New Gel Bait
Now Available for Fire Ant Control
By Jan Suszkiw
June 12, 2003
Fine--but deadly--dining awaits pesky
ants that sample a new bait gel formulation developed by
Agricultural Research Service scientists
and a cooperating company.
Waterbury Companies, Inc. will sell the
new bait gel as Drax NutraBait later this month pending
Environmental Protection Agency registration
on its use for odorous house-, pavement-, pharaoh-, little black-, ghost-,
Argentine-, carpenter- and crazy ants.
ARS and Waterbury recently applied for a joint patent on the bait gel
formulation since it is eaten by fire ants--a first for such products,
according to Guadalupe Rojas, an entomologist at ARS' Southern Regional
Research Center (SRRC) in New
Orleans, LA. Rojas and ARS entomologist Juan Morales-Ramos began working on the
new formulation there about three years ago to lure the tiny, stinging pests
away from bait traps intended to kill Formosan subterranean termites. Both
pests are targets of large-scale ARS research and control projects in the
Under a cooperative agreement signed in 2002, Waterbury researchers Ligia
Hernandez and Jonathan Peters collaborated with the ARS entomologists to refine
and adapt the formulation to Waterbury's bait gel specifications. Waterbury
indicates it has supplied experimental use samples to university scientists for
independent testing in side-by-side comparisons with other products.
ARS' bait gel tests include ongoing, areawide trials at four fire
ant-infested sites: ARS-SRRC; the ARS
Fruits Research Unit in Poplarville, Miss.; a residential neighborhood in
Poplarville; and the Mississippi State
University Experiment Station.
Observing and chemically analyzing what the pest likes to eat at different
times of the year was critical to the entomologists' development of the bait
formulation, which comprises a specific mixture of carbohydrates, lipids and
proteins. The final product is a weather-resistant, yellow gel that the ants
will eat year-round and that can be squeezed onto both flat and vertical
surfaces. It contains 5 percent boric acid, which, in tests, killed fire ant
colonies in two months or less, depending on their size and the season.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.