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May 12, 2011 - Ant Baits And Wasps


Realizing that maxforce bait or any other ant bait is not registered for the control of flying insects, I wonder about these baits killing yellow jackets or ground hornets that come in contact with it? In the old days "baits" used for hornets, yellow jackets, etc, were compounded with a sweet attractant. I am a PCO from Massachusetts. Thank you for your time and consideration.

I think the answer needs to be that most ant baits are labeled such that wasps should have no opportunity to come into contact with them, and I don't mean this as a lecture. But taking Terro liquid ant bait as an example, since it would be one that yellowjackets would definitely be interested in if they found it, the Label requires that it be placed within "bait stations designed to hold liquid bait". Advance liquid bait has similar wording, although they refer to "feeder trays", but it seems to me that most, if not all, of the bait stations in our industry used for ant baiting are enclosed, allowing access for ants but keeping out other insects, childrens' fingers, and dogs' tongues. So, used properly for ants the bait would not be exposed so that larger hornets or yellowjackets could access it.

We probably will not see baits come out for things like the large cicada killers, mud daubers, and other large predatory wasps. These solitary wasps pose so little stinging hazard but provide such benefit with their predatory habits that they are far more beneficial than pesty. Most of the ground nesting wasps are going to be these solitary wasps, although yellowjackets definitely may nest in the ground as well. It is only a few of the species of yellowjackets that even come to artificial baits, and these scavenger species are the biggest problems. They are drawn to picnics and outdoor activities where they relentlessly try to get into canned drinks, onto hot dogs and hamburgers, or gather around spills of food materials, and now they represent a serious stinging problem. Fortunately we do have 2 products now labeled for use to mix as a bait for yellowjackets - Onslaught and CyKick. These can be added to chopped meat or sweet syrups, placed in a proper station, and very effectively elminate local nests of scavenger yellowjackets.

But, just supposing these various wasps DID manage to access ant baits. I think most wasps would only be interested in liquid sugar baits as food for themselves, and not to protein ant baits which might be a food source for scavenger yellowjacket larvae. Nearly all those other wasps and hornets stick to natural food supplies, meaning other insects, so granular insect baits (hopefully) would not attract them. Most ant baits use boric acid as the active ingredient, and boric acid must be ingested by the insect to be toxic, so casual physical contact would not harm them. However, some of the baits are now using contact insecticides such as fipronil, so even contacting these baits without eating them could, conceivably, affect a wasp.

Obviously we need to pay close attention to the product labels and how they require the bait to be applied, as well as to the pests listed on the labels. I know we can get frustrated with trying to control ground nesting bees and wasps when the customer demands they be eliminated, but hopefully our desire to throw everything possible at the bugs won't tempt us into using things that should not be used. Scattering granular baits around the area where ground hornets or burrowing bees are active probably won't accomplish anything, but it could expose other wildlife to the bait and result in problems. For yellowjackets we do have bait products that work well. For the others hopefully educating the customers to understand more about the benefits of burrowing wasps and bees will reduce the demands that they be killed.

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