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IPM Strategies for Controlling Ants and Reducing Pesticide Run-off

2011 Grantee: University of California - Riverside
Funding Awarded: $249,193
Fact Sheet PDF (2 pp, 571k, about PDF)


The primary goal of this research project is to develop pest management strategies to control ants in urban environments that reduce pesticide use and prevent pesticide runoff into urban waterways. The team will consist of Pest Management Professionals (PMPs), university researchers and extension personnel, and local and state agencies. The project will focus on the Argentine ant (Linepuhema humile), the ant species most common in Southern California, generating an estimated 85 percent of service calls for pest management in San Diego. Argentine ants are found in residential kitchens, restaurants, hospitals, offices, warehouses, and other buildings where they can find food and water.

A modified chemical pest management approach will be compared against a conventional route for effectiveness, pesticide runoff, and economic differences. This research aims to test and demonstrate ways to reduce the use of pyrethroid sprays in private homes, and discover which pesticide formulations and applications methods are the most effective and have the least runoff.


  • Significantly reduce the use of pyrethroids and fipronil from original practices in treating private homes for Argentine ant infestations
  • Discover which pesticide formulations and application methods are most effective at controlling ants while having the least amount of runoff to the street
  • Form and interactive partnership with PMPs to develop a successful business model that is effective in treating ant infestations while reducing the amount of pesticides used
  • Disseminate the techniques acquired through meetings, brochures, trade publications, a website, and a scientific journal publication


  • Two residential routes, one conventional and one IPM, will be tested. These routes will be implemented by two separate extermination companies for a total of four trials, with 200 homes per trial.
  • Data collected from each route will include: 1) pests present at the time of service, 2) time spent servicing each route, 3) frequency of applications, and 4) kinds and amount of pesticides applied.
  • An economic analysis will determine the cost and feasibility of implementing IPM.
  • Water samples testing for pyrethroids and fipronil from five homes on each of the 4 routes will be collected before, during, and after treatments for analysis totaling 20 homes.
  • Ant numbers in these 20 homes will also be monitored to determine if the treatments are effective.

Knowledge Transfer

  • A video will be produced to illustrate ways to treat and prevent ant home invasions and to reduce pesticide runoff from the treatments used.
  • The Urban Pest Ant Management website Exit EPA Disclaimer will be expanded to offer PMP’s continuing education courses on IPM and educational materials for the homeowner.
  • Training sessions will be conducted during year two at the Annual Urban Pest Conference at UC Riverside, and one meeting will be conducted in San Jose to describe the IPM strategies employed in this project.
  • Project results will be published in peer-reviewed journals and a trade publication.
  • The University Statewide IPM Program will produce a brochure describing the reduced-risk strategies employed during this project and their implementation.
  • Extension personnel will present the findings at trade meetings that are periodically held by organizations such as the Pest Control Operators of California and at courses for continuing education units presented by the university and private businesses.

Desired Outcomes

  • Effective control of ants and other pests while reducing the amount of insecticide used A business model for PMPs that includes reduced risk and IPM strategies.
  • The project aims to demonstrate that these companies can save money by using less pesticide while maintaining efficacy of their treatments. Furthermore, companies will impress customers that they are using the safest techniques with the least environmental impact.
  • Reduce the use of pyrethroids by 75% from original practices in treating private homes for Argentine ant infestations Reduce the use of fipronil by 50% from original practices in treating private homes for Argentine ant infestations
  • Strengthen the partnership between the PMPs and UC Riverside, benefitting PMPs, the environment, and the consumer
  • Implementation of IPM techniques by additional PMPs in response to the project

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