A research team at the University of California-Riverside is working on an inexpensive, biodegradable, seaweed-based bait for Argentine ants (Linepithema humile).
The Argentine ant is an invasive species with a worldwide distribution. It is a major nuisance in southern states including Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, and North Carolina, and also in California. In fact, a 2007 survey found that 85 percent of all urban pest control services in California were focused on the Argentine ant.
The patent-pending “hydrogel” bait looks like a liquid gel capsule, with a gelatinous consistency, and does not need to be dispensed in a bait station. Since material used is similar to what is used in diapers, they “retain water so that they will remain attractive to ants for an extended amount of time,” according to the university.
Jia-Wei Tay, a post-doctoral scholar and lead author of the paper says “hydrogels” eliminate the need for the bait stations.
“The hydrogels are applied on the ground where the ants forage. Once an ant finds the hydrogel, it drinks from the surface of it,” Tay said. “It then goes back to its nest and shares the toxic liquid with nest mates. The ants also create a trail to the hydrogels that their nest mates will follow.”
The team also is measuring the bait’s effectiveness in southern California citrus groves.