argentine ants

Credit: D-H Choe Lab, UC Riverside

Argentine ants are common throughout California.

If there's such a thing as a universal pest in California, it is the Argentine ant. Sometimes called the sugar ant, often called names not appropriate here, the South American insect has successfully invaded urban, agricultural and natural settings throughout the state and across the country.

No doubt you've battled them in times of rain and of drought, in heat and in cold. You've probably sprayed, set bait, sprinkled borax powder or even cinnamon, to kill the tiny pests — or at least to keep them away.

Folks, we've got that half wrong.

Entomologists at UC Riverside have developed a "pheromone-assisted technique" to get the most out of conventional insecticide sprays. The pheromone works like the story line of a vintage Raid commercial: It lures ants from their trails and nests to the insecticide, which then kills them dead.

The big benefit, according to project leader Dong-Hwan Choe, is that maximizing insecticide's effectiveness through the "attract and kill" approach minimizes the amount of the poison in the environment.

Read the complete story at UC Riverside Today