Don’t Think That Ants Can’t!
By Dr. Stuart Mitchell
Living is social colonies that are generally established in decaying wood or soil, ants are one of the most pestiferous challenges for pest management professionals. Since generally thought of as a nuisance pest, don’t think that ants can’t be a significant threat to food safety and health!
Possibly cue foraging into food service areas, ants can populate and contaminate stored commodities, food preparation equipment, utensils, and surfaces. Secondary mechanical contamination or infection may also result. For example, if ants are actively foraging within a hospital and locate patients with IV drug infusions, infection control protocols are violated and serious patient comorbidities may result.
Critical inspection skills beyond visual observations are essential. Information based determination of the pest ant species will provide behavioral boundaries that can isolate the source of an infestation. Evidences of ant infestations can be gleaned from important sources.
✔ Types of information.
- Species present
- Scope of infestation
- Information on the structure (potential entry routes)
- Hygiene and housekeeping requirements
- Risk to public health
- Proposed control methods
- Exclusion recommendations
✔ Visible evidence. Passive and active monitors can provide tangible evidence of pest activity. In addition, monitors serve as an archive of pest pressures. Sticky traps can gauge the extent of an infestation prior to a treatment as well as success post-treatment.
✔ Information evidence. Prior information on the property can include historical sightings reported or declared from memory by inhabitants. Even though inhabitant sightings are a source of information, physical inspections must confirm the accuracy of such reports (types of pests, numbers, timescale, etc.) due to vagaries of human memory. Written or recorded informational sources are the best corroborating evidences.
Physical inspections allow for a risk assessment to be determined prior to any potential treatment. In addition, a quality control function is carried out to reconcile the success of, and/or indicate modifications to, the cyclic pest management model.