Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ant Control Techniques by Ralph H Maestre BCE

Ant control can and will be difficult to obtain. Ants still remain the number one pest on most pest management professional lists. Many methods are employed to control them and many fail. Long term methods generally employ exclusion or pest proofing. I will explain some of the current methods used by MPM. First I will give a very brief introduction of the different ant species we deal with and then speak on the control techniques.

Carpenter Ants· Small minor workers ¼ inch long
· Large major workers ½ inch long
· Large black or reddish ant
· Polymorphic (multiple sizes in the colony)

One the most prominent species of ants we encounter is the carpenter ant. There are several species, but all are treated in the same way by us. Carpenter ants are among the largest ants found in homes and live in colonies containing three castes consisting of winged and wingless queens, winged males and different sized workers. Winged males are much smaller than winged queens.

Swarmers emerge from mature colonies usually from March to July. The colony does not produce swarmers until about three years later. A mature colony, after three to six years, has 2,000 to 4,000 individuals. Workers regurgitate food for nourishment of the developing larvae and queen.

In later generations, workers of various sizes are produced (polymorphism) into major and minor workers that are all sterile females. Nests are usually established in soft, moist (not wet), decayed wood or occasionally in an existing wood cavity or void area in a structure that is perfectly dry. The walls of the nest are smooth and clean (sandpapered appearance) with shredded sawdust-like wood fragments, like chewed up toothpicks (frass), carried from the nest and deposited outside.

The most important and often most difficult part of carpenter ant control is locating the nest or nests. Once the nest location is found, control is very easy and simple. Steps to a successful inspection include an interview with family members, inspection indoors, inspection outdoors and sound detection.

Pharaoh Ants· About 1/16 inch long
· Light yellow to reddish brown with abdomen slightly darker
· Monomorphic workers
· Has two nodes and no spines on the thorax
· No stringer
· Three segment clubbed antennae

Female Pharaoh Ants can lay 400 or more eggs in her lifetime. Mature colonies contain several queens, winged males, sterile females or workers, eggs, larvae, prepupae and pupae growing to as large as 300,000 or more members.
Periodically a queen, together with a few workers carrying immatures (eggs, larvae and pupae), leaves the nest and sets up a new colony elsewhere, quickly spreading an infestation. This behavior pattern is known as "satelliting," "fractionating" or "budding" where part of the colony migrates to a new location rather than by single females dispersing after a reproductive swarm. Budding may occur due to overcrowding, seasonal changes in the building's central heating and cooling system or application of a repellent pesticide (really known as fission).

Nests usually occur in wall voids, under floors, behind baseboards, in trash containers, under stones, in cement or stone wall voids, in linens, light fixtures, etc.

Pharaoh ants are usually much harder to control than other ants because of their ability to disperse. About 90 percent of the colony remains hidden in the nest so even if 10 percent of the colony is killed by a residual pesticide, the remaining reservoir of ants is enormous. Conventional contact pesticide applications especially repellent products such as pyrethrins may spread infestations to new areas with multiple colonies blossoming within the structure. These ants will avoid certain pesticides.

Odorous House AntsBrown coloration
Body 1/8 inch in length
Workers are all one size (monomorphic)

Colonies vary in size and range from a few hundred to 10,000 individuals, usually with multiple queens. Sexual forms are produced only in colonies that are at least four to five years old. Mating may take place within the nest or nearby. Colonies multiply when one or more fertile females accompanied by numerous workers leave the parent colony, found a new nest, and start a new colony. Single inseminated queens from nuptial flights also may establish new colonies independently.

The odorous house ant, Tapinoma sessile (Say), is a native species that occurs throughout the United States. Outside, it commonly nests in soil beneath most any object, including stones, logs, concrete blocks, and fallen limbs. It also nests under the bark of logs and stumps and in plant cavities, refuse piles, under mulch in flower beds, and nests of birds and animals.
It is critical to survey inside and outside to locate all nests. Nests found outside can be drenched with a residual insecticide. When numerous ants appear around the building foundation, a perimeter treatment with a residual non-repellent insecticide should be used. Baits that have a protein or sugar-based attractant may be effective when the nest is not accessible.

Magic’s Management Program always begins with baiting. Use the various baits we have available like Intice gel, Intice granular, Advance gel, Advance 388B, Advance granular, Advion Pucks, and the new Advion gel. All of these are highly effective bait. Use the buffet style of baiting, this means don’t rely on only one of the baits. You will fail and numerous call-backs will occur. In conjunction with this you may use only a liquid spray, such as Phantom. Use Phantom both outside and inside the perimeter of the structure. This is a non-repellent and is effective. There are new products Fast-out foam and Transport GHP new to our arsenal. These products are showing very good results and are also non-repellents. NyGuard is an IGR that can and should be incorporated into our pest management program against ants. NyGuard may be used with both non-repellents and baits.

Termidor is to be used only by the field supervisors. This is a last resort situation.When it comes to carpenter ants, if the nest is located then we will drill and inject product using the actisol machine or dust. The dust may be Drione, Tri-Die, or Borid. Repair to leak can be handled by our carpentry division.

Nest found outside, small mounds of dirt, may be sprayed using pyrethroids. This is the only time you may use one of these products. Phantom cannot be used always from the structure. Always read your labels and provide them to the customer.

If a follow-up is needed, then it should be no less than ten to fourteen days later. This will allow for the product to take effect.

Potentially two other species may be found in our area that enters structures. The first one is the False Honey Ant, Prenolepis impairs, the workers are monomorphic, 2 to 4 mm long, and have a one-segmented petiole. Also known as the small or winter ant is found throughout the US and often associated with Oak trees (Gregg 1963; Ebeling 1975; Wheeler and Wheeler 1986). They like damp soil in shady places and are usually the first ants seen in the spring time.

Treatment consists of gels or baits with dust being used in void. Direct liquid treatment to nest site is recommended.

The other potential pest ant is the Black Garden Ant, Lasius species, has workers approximately 2-5 mm in length and is monomorphic. They have several different species with various body colors. Black Garden Ants are found throughout the US. This ant forms mega-colonies with multiple queens. They tend aphids for honeydew and eat living and dead insects. They love sugar-based products inside home. The colony size may reach over 100,000 ants and cover very large areas.

One colony in Europe covered northern Spain, southern France into northern Italy. That is like saying one colony covering an area from New York City down to Washington DC. This may be an exaggeration but you get the idea. Anything you do on a property may only be like trimming your finger nails. The colony will bounce back very quickly. A very aggressive approach would be needed and only a service manager with the technician can ascertain what the proper approach would be.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Non-toxic Rodent Bait Blocks

By Ralph H Maestre BCE

Non-toxic baits also known as monitoring/tracking baits (MTBs) are being used as part of our “Green Certified Services”, in our Park Jobs, and Food Processing Programs in an effort to reduce overall rodenticide use and following integrated pest management (IPM) principles. Magic has been introducing non-toxic baits into other aspects of our daily pest management programs. Magic uses only the product known as DETEX® Blox with Biomarker by Bell Labs®. After reading a recent article in the Techletter by Pinto & Associates’ May 27th, 2012, I thought it would be a good idea to share it with you. Non-toxic rodent bait blocks are used for many different reasons and the article listed 18 of them. My opinion is marked of by the Bold, Italic, and Underline:

1. Because they are non-toxic, blocks can be placed in areas where toxic baits may not be permitted. There are minimal safety or regulatory concerns, and no worries about non-target poisoning or bait translocation. This will reduce the chances of secondary poisoning in all our baiting programs. Our clients have strong concerns regarding their pets and wildlife such as hawks. Magic cares and we show this by only using rodenticides when and where required.

2. Limiting the use of toxic bait and increased reliance on monitoring for rodent activity appeals to customers who want an integrated pest management component. Biomonitoing for rodent can be part of your “green” service offerings. Without any doubt, this is a very important point of the “Certified Green Shield Services” we are offering to customers.

3. The presence of rodent tooth marks on non-toxic blocks placed in bait stations and other sites provides positive evidence of rodent infestation that can be presented to the customer. You can even give blocks to customers for placement so they can check for gnawing activity themselves. It is our company policy not to give our clients materials. If they request it, we will place it in tamper resistant bait stations for them and service the equipment. Gnawing either non-toxic or toxic bait will provide positive evidence of rodent activity.

4. Use of non-toxic blocks in pre-baiting programs helps overcome bait shyness. It gets the rodents used to feeding on an actual bait block, rather than people food, to make the transition easier when you substitute toxic blocks. It’s best to use the same manufacturer’s rodenticide so that the shapes of the block and food base are the same. Magic does use the same manufacturer. Remember this may require some time before the rodents are re-trained to feed on bait blocks if they became bait shy. Our customers will need to be educated about this process.

5. Non-toxic blocks can be used to pinpoint active feeding sites, telling you where to concentrate your control efforts. Bait sites where you suspect rodent activity and check back a few days later to see which blocks have the most gnawing tooth marks. Make note of these locations because this is where you should place your toxic baits or traps. If the blocks are untouched, don’t bother baiting or trapping there. Make more placements in sites with the greatest amount of feeding. In an IPM program using non-toxic bait will promote reduce pesticide usage and provide minimum risk to non-target mammals.

6. You’ll use less rodenticide because pre-baiting with MTBs will have located travel routes and harborage sites where toxic baits can be concentrated, giving the best results and wasting less bait. Reducing the use of rodenticide in and around our client’s establishments is our goal while targeting the problem areas. This is the responsible direction that Magic is taking.

7. Non-toxic blocks help you determine the size of the population by gauging the amount of feeding. Is there a lot of gnawing or only a little? Do you have to replace blocks that were completely eaten? The amount of dyed droppings also gives clues about the size of the infestation. As our professionalism grows with education, we will be able to outperform our competition by finding the source of the rodent problems quickly and not just masking it.

8. Monitoring blocks can be used to track the movement of rodents through their dyed dropping to help determine where to place traps or toxic bait. You can assess travel routes or runways, travel distance, nest locations, and entry points by observing droppings. Place MTBs in ceiling voids to determine whether rodents are active in these spaces. Although other methods may be used such as visual inspections, sometimes we lose the path to where they nest because the rodents disappear into a voids and exist elsewhere. Using rodenticides straight up may cause the rodent to become disoriented and give us false trails back to their nest or entry points.

9. Find rodent entry points using MTBs. To determine whether rodents are moving into facility from outside, place MTB-baited stations only on the outside. Dyed dropping seen inside will confirm that rodents are moving in from outside. This is one of the most important points. When we find the entry point and exclude it we solve pest problems.

10. Use the blocks for ongoing monitoring in sensitive accounts. In food facilities and warehouses, for example, use the blocks as early warning signs to identify incoming rodent infestations, and to gauge the success of your controls. More and more regulations will require us to document how we perform our rodent control programs. By monitoring and documenting our decision process will separate Magic from our competitors as highly professional and responsible.

11. Maintain baiting continuity in an ongoing rodenticide baiting program by replacing bait at inactive stations with MTBs. This allows you to keep the station in place and on your map and converts it to a temporary monitoring station ready to revert back to toxic bait when activity is noticed. A good point in reducing our overall rodenticide use yet maintaining a program that allows us to document and quickly introduce the rodenticide without creating bait shyness. Less paperwork in our logbooks since we will not have to replace or modify our maps. This will result in quick control of an emerging rodent problem.

12. Use the blocks as part of UV blacklight inspections. We already use UV light to detect rodent urine, but now the dropping of rodents that have fed on DETEX with Biomarker will also glow neon green under UV light. Using a handheld blacklight to track rodent movement gives an added component to inspections. This will provide quicker inspections, reducing callbacks, and initiation of quicker rodent controls. In dark areas where we have a hard time distinguishing between small particles and rodent droppings, the Biomarker will allow us to save time and confirm rodent pathways.

13. Improve trapping results by adding MTBs to snap traps, glueboards, or multi-catch rodent traps. The blocks serve as a food bait to entice rodents to the traps and also keep rodents alive until multi-catch traps can be serviced. This may provide limited results since most rodents will die first from stress or hypothermia while inside a mutli-catch devise. It may be useful on large rat mats.

14. MTBs can help determine whether burrows are active. Use a blacklight to see if dropping in the burrow fluoresce (DETEX only). Since many of us cannot tell if a rodent burrow is active this may be useful.

15. With practice, you can read the gnawing on the block baits to identify the pest and any non-targets feeding. Rodents gnaw at the edges of the block while insects will eat depressions in the block. Mouse gnawing leaves fine lines on the edges while rats leave larger and more distinctive tooth marks or grooves. This will occur on either non-toxic or toxic bait. The education is valuable. Each of you should take notes and learn this point.

16. Survey sewers by wiring the block to the manhole cover or top rung of the ladder and dropping it down onto a ledge (don’t enter the manhole unless you have had confined spaces training and are in compliance with all rules). We rarely service the sewers manholes directly. We do service the catch basins, so this point applies directly to catch basins.

17. MTBs are exempt from EPA’s new rodenticide label changes. You can bait burrows with MTBs and can bait any distance from a building, along fencelines, wherever. Using MTBs for perimeter baiting means you are not killing other non-target small mammals. This is very important since many of our clients desire tamper resistant bait stations along the fencelines on their properties. This allows us to monitor activity and find the burrow system quicker than just monitoring along the perimeter of the home or building structure. At times rodent problems occur in an open fieldor groundcover are that the new label laws prohibit from using bait stations with rodenticides. An active trapping program would have to be used.

18. Cockroaches will feed on MTBs and their droppings also glow under blacklight. Use DETEX bait blocks in suspect areas to track the movement of American cockroaches, through their droppings, to determine whether or not they are coming from sewers or basements. This will also reduce rodenticide waste and or possible spillage.

As you can read, there is a lot that is offered by using the DETEX® Blox in a rodent program. All 18 point where taken from the May issue of Techletter by Pinto & Associates. More information may be obtain at www.techletter.com