Which Bait is Best to Control Ant Swarmers?

Here’s a question that I get sometimes: What Gel Bait is Best for Ant Swarmers?

First of all, let’s take a quick stroll through the ant world to see what a swarmer is, anyhow.

A carpenter ant swarmer. Source: Alex Wilde.

A carpenter ant swarmer. Source: Alex Wilde.

Swarmers (technically known as alates) are winged ants. Winged ants are normally the reproductive caste of an ant. Ant society is divided into different castes, which is a fancy way of saying that they are divided into various job duties, which they are born into. Some are born to work, these belong to the worker caste. Others – depending upon the species – are born to fight. These belong to the solider caste. And others are born to reproduce – these belong to the reproductive caste.

Reproductives start off with wings. These are called alates or swarmers. They have a mating flight, where they find reproductives from other ant colonies (ants have a taboo on inbreeding, just like we do) and mate. The male swarmers have served their sole function in the world and die. The female swarmers loose their wings and become queens, whose primary function is laying eggs.

Now, let’s head back to the initial question: which gel bait is best for ant swarmers?

The answer is easy. None. They are interested in mating and founding a colony (aside from the males who just wander off and die), not in eating. Bait doesn’t work on swarmers.

I normally recommend people to use a fast acting aerosol or dust insecticide for control of swarmers. Don’t under apply – this is a case where you want to use the highest application rate allowed by the label. A fast acting liquid insecticide can work, too.