In today’s Almond Matters, brought to you by Valent, ant identification is an essential factor in planning any kind of ant management strategies. Monitoring for and identifying ant species that may be in almond orchards is especially important as not all ants pose a risk to almonds. Some ant species are actually considered to be more beneficial than they are harmful.
“There’s really two species that you really care about: southern fire ant is the main one that’s throughout most of the almond production regions, particularly in the south,” said David Haviland, Entomology Farm Advisor with UC Cooperative Extension in Kern County. “Then the other ant you want to be looking for is pavement ant. It’s more common in the northern part of the San Joaquin Valley.”
Pavement ants are dark brown with ridges on their heads, preferring to next in sandy or loam soils. The southern fire ant is black and red and will swarm when the entrance to their nests are disturbed. Haviland recommends that growers review the UC Integrated Pest Management guidelines for ant management for more thorough information to aid with identification. “Lots of other ants are also out there, you know argentine ants, pyramid ants, harvester ants, but none of those cause any harm at all to almonds,” said Haviland.
Monitoring orchards in April and May will allow growers ample opportunity to plan the timing of their management strategies. “Traditional programs are to treat around May, maybe even into June, with bait products,” Haviland noted. “The reason you treat then is because it takes about six or eight weeks for most of the bait products to reach full efficacy. So, if you’re treating in May or June, that sets you up to have the best possible ant control around the time you start shaking trees in August.”
Listen to the report below.