Applying treatments

Before commencing treatment, make sure the community is fully informed about the work and health and safety concerns are addressed. Make sure any pre-treatment monitoring is done and environmental and social impact considerations have been addressed. Ensure all people undertaking management have been trained in treatment application.

Communication is important!

When undertaking treatment it is essential that all stakeholders are kept informed of what is happening. This will minimise the risk of health effects and will also make the operations go smoothly.

If the treatment is happening in an inhabited area, communication should include public meetings, school visits, warning posters in and around the treatment area, warning leaflets for each household and health surveys for each household.

Posters and leaflets should feature the following information:

  • The name of the chemicals being used
  • When it is being used (dates from to)
  • A photograph of the bait(s)
  • Safety instructions (do not touch bait, watch children at all times and keep them out of the area, do not eat animals from this area etc.)
  • Contact details for further information

Health and safety

When handling and distributing pesticides, health and safety is the primary concern. EVERY chemical that is used for ant control will have an accompanying Safety Data Sheet (SDS). SDSs for all products are available online or you can request a copy from the supplier of the bait or pesticide you plan to use. Some basic rules of safe handling include:

  • Always read the instructions before use
  • Use gloves when handling products (check the SDS for details of which type of gloves offer the best protection and other personal protection recommendations)
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke whilst handling pesticides
  • Always wash your hands after using any chemicals
  • Avoid breathing any vapours or dust - wear appropriate respiratory protection if necessary
  • Store all insecticides in a secure place away from children and animals
  • Ensure all stakeholders are made aware of any risks associated with insecticide use

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Treatment application

Instructions on the use of granular baitstargeted insecticidespaste and gel baits, bait stations and nest injection are provided here. We show you details of how to measure and spread bait efficiently, how to look for non-target effects and case studies of ant management programmes that have been successfully undertaken in a variety of environments.

Treatment products can be obtained from a number of suppliers.

Ant baits are expensive and can have non-target effects on the environment.  For these reasons it is important to distribute the correct amount of bait in the right way - too little and you will not achieve your goals, too much and the bait will remain in the environment where it might poison beneficial organisms or contaminate ground water. Also use the correct treatment for your target species and environment.

When applying any insecticide or other bait it is essential that you:
  • read the manufacturer's instructions and observe correct application rates
  • read the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the product and wear the appropriate personal protective equipment
  • read the Environmental Impact Assessment for the activity and observe all precautions to prevent non target effects or accidental contamination of the environment

We have created a video that outlines the methods of application for the three main manual treatment options: granular broadcast baits, bait paste and residual sprays. 

The video is also available in French.

Treatment methods for ants, YouTube video. The video is also available in French (© PIAT, Pacific Biosecurity)

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How treatment products are formulated

Poisons or toxicants are typically delivered in an attractant known as a bait matrix. This matrix may be in the form of a solid, a powder, a paste or a liquid. The composition of this bait matrix is tailored to the food preferences of the target ant species.

Ants may be broadly separated into meat/grease ants and sugar ants depending on whether they mostly forage for protein or carbohydrates.These preferences may differ depending on which point in their life cycle the ants are in, or what the prevailing weather conditions are. For example, when larvae are being fed there will be increased foraging for protein and when prolonged periods of rain dilute available sugar resources, there will be increased demand for carbohydrates. It is therefore essential to understand the target species' life cycle and biology before any management activity is begun. In the Pacific Islands, where temperatures rarely fall below 20°C, breeding can be assumed to occur year round.

A particular bait matrix or treatment product may be successful in managing a species in one environment but not another. When trying to manage an invasive ant species, it is important to gather as much information about baits that have been successful in environments comparable to your own before commencing any management activity.

Read the case studies of ant management actions in the Pacific region to find out the best treatment options in your situation.

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

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