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Posts Tagged: control

Controlling ants the healthy way

To help control ants inside, wipe them up, along with their chemical trails, with an all-purpose cleaner, and fill tiny gaps, cracks and holes with caulk to make their entry difficult.

Spotting ants in the home or yard is no reason to reach for insecticide sprays or call an exterminator. UC Cooperative Extension experts say the insects can be managed by residents in ways that are effective, inexpensive, safe and environmentally kind.

“Ants are probably the No. 1 most common pests of our homes and gardens,” said Carolyn Kinnon, an environmental horticulturist and instructional associate at Mira Costa Community College. “Scientists find chemicals in our waterways that include pesticides commonly used to kill ants.”

Kinnon teamed up with UCCE community education specialist Scott Parker to present a Healthy Garden-Healthy Home online ant workshop during the COVID-19 pandemic to take the place of a planned in-person event. Healthy Garden-Healthy Home was initiated in 2005 with a grant from the California State Water Resources Control Board and continues with funding from San Diego County. With the move online, the workshop attracted four times more participants that usual.

“A silver lining of the COVID disaster has been our ability to reach out to many more individuals,” Parker said.

Healthy Gardens-Healthy Homes aims to cut residents' use of chemicals and reduce soil erosion that can wash into gutters with irrigation or rain water, course through storm drains and into streams, reservoirs and the Pacific Ocean. During the recent UCCE webinar on healthy ant control, Kinnon introduced science-based solutions that can be combined to keep ants at bay.

Use ant biology to battle ants

Ants are always looking for food and will forage any accessible source. Short circuiting this biological need is the first approach to controlling the pest. Outside, ants are often attracted to a sticky, sweet honeydew that pests like aphids leave behind when they feed on plants. Washing off aphids and honeydew with a sharp stream of water from the hose reduces the food source.

In spring, Kinnon said, ants like to feed on proteins, like seeds, nuts, dog food and other fatty substances. Fallen nuts, bird seed and leftover pet food should be discarded to reduce ant activity.

“When honeydew production from sap-sucking insects declines in the hot summer, and there is an absence of food sources outdoors, ants may come indoors,” she said. “Ants will travel several hundred feet in search for food.”

Removing inside food sources – like spills on counters and floors – and blocking access – by filling in holes and cracks – is the first defense against an indoor ant invasion. Kinnon recommends keeping food containers clean and sealed, rinsing empty recyclables – particularly sugar-sweetened beverages – and wiping up grease on barbecues and stove tops.

Wipe up ants and their chemical trails with an all-purpose cleaner, and fill tiny gaps, cracks and holes with caulk to make their entry difficult.

Managing expectations

Another way to achieve environmentally friendly ant management is coming to terms with the fact that they can't be eliminated from outdoor areas.

“Our goal is to focus on reducing population numbers,” Kinnon said. “We have to tolerate a certain number.”

Spraying a pesticide on an ant trail or sprinkling granular pesticides will only kill a fraction of the ants in the yard. Those materials can run off and pollute watersheds.

Baits

If cleaning up food sources, exclusionary measures and increased tolerance aren't enough, pesticide baits are an additional integrated pest management tool.

“This works because female worker ants take the bait back to the nest and feed it to other ants in the colony,” Kinnon said.

The bait must be slow acting so it doesn't kill the worker before she gets back to the colony. Kinnon recommended baits with no more than .5% active ingredient. For best bait placement, follow trails to find the nest and place the bait close by in a safe bait station. If the nest can't be found, the bait station can be placed along the trail.

Posted on Friday, July 24, 2020 at 1:26 PM
Focus Area Tags: Family, Pest Management

Those Amazing Ticks: And How Hungry Ticks Work Harder to Find You

Two Dermacentor occidentalis (Pacific Coast ticks)

They ticked me off. Ticks can do that to you. I never think about ticks during the holiday season, but a news release from the University of...

Two Dermacentor occidentalis (Pacific Coast ticks)
Two Dermacentor occidentalis (Pacific Coast ticks) "collected" during a Sonoma outing: male on the left and female on right, as identified by Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. They are about the size of a sesame seed. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Two Dermacentor occidentalis (Pacific Coast ticks) "collected" during a Sonoma outing: male on the left and female on right, as identified by Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. They are about the size of a sesame seed. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 5:00 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Health, Pest Management, Yard & Garden

A Glimpse of George Compere, a Pioneer in Biological Control

The Bohart Museum of Entomology is featuring a memorial exhibit showcasing a biological control pioneer, George Compere (1858-1928).

"George Compere." Non-entomologists may not recall his name, but entomologists--especially those who study biological control--definitely do. And...

The Bohart Museum of Entomology is featuring a memorial exhibit showcasing a biological control pioneer, George Compere (1858-1928).
The Bohart Museum of Entomology is featuring a memorial exhibit showcasing a biological control pioneer, George Compere (1858-1928).

The Bohart Museum of Entomology is featuring a memorial exhibit showcasing a biological control pioneer, George Compere (1858-1928).

Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 at 5:00 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture, Environment, Innovation, Pest Management, Yard & Garden

Managing Weevils in Alfalfa Hay Production

Harvesting alfalfa weevil trials

It's that time of year again to watch for those evil alfalfa weevils! Weevils are key pests of alfalfa, causing yield and quality losses mainly to...

Posted on Friday, February 2, 2018 at 9:03 AM
Tags: alfalfa (55), control (3), forage quality (1), weevils (3)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

Of Termites, Bed Bugs and Cockroaches

UC ANR urban entomologist Vernard Lewis stands by his Villa Termiti, built just for termite research. (UC ANR Photo)

We're all going to miss him. The termites, bed bugs and cockroaches--not so much. "Him" is Vernard Lewis, who terminated termites, bugged bed bugs,...

UC ANR urban entomologist Vernard Lewis stands by his Villa Termiti, built just for termite research. (UC ANR Photo)
UC ANR urban entomologist Vernard Lewis stands by his Villa Termiti, built just for termite research. (UC ANR Photo)

UC ANR urban entomologist Vernard Lewis stands by his Villa Termiti, built just for termite research. (UC ANR Photo)

Madagascar hissing cockroaches at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Madagascar hissing cockroaches at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Madagascar hissing cockroaches at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 2:43 PM
 
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