opposed to a mosquito elimination program will properly set your expectations to be to adequately assess the value and effectiveness of your treatments. 

Step 1: Ant Species Identification

Ant Species IdentificationUnless you're able to identify the specific ants species you're dealing with, an ant baiting program probably shouldn't even be a consideration. Using an arbitrary ant bait product for an unknown species of ant has a very low probability of success and a high probability of disenchantment. Remember, certain ant bait products will work better for certain ant species than others, and some ant bait products won't work at all on certain ant species. Before you begin to bait for ants, you've got to know what kind of ant you've got in order to determine what kind of bait options may be effective and to understand how and where bait placements may need to be made. 

Step 2: Identify Ant Access Points & Travel Routes

Ant Entry PointsIn general, ants adhere to very distinct travel patterns from their colony to their source of food or water and then back again to their colony. It is important to identify where the ants are coming from (as that will lead you to their colony), and where they are going to (as that will indicate what factors exist that are causing the ants to be there). Often times where they are going to (the food or water source) is a contributing factor that may need to be corrected as part of your ant baiting program.

If you have ants trailing, observing their behaviors can typically provide this necessary information. Ants carrying particles of food, for instance, are almost always heading directly back in the direction of the colony. Follow their paths as far as possible, as this will move you closer to understand their point of origin. 

In the process of determining where they are coming from and going to, you will also want to identify how they are actually getting into the building. Common points of entry often include openings around doors, windows, utility penetrations, plumbing lines, settlement cracks in the foundation, tree limbs touching the house, attic opens, and many others. In some instance, sealing off potential points of ant access will be a part of your ant baiting program. 


Step 3: Identify Contributing Factors to Ant Infestation

Ant Contributing FactorsWhy have these particular ants chose to set up camp in your particular home or building? Invariably, the presence of ants inside a building is almost (but not always) a function of the presence of ants in the exterior environment around the building. In all likelihood, these ants are present on the outside because the conditions on the outside are favorable for these ants to be there. 

Some of this is a function of geography. Certain areas of certain neighborhoods may naturally be subject to a much higher prevalence of various ant species. Some of it may also have to do with the particular vegetation or plant-life you have on your property, a some ants are drawn to certain types of trees, bushes, shrubs, and flowers. White Footed Ants, for instances, feed primarily on plant nectars and honeydew, which is a sweet substance produced by insects such as aphids. Foliage lending itself to the presence of aphids, then, is likely to also play host to large populations of White Footed Ants. 

Tree limbs coming in direct contact with the home is another very common factor contributing to certain species of ants, particular those species living in and upon trees. Other ants, such as the Big Headed Ant, may tunnel in around thresholds and behind siding in a manner similar to that of subterranean termites.

Contributing factors can also exist inside the home as well, and may often be associated with improper sanitation or food storage practices. By maintaining a clean, sanitary environment and storing all food stuffs (including pet foods) in sealed, air-tight containers, the contributing factors will be lessened.  

Step 4: Select Your Ant Bait Product

Ant Bait SelectionNow that you know what species of ant you've got, where they are coming from and going to, and what factors are contributing both inside and outside the structure, you are now ready to begin considering which ant bait product(s) may be best for your particular situation. (Pest Control Everything's Ant Bait Comparison Chart provides a side-by-side comparison of many of the most commonly used ant gel bait products).

First, start by looking at the labels of the various pest control bait products to see if the ant species you are dealing with is listed on that particular product label. If your ant species is not listed, that particular bait is not specifically designed for it. Move on to the next product. After looking at the labels of several ant bait products, you will be left with a handful of potential products for your ant situation. 

From here, begin to do some research as to the feeding tendencies of the particular ant species you're dealing with. Some gel baits may be labeled for Big Headed Ants, for instance, but granular baits are almost always a better option. On the flip side, granular baits will be almost entirely ineffective against White Footed Ants, Ghost Ant, or Pharaoh Ants, making gel bait formulations a better option for dealing with those species.

To help speed up your ant bait product selection process, we've included some recommendations below based on our decades of experience dealing with many species of ants across many geographies. Products are listed in no particular order. Click on an ant bait to view on Amazon and purchase. 

Ghost Ants 

  • Advion Ant Gel Bait, Maxforce Quantum, or Optigard Ant Gel Bait

White Footed Ants 

Big Headed Ants

Red Imported Fire Ants

  • Advion Fire Ant Granular Bait, Extinguish Plus Fire Ant Granular Bait, Advance 375A Select Ant Granular Bait

Carpenter Ants

  • Advance Carpenter Ant Granular Bait

Argentine Ants

  • Invict Xpress Granular Bait, Optigard Ant Gel Bait


Step 5: Make Ant Bait Applications

Ant Bait ApplicationNothing will impact the success or failure of your ant baiting program more than how and where you make your bait applications. As a general rule, for most species of ants, ant gel bait is best placed in protected areas in direct proximity to foraging trails and as close to points of entry as possible in order to maximize bait acceptance and encourage aggressive feeding. It is typically NOT a good idea to make initial ant bait applications on interior portions of the building or around areas such as pantries, sinks, or countertops, as this may encourage an increase in ant activity to these particular areas. Remember, ant are going to be drawn to wherever you choose to place the bait. So don't make bait applications in areas where you don't want to be seeing ants while the bait runs its course. 

  • Ant Gel Baits should be applied in protected areas in direct proximity to foraging trails and as close to points of entry as possible;
  • Ant Bait Granules should typically be applied outdoors in proximity to ant mounds or foraging trails;

Remember that effective baiting for ants is a slow, deliberate process that takes time to totally eliminate the ant population. This is by design. Ant baits are intended to work slowly in order to allow enough time for impacted ants to pass lethal doses of the toxins on to other ants within the colony before dying. If baits kill too quickly, this lack of transferability won't have a chance to work its way through the entire colony or back to the queen. 

How To Apply Ant Gel Bait: Video Guide



How To Apply Ant Granular Bait: Video Guide

Be sure to read the ant bait product label for detailed application instructions on how much to apply, how to apply, and where to apply the ant bait of your choice. 

The Dos and Don'ts of Ant Baiting

  • DO make bait applications near foraging trails and points of entry. DO NOT make bait application on countertops, pantry shelves, or other similar areas where you do not want to see an increase or recurring ant presence;
  • DO give the bait time to work. It can sometimes take several days or weeks to knock out an ant infestation. DO NOT expect immediate ant elimination results. 
  • DO provide an ample supply of ant bait at the time of the initial application. Providing too ant bait won't allow for colony elimination, and may prevent or slow down bait acceptance during follow up applications. DO NOT apply just a little bit of any bait and expect positive results.
  • DO make targeted bait applications and make sure ants are coming to the baited area within a matter of minutes and feeding aggressively, and continue applying additional bait in that area as needed to ensure an ample supply. DO make small bait applications in other areas of suspected activity as a means of testing for ant presence. DO NOT make large scale bait applications in random areas throughout the structure. 
  • DO consider using multiple ant bait products to determine which ones are most accepted. In order for an ant bait to eliminate an ant colony, aggressive feeding is essential. If the ants are not taking to one bait product, introduce another one. 
  • DO NOT disturb ants feeding on ant baits, or spray any cleaners or other chemicals on foraging ant or ant trails during your baiting program. Alarming ants may cause them to stop feeding for many days, and sprays of any type can ruin the effectiveness of the ant bait. 
  • DO NOT spray other pesticides, either indoors or outdoors, while executing an ant baiting program. Although some non-repellent concentrate products may be used in combination with ant baits in certain instances, improper techniques may drastically delay the baiting process.

For immediate, real-time support regarding your ant baiting questions, please check out our Ask Professor Pest Live Online Chat.



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