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How to Control Fire Ants
You won’t soon forget the fiery sting of the aggressive South American fire ant! It’s hard not to panic when you realize that your property has been invaded. Avoid all contact with them until you devise a plan of attack using fire ant control products.
Fire ant control
Fire ant control products fall into three categories. Always read the product label instructions very carefully, as applications might differ for fire ant control.
- Granular baits — This method of fire ant control is the slowest acting but the most effective because food baits can wipe out an entire colony. Ants can’t swallow solid food so they must carry the granular bait back to their larvae in the mound. The larvae then convert the food bait to liquid that is spread between the ants and all through the colony.
- Mound treatments — Purchase a dry or liquid drench mound treatment product that you can apply directly to the fire ant mound. This type of fire ant control works well if you know where all the mounds are located. Unfortunately, for every mound you can see, there are smaller colonies forming that you can’t see.
- Broadcast insecticide — This is another granular product, but it should not be confused with food-attracting granular baits. Broadcast insecticide is formulated to work over a large area and contains long-lasting contact insecticides that kill moving ants when they touch the treated area. Priced higher than the other two methods, it can be applied by using a lawn fertilizer spreader.
Organic fire ant control
There are many green myths flying around about organic fire ant control. The problem is that most of them don’t work. Two that do work are simple, but do require caution on your part to avoid painful bites or, for the second method, burning yourself.
- Bucket and drown the colony — Bag your feet in plastic bags and secure with rubber bands around the top to prevent any ants from crawling up inside your legs. Take a shovel and dig as quickly as possible around the fire ant mound, taking up a foot or more of soil. Sprinkle a bucket(s) with baby powder or cornstarch to prevent the ants from crawling up the sides. Dump the mound into a bucket to no more than three-quarters full to allow for the addition of water. Add a generous amount of dish soap along with enough water to cover the contents. It might take up to a day for all the ants to drown.
- Boiling water over the mound — Another organic fire ant control method is to pour boiling water over the mound. Plan to apply at least 3 to 4 gallons at a time and repeat the process three to four times for best results. One caution with this method is that hot water will kill your grass and, if spilled, can burn the leaves of bushes.
- Panama City, FL
A very good product to for fire ants is ADVION granular bait by DuPont. Depending on your state, you can purchase this from a do-it-yourself pest control company. You may also buy it on line. This bait works very quickly with a 85% or better colony kill within a couple of days, including the queen. I've used this and haven't had to retreat a mound after one treatment. Just follow the directions and all will work well. I do slightly disturb the mound a little prior to putting the bait on the mound and around it.
- Loxahatchee, FL
We used to battle fire ants all the time. Now we have chickens that free range in our yard and we haven't seen a fire ant since. I know they eat them but I believe it has more to do with their scratching at the ground in search of insects. Now if they would only eat the fleas!