Almond Matters: Ant Management Approaches with Harvest Around the Corner

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In today’s Almond Matters, brought to you by Valent U.S.A., ant management will be a major priority with harvest on the horizon. Field Market Development Specialist with Valent U.S.A., Todd Burkdoll said he expects harvest to come sometime in early August. Management approaches will be the most effective prior to harvest when ants have access to nuts on the ground.

Ant Management

“Once those nuts hit the ground, they’re shook off the trees, that becomes a smorgasbord for ants and especially with varieties that have softer shells on them,” Burkdoll explained. “Left unchecked, [ants] can do significant damage to the nuts. Basically, they eat out the inside and then you have a blank or a partial kernel.”

Both southern fire ants and pavement ants can cause considerable harm. Burkdoll said that during high crop years like the current one, nuts are typically smaller and have tighter shells. “That may be an advantage, just naturally. However, there’s still ants out there,” Burkdoll noted.

Using baits is the recommended method for ant management. Burkdoll said that insect growth regulators (IGRs) can be very effective baits when used correctly. Coordinating bait applications with irrigation will help to ensure efficacy. Burkdoll recommends allowing two to three days between irrigation cycles to make an application when the ground is dry. Also, putting out an IRG well before harvest is imperative for allowing time for bait to be carried back to the colony.

“Esteem is an IGR, so it needs to be taken back to the colony and then the members of the colony ingest it. Once they’ve imbibed, it’s lights out,” said Burkdoll. “The queen will be sterile. So, the eggs she lays are not viable. Then the larva don’t molt out to be adults. So, it really fouls things up within the colony. It’s not a fast-acting material. It takes about anywhere from seven to nine days to see complete mortality. But it is very effective; at very low doses too as well.”

Listen to the report below.