Treatment program and chemical bait applicator

The electric ant treatment process is quick, effective and safe for humans and pets.

Broadcast bait

Broadcast baiting is used as an effective means of distributing bait for electric ants. It is collected by the worker ants and taken to the queens of colonies in the vicinity. It can affect colonies not visible to surveillance personnel, and is a quick method of covering broad areas.

How broadcast bait works

Broadcast ant baits are made of small pieces of corn grit (about 1–3mm) that are soaked in soybean oil and either the metabolic inhibitor hydramethylnon or the insect growth regulator methoprene. The baits are less than 1% active and are non-residual which means the chemical breaks down quickly and has a low toxicity to both animals and humans.

Hydramethylnon is a slow-acting insecticide which is especially effective against the queen ant. Worker ants will find the bait granules, carry them back to the nest and pass them to the queen and other nest-mates. Ants that have ingested these baits die in approximately 72 hours.

Hydramethylnon works by disrupting the metabolic processes of the electric ants, preventing the ants from digesting food. This effectively starves them.

Baits containing an insect growth regulator interfere with the growth or development of ants by deteriorating the reproductive organs of the queen and affecting larvae development. The lack of worker replacement results in colony death as the existing worker ants age and die. Within 3 to 4 weeks there is substantial colony mortality and within 8 weeks the majority of the colony has been eliminated.

Bait application

On an average suburban residential block (approximately 1,000m2), about 250g of bait will be used in each treatment (approximately half a teaspoon/m2). As the baits contain less than 1% of the chemical, very little chemical (about 2g) will be contained within the corn grits distributed on an average block during each treatment.

Residents should not irrigate treatment areas for 24 hours before and after application as moisture can turn the bait mouldy and make it unattractive to ants. Landholders should not handle or make contact with the bait. If contact occurs, wash hands (or contact area) well. This bait may irritate the eyes.

Effects of bait on humans and animals

All baits specifically target insects and are of very low toxicity to humans and animals. At the concentrations used in the baits, skin irritation or other health effects would not be expected to occur. If absorbed, these chemicals are rapidly passed out of the body. They do not build up in the body.

After the baits are distributed, they rapidly break down, particularly in direct sunlight. After 1 day in the sun, very little insecticide is present in any bait material remaining on the ground.

Scientific testing does not indicate that these insecticides can cause birth defects. The way the baits are used is not considered to pose a risk to pregnant women or their unborn babies. However, it is always important to minimise exposure to all chemicals during pregnancy.

These chemicals are not considered to cause cancer.

Precautions required when using baits

The electric ant bait treatments are considered to pose negligible risks to public health or the health of pets. Children should be prevented from crawling on baited areas or trying to eat bait material for at least a day after treatment. Apart from the precautionary measures listed above, no other specific health precautions are considered necessary for householders. It is safe to walk on ground that has been treated with baits, although it is preferable that treated areas are left undisturbed for at least 24 hours to maximise uptake of the bait by the ants.

Given the low toxicity of the baits, no adverse health effects would be expected. However, if you think someone has become sick as the direct result of electric ant baits, seek medical advice and attention from your family doctor. You must also notify Biosecurity Queensland of the medical event on 13 25 23 after consultation with your doctor.

For further information, contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.