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Pest Manag Sci. 2010 Sep;66(9):980-7. doi: 10.1002/ps.1970.

Impact of ant control technologies on insecticide runoff and efficacy.

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Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.



Insecticides are commonly used for ant control around residential homes, but post-treatment runoff may contribute to contamination of surface water in urban watersheds. This study represents the first instance where runoff of insecticides was directly measured after applications around single family residences. During 2007, houses were treated with bifenthrin or fipronil sprays following standard practices. During 2008, pin stream applicators, spray-free zones and restricting sprays to the house foundation were considered as management options.


During 2007, the resulting runoff from the bifenthrin spray in the irrigation water had a mean concentration of 14.9 microg L(-1) at 1 week post-treatment and 2.5 microg L(-1) at 8 weeks, both high enough to be toxic to sensitive aquatic organisms. In comparison, treatments with bifenthrin granules resulted in no detectable concentrations in the runoff water after 8 weeks. The mean concentration for fipronil used as a perimeter spray was 4.2 microg L(-1) at 1 week post-treatment and 0.01 microg L(-1) at 8 weeks, with the first value also suggesting a potential for causing acute aquatic toxicity to sensitive organisms. During 2008, insecticide runoff was reduced by using spray-free zones and pin stream perimeter applications.


It is shown that insecticide runoff from individual home treatments for ants can be measured and used to improve techniques that minimize runoff. The pin stream application and applications limited to the house foundation should be further evaluated for their potential to reduce pesticide runoff from residential homes.

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