Paste and gel baits

SAFETY FIRST! ALWAYS READ THE SAFETY DATASHEET (SDS). WEAR GLOVES WHEN HANDLING. WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY AFTERWARDS. DO NOT EAT, DRINK OR SMOKE WHEN HANDLING PRODUCTS

Gel baits

Hawai'i Ant Lab gel baits for little fire ants

Gel baits were developed as a means of delivering toxicant in an attractive bait which could reach and stick to foliage, tree trunks and other elevated areas.

Treatment products used in Hawai'i Ant Lab gel baits

The table below is reproduced from Managing the impacts of little fire ant (Wasmannia auropunctata) in French Polynesia. The table shows a variety of treatment products that have proven successful in gel bait treatment of little fire ant (LFA).

Treatment product name  Manufacturer Active ingredient  Concentration in product  Amount of product per kg of bait 

Provaunt

Dupont Indoxacarb 300 g/kg (wettable powder) 300 g (wettable powder)

Avaunt

 Dupont  Indoxacarb  300 g/kg (wettable powder) 300 g (wettable powder)
Termidor  BASF  Fipronil  100 g/kg (suspension concentrate)  0.5 g
Tango  Wellmark International  S-Methoprene  49 g/kg (suspension concentrate)  51 g
 Various  Various  Boric Acid  99.9 g/kg (powder)  20 g

Mixing Hawai'i Ant Lab gel baits

The gel-bait is made in 8 L batches by mixing a treatment product into 4.8 L of water. The treatment products are added to the bucket of water and mixed with a paint stirrer attached to an electric drill. 

When the treatment product is fully dissolved or mixed through, slowly (so that no lumps form) add 64 g of xanthan gum, then add 2.8 kg of vegetable oil (corn, sunflower, safflower oil or similar vegetable oil) and continue mixing.

The gum will prevent the oil and water from separating. It is important to keep mixing to prevent lumps from forming.

Finally, add 240 g of smooth peanut butter and continue to mix until all the ingredients are a uniform colour and ketchup-like texture.

 
Video demonstration of mixing and applying Hawai'i Ant Lab gel baits, YouTube videoHawai'i Ant Lab)

If small lumps remain in the mixture, leave overnight and mix again the following morning.

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Application of gel bait

Depending on the number of trees and bushes in the area, the application rate for gel bait is approximately 10 kg/ha.  Gel bait should also be applied to any buildings in the treatment area as these may also harbour LFA. As with many other baits, it is not recommended to use the bait if rain is expected within 12 hours as this may compromise its effectiveness.

The bait may be sprayed from the ground onto trees or shrubs that are less than 6 m high. Taller trees, such as coconuts may need to be climbed and treated if it is safe to do so. Banana trees should be treated at the axils (the point where the leaf meets the stem) as this is a common spot for smaller LFA colonies to reside. It is also advisable to spray any rubbish around trees and shrubs and spray bait along any fallen trunks or larger branches.

Buildings should be treated as high up as can safely be reached. Squirting the baits into any cracks or crevices can be particularly effective, as can placing bait near foraging trails. Little fire ants are more likely to favour the shaded side of a structure, so it is advised to treat these shaded areas wherever possible.

The bait should “spatter” the foliage and buildings with drops of ~5-10mm diameter. There should be at least one drop every 30cm. To achieve this, the bait may be applied with either high quality garden spray bottles or with pump sprayers with modified wand tips.

Modifying pump sprays

The “wand” of a standard garden pump spray is not suitable for spraying gel bait, but can be easily modified.

First, place the free end of the wand in a vice and bend the shaft of the wand tube until the end snaps off. The tube will be pinched partially shut.

Using pliers or vice grips pinch the open end of the wand closed.

It is advisable to use a batch of bait without any treatment product to test the modified wand. The bait should come out in a thin stream. Further crimping may be required to achieve this. It may also be necessary to drill a pair of small holes in the crimped end of the wand. When the wand is correctly set up, it should be able to squirt a spray of bait at least 6 m.

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Paste baits

Although we describe the application of Vanquish Pro and Xstinguish here, the same methods are used with other paste baits.

Paste baits are typically used in complement to granular baits, and when broadcast granular treatment is not possible, such as areas where livestock, domestic animals or children may eat or tamper with granular bait. To lessen the chance of children or animals touching or eating the paste bait, apply bait when children are in school and tie up any dogs in the area. Once the ants recruit to the bait animals are unlikely to touch it.

Vanquish Pro and Xstinguish

Xstinguish and Vanquish Pro are similar, but have slightly different bait formulation and identical toxicant content. Xstinguish is typically used for Argentine ants and Vanquish Pro for all ants, including yellow crazy ants.

Vanquish Pro and Xstinguish are green fipronil based bait applied as a paste from a sealed syringe-like cartridge. 

Vanquish Pro and Xstinguish are green fipronil based bait paste (left © Meghan Cooling, Pacific Biosecurity). 
 
The product is available in 325 g cylinders that require a caulking gun and nozzle (Flybusters Antiants Consulting)
Always follow manufacturer's instructions and use appropriate safety equipment when handling paste baits i.e. nitrile or other gloves.

A “blob” of bait approximately the size of a fingernail is applied to vertical surfaces or into cracks or crevices around buildings or on trees.

When used as a supplement to broadcast baiting, lay the blobs of bait at approximately 2.5 m intervals within the designated treatment area.

The paste dries out quickly, so wherever possible apply it in a sheltered spot, like under leaves, or at the roots of grasses, so that it is out of direct sunlight.

Application of the paste should be spaced at approximately 2 m intervals throughout all garden areas.

Xstinguish and Vanquish Pro contain a very low concentration of fipronil (0.1 g/kg) and it is unlikely that a child could consume sufficient volume to have any toxic effects.

However, the bait should be applied at heights greater than 1.5 m to minimise the risk of younger children or roaming animals eating it.

Once the vacuum bag has been opened the bait has only a short shelf life, so try to plan so that all the bait is used on the same day.

The application rate is 3-6 kg/ha, so a 325 g cartridge is enough to treat 1100 m2. The 6 kg rate is for heavy infestations.

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Preparing to apply Vanquish Pro® bait (© Meghan Cooling, Pacific Biosecurity)

Applying Vanquish Pro® bait out of direct sunlight and sheltered from possible rain (© Allan Burne, Pacific Biosecurity)

Kilukilu method

Most ants, such as little fire ants, nest in foliage, trees and other sites off the ground. The standard technique using a caulking gun to apply paste bait from 325 g cartridges described above will not be sufficient to treat ants beyond the reach of the person applying the bait.

To ensure low foliage is adequately covered, the KiluKilu technique is used with paste baits such as Vanquish Pro and Xstinguish. This technique involves holding the trigger of the caulking gun open whilst simultaneously swinging the gun sharply. The bait flicks of the end of the caulking gun’s nozzle and peppers the foliage in small blobs.

This technique is sufficient to increase the baits distribution up to 4 m above the ground, but taller foliage should be climbed if it is safe to do so in order to distribute bait.

Paste bait being applied to foliage using the Kilukilu method (© Cas Vanderwoude)
 

Small pieces of bait are showered on infested plants (© Cas Vanderwoude)

Information sources

Burne, Barbieri, Gruber. 2015-2019. Management Plan Atafu, Tokelau. Pacific Biosecurity Management Plan

Flybusters Antiants Consulting 2015. Yellow Crazy ant treatment Atafu Tokelau. Report for Pacific Biosecurity

Tasman District Council. Baiting with Xstinguish or Vanquish Pro to control Argentine and Darwin’s Ants

Vanderwoude. 2014. Managing the impacts of little fire ant (Wasmannia auropunctata) in French Polynesia. SPREP

Vanderwoude. 2007. Little fire ant (Wasmannia auropunctata) in Port Vila: report and recommendations for future management. Unpublished report to SPC

content reviewed by Viv van Dyk, FBA Consulting, July 2017

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