PMPs relied on more than one approach to control ants. Most often they employed pesticide applications (99 percent) like baits, aerosols, dusts and liquid concentrates, followed by sanitation (45 percent) and exclusion (37 percent) practices, found the 2022 PCT State of the Ant Control Market survey. The primary control method for 92 percent of PMPs was pesticide application.

The type of pesticide used and where it was applied varied by ant. “There’s not one pesticide or one bait that does it all,” reminded Wade Wilson, Turner Pest Control. “With ants, there can be so many different plays in the playbook” and this makes ongoing training essential, he said.

Also important is conducting thorough inspections, both inside and out, said PMPs in follow-up interviews. Without this, technicians merely guess at where to apply pesticide and even which type of pesticide product to use. Applying the wrong product, a repellent for instance, may cause Pharaoh, odorous house and Argentine ant colonies to panic and bud, or splinter, thus creating more nests and even bigger problems.

Shawn Rich, Etown Exterminating, doesn’t want his technicians to use the same treatment over and over. “I definitely want them to make an inspection and then tailor that service to that particular structure,” he said. “We’re there because of our expertise. Anybody can buy insecticides, but you’ve got to know how to apply it and know what to look for,” he reminded.

Proper inspections and treatment take time. “If you take that extra little time, maybe that helps you in the long term to where you’re not going back for a bunch of callbacks because you rushed the job,” said Trevor Taulman, Taulman Pest Control. The average callback rate for ant control was 5.2 percent, found the PCT survey.

Application technique is critical. “The method trumps the material,” said United Pest Solutions’ Ron Wikstrom. His technicians are trained to put gel bait, for instance, where ants are foraging but not where they’ll draw ants to visible areas like countertops. This way, customers don’t continue to see ants and grow frustrated with the treatment, which requires time to work since the ants must carry the material back to the colony and transfer it among themselves.

Most often, PMPs said ants were found in kitchens (81 percent), around perimeter foundation walls (64 percent), along structural guidelines (56 percent), around windows (52 percent), and among trees and shrubs (51 percent).