How much will it cost?

Estimating the cost of managing invasive ants on a large scale is difficult as there are so many variables to consider – the cost of the bait, the number of applications, application methods, logistics and salaries of staff among other items. Also, many programmes either do not provide information on costs, and when they do these programmes often cost their work differently.

Here we provide information on getting together a ballpark estimate along with a checklist of the items you need to consider when planning management and a costing workbook (excel workbook) that you can use as a basis for more detailed estimates. Also included are a list of suppliers for treatment products.

Note that if you plan eradication, you are likely to need many rounds of treatment, and the number of rounds needed is difficult to predict in a new area. Eradication requires a firm commitment to ongoing funding and requires careful consideration as a goal unless funding has some certainty, the problem is extreme, or the area to be treated is small.

Ballpark estimationsDetailed costing : Suppliers of treatment products

Once you have a budget, you can start to look for funding.

Ballpark estimations

Hoffmann and colleagues reviewed 29 successful eradications and calculated bait purchase and delivery (aerial or manual application) costs (i.e. no staff costs, no freight costs and no monitoring costs). The USD per hectare cost for aerial eradications was $2,885 per hectare, and the cost for manual application was $822 per hectare. This was from a total of 144 successful eradications (out of 316 eradication attempts). Note that treatment product costs can be as little as 5% of the total cost.

The costs below are based on individual programmes in the PIAT ant management database, which collated costs for all attempts at management (eradication and control) regardless of success or failure. These are estimated in USD per programme, per hectare and include all costs (to date).  For example, from this we can estimate the average fully absorbed cost per hectare for the seven manual baiting programmes is USD18,966.


  Site   Aerial $ per ha   Manual $ per ha   Combined $ per ha   Species   Goal   Goal achieved
Causton, Sevilla, Porter. 2005   Galapagos       13,680       little fire ant   eradication   yes
Lach, Barker. 2013    Smithfield       39,810       little fire ant   eradication   ongoing 
Lach, Barker. 2013   Lord Howe       12,670       African big-headed ant   eradication   mostly - ongoing
Boser, Hanna, Holway, Faulkner, Naughton, Merrill, Cory, Choe, Morrison. 2017   Channel Islands   *1,900           Argentine ant   eradication   yes - monitoring ongoing
Burne, Barbieri, Gruber. 2015-2019   Atafu       3,730       yellow crazy ant   control   yes - monitoring ongoing
Burne, Gruber. 2015-2019   Kiritimati       22,180       yellow crazy ant   eradication   yes - monitoring ongoing
Lach, Hoskin 2015   Cairns               yellow crazy ant   eradication   ongoing
Lach, Barker. 2013   Yarwun             2,664   red imported fire ant   eradication    yes - but reinfested 
Lach, Barker. 2013   Brisbane           3,990   red imported fire ant   eradication   ongoing 
Hoffmann, O'Connor. 2004   Kakadu       1,381        tropical fire ant   eradication   yes
Hoffmann, O'Connor. 2004   Kakadu       1,381        African big-headed ant   eradication   yes

*$500 is monitoring costs using lures spaced every 10 m

It is clear there are great variations in costs of these programmes. The ballpark estimations should be only considered a guideline. Each programme ideally needs to be costed individually (excel workbook).

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Detailed costing

First go through the planning process, and choose the appropriate treatment option. The below components are incorporated in the costing workbook (excel workbook) .

Cost component


Develop management plan 


You can use a management plan template from the PIAT (see Pacific Biosecurity's case studies). Include provisions for  treatment and monitoring protocols, and make sure to think about environmental impact assessment.

Allow for staff time to update the management plan after treatment and monitoring events, and be prepared to adapt and change the plan according to progress.

Approvals / permits


Sometimes approvals or permits can be costly and time consuming. Suppliers of treatment products will want to have evidence that you have sought and obtained approvals from the appropriate authorities. This will depend on legislation in the country where the work is being done, and on funder requirements.

Treatment product


For eradication using broadcast treatment, the same amount of product is applied in subsequent treatments, so there is no reduction in cost in subsequent treatments.

Estimate how much product you will need based on the guidelines for the treatment option you have chosen.

Application gear


In the treatment option you have chosen you will find specifications for all the gear you need.

If using granular baits, you should use hand-held spreaders at least (simply distributing granules with small buckets or by hand results in patchy application and high chances of failure). Consider blowers if your target species nests and or / forages primarily in trees.

Safety gear


See your chosen treatment option for more detail on requirements.

Include, at the very minimum, nitrile gloves for granular and paste treatments. Spray treatments might require masks and protective clothing.v However, it is also important not to use more safety gear than you need as this can cause alarm among residents and make the treatment seem dangerous when it is not.

Monitoring gear


Include materials for luring, card counts, pitfall trapping etc. as outlined in monitoring.



Freight costs can be very high for isolated locations. If you have options of obtaining the treatment product from multiple suppliers, consider choosing a supplier located somewhere that trade is common with your area.

Some treatment products are classified as dangerous goods. If you are not familiar with dangerous goods shipping, it is often simplest to use a freight forwarding service.

Remember to include customs or other duty charges.

Staff transport costs for treatmentmonitoring


If staff are not located at the site of the management effort, ensure sufficient funds for transport and per-diems or other allowances.

If the site is isolated, ensure sufficient contingency in case of delays (10-20% or sometimes higher depending on the specific situation). Also ensure adequate insurance is included, and provision for emergency evacuation from remote areas if applicable.

Staff salary costs for treatment


The length of time required to undertake treatment will be influenced by terrain, isolation, the type of treatment, the number of treatments planned, the number of staff available, and the goal (e.g. one off treatment to reduce numbers versus eradication).

As a guideline, granular bait application with hand-held spreaders over flat terrain will take a team of six people around 1 -2 hours per hectare (with two people managing the movement of gear and 4 doing the spreading). Ensure enough staff are available to undertake treatment as quickly as possible to avoid bait shyness.

Allow time for safety briefings and stakeholder meetings prior to treatment if the treatment is occurring in or around an inhabited area. This should all be outlined in the management plan as part of social impact considerations.

Also allow for pre-treatment monitoring to assess initial abundance of the target species and establish a baseline for estimating non-target effects.

Staff costs for monitoring


Monitoring costs are typically far greater than treatment costs.

Eradication is typically only declared once an area has been free of the pest for at least 2 years. For Argentine ants this may be significantly longer as new colonies can be produced without queens.

As a guide allow for monitoring twice a year once eradication appears to have been successful.

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Suppliers of treatment products

The treatment product is a very small part of the costs – salaries and transport and other logistics costs will make up the majority of the budget.  

Information about the cost of treatment products and suppliers can be obtained direct form the manufacturer. The table below gives the websites and contact details for manufacturers of treatment products mentioned in this toolkit.

Company website Contact Products
Animal Control Technologies Australia Antoff®, Presto®
BASF Australia / New Zealand Termidor®, Siesta®, Ripcord Plus®, Amdro®
Bayer Online form Maxforce® bait stations, Maxforce® Quantum, Maxforce® Complete
Central Ant Control “All States” representative Tango®
Flybusters Antiants X-Stinguish®, Vanquish-Pro®, AntBan®, Permex® insect
Innovative Pest Control Products Gourmet® bait stations
Johnson Online form Raid III® ant bait stations, Raid® Liquid
Key Industries Online form Carbodox®, Key Beta®, Biff Ant®, X-it Ant®, Exterm- an -ant®, Biforce®
Sherwood Chemicals Delta Force®, Biforce®
Sumitomo Online form Synergy Pro®, Campaign®, Engage P®, Distance Plus®, Synergy Pro®
Syngenta Australia Arilon®, Advion®, Provaunt®
Syngenta New Zealand Online form Arilon®, Advion®, Provaunt®
Valent USA Corp Online form Esteem®
Zoecon Online form Probait®

Information sources

Hoffmann, Luque, Bellard, Holmes, Donlan. 2016. Improving invasive ant eradication as a conservation tool: A review. Biological Conservation 198 (2016) 37–49. Grateful thanks also to Ben Hoffmann for sharing the raw data for costs from this paper

PIAT invasive ant management database and information sources

content reviewed by Richard Griffith, Island Conservation, September 2016

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