Ants are social insects that can form colonies of many thousands. Foraging worker ants will search for food and are often found in trails running into homes, particularly kitchens where they find and contaminate food. Ants form nests in dry, warm, underground spaces outside. Occasionally the nest will be within the fabric of a building but this is less likely.
To get rid of ants follow these simple steps:
1) Search - Find the ant nest sites. In most cases ant nests will be in warm, dry sandy soil, often under a rock, paving stone, and driveway etc. On warm days search for a stream of worker ants going back and forth into a hole in the ground. Do not treat this entrance with insecticide yet.
2) Kill - Use many small amounts of NO Ants Gel Bait where you see ants or have seen them in the past. If the gel is not being taken, try sweetening by adding a little icing sugar to the gel bait. Workers feed on the bait and take it back to the nest to feed and kill the queen(s) and larvae. Replenish the bait regularly until you see no more (or very few) insects feeding. Only then should you use spray insecticide to eradicate the nests and to act as a barrier to further infestation. Ants are very sensitive to strong chemicals. All dishes or containers used to hold bait should be rinsed well with clean water and dried before use. A great alternative is to use some masking tape and squeeze the bait on top. The tape will hold the bait in place and can be easily removed.
3) Barriers - NO Bugs Super surface spray will kill ants that cross the treated surfaces and will also act as a barrier; many species of ant will avoid the treated surfaces if possible. It is best to think of sprays used in and around the home as barriers.
4) Deny - Sprinkle Lawngard Prills on nest entrances to destroy the nests. Also sprinkle in a ring around the home and brush into the cracks and crevices in paving and driveways. When watered this penetrates the soil killing nests and acting as a ‘curtain’ barrier.
The nests of some species will co-operate and can be regarded as a super colony.
Ant colonies contain at least 3 castes
(some have a fourth caste of soldier ants)
Queens > which are fertilised females after the wings are cast off
Males > short lived often with wings to take part in nuptial flights with females that become queens
Workers > usually sterile females comprising the bulk of the colony.
Foraging workers that you may see out seeking food are usually only about 5% of the colony, so controlling the ants you see with insecticide is only temporary and should only be done after controlling the nest with baits.
As nuisance pests ants can cause electrical and electronic faults when they get into equipment such as switch gear, exchanges and computers, they can contaminate food stuffs, and damage garden plants.
Ant colonies will often combine during winter and separate again in summer. During midsummer - late autumn, swarms of winged males and females of many species take off on nuptial flights. After their nuptials the ants fall to the ground, the males perish and the fertilised females, now queens, cast their wings and crawl off in search of locations for the establishment of new colonies.
Scientific names of important pest ants in New Zealand
Darwin ant - Doleromyrma darwiniana
White footed ant - Technomyrmex jocosus
Pharaoh's ant - Monomorium pharaonis
Stick masking tape on delicate surfaces and then apply bait onto the masking tape. This protects the surface and allows easy removal.
Some ants 'farm' aphids and scale insects for sweet secretions and it worth treating your plants with suitable garden insecticides to control these sapsucking plant pests and deny the ants their food supply. KIwicare’s Plant Health Insect Hit, and Plant Health Rose Force both have a curative and preventative action so would be perfect (Oderings stock both).
Lawngard Prills is useful in areas of garden where ants are a nuisance and as an additional barrier around a house or other building. The prills (granules) are sprinkled onto soil and gravel surfaces where ants are travelling and then watered in to take the insecticide deep into the soil, forming a curtain barrier.
Thanks to Glen Arthur from Kiwicare for this extremely useful article.