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Argentine, Rover Ants Making Inroads in Mississippi

|  September 8, 2006

JACKSON, Miss. — The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., talked with several pest management professionals about dealing with ant problems. The most common pests are Argentine ants, though Rover ants are beginning to make their presence felt in Mississippi. Here are some highlights of the article:

A dry spring and summer have driven the tiny insects indoors in droves looking for food and water. To kick out the critters for good, pest professionals recommend treating homes inside and out.

To stop the stampede, Billy Stutts of Stutts Pest Control sprays the perimeter of house with a nonrepellent insecticide. The ants then take the poison back to their colony and transfer it to the other ants.

“In theory one ant can come out and kill the whole colony,” he said.

Stutts also will spray around doors, windows, flower beds, driveways and trees. Chemical bait is then laid inside the home, usually in the kitchen and places where ants enter the house in search of food or water.

“These products are very safe,” Stutts said about the pesticides. “They’re tough on insects and easy on people.”

Treating a house inside and out is important, Stutts said, because once a scout ant has blazed a trail through a person’s home with its scent, other ants from its colony will keep following.

The little black ants have been so prevalent this season that people who have their homes treated regularly by pest control specialists have gotten visits from the bugs.

Another reason little ants are popping up in places where they haven’t usually roamed is because a new type has been proliferating in Southern states, said Joe MacGown, assistant curator of the Mississippi Entomological Museum.

“There’s another introduced ant called the rover ant,” said MacGown, who is writing a paper about the emergence of the ants. “They’re getting into businesses in the Jackson area.”

Finding the source of the insects can be key to cutting off their trail, said Mike Smallwood of Mike’s Pest Control in Richland.

“Some types of ants will have a bed or some place outside,” he said. “Usually it’s very hard to find. It’s not like a fire ant bed or normal-sized ants.”

Because the ant beds can be so difficult to locate, Smallwood said it’s important to lay bait inside a home for ants to take back to their nests. Pest professionals can vary the bait until the ants get a satisfying meal of poison.

Smallwood said he often gets calls from homeowners after they’ve given up on trying to rid their houses of ants with store-bought ant traps and insecticide. “They usually end up spending more time and money than if they went ahead and called a professional,” he said.

For the complete story, click here.

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