fire_ant_worker1 (Photo credit: bart_drees)
The following article is intended for pest control professionals and homeowners alike, who are in need of some answers when it comes to dealing with fire ants. If you are a homeowner who is battling fire ants on your property, please seek the assistance of an ant control professional before attempting to exterminate these dangerous ants.
The Red Imported Fire ant is one of the worst ant pests in the Southern United States in terms of human health, property damage, and environmental damage. If you are a pest control professional in states like: Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, and North Carolina; you likely take frequent calls from homeowners that are battling these nasty pests.
Pest Control For Fire Ants
Unfortunately, treating fire ants isn’t as easy as heading to your local hardware store and picking up an aerosol pesticide to spray on a mound. Over-the-counter sprays will only kill a few of the ants. The remaining ants will leave the nest and return when the pesticide dissipates.
Some pest control operators will only sprinkle an insecticide over a mound. This is ineffective in controlling the whole colony because most fire ant mounds have multiple queens; and colonies may be spread over unseen areas and across multiple properties.
Texas A&M University has developed a couple of effective fire ant control strategies, developed through years of research. They include a one step wide area treatment or two step bait and mound treatment. The two step method works best in fully infested areas (five or more mounds per quarter-acre of yard).
(Solenopsis invicta) This photo shows a colony of reddish brown fire ants. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One Step Wide Area Treatment
If a homeowner is only dealing with a few fire ants, this wide area treatment is effective. It may require cooperation from other homeowners, as the infesting ants may be coming from multiple properties.
Using this method, a pest control professional distributes a granular product containing Fipronil over a property once a year, preferably in the early spring. Spread two pounds of Fipronil per 1000 square feet. Fipronil granular products, like TopChoice and Taurus G, are slow-acting but have season-long control. Best results will not be seen for six weeks after application. Treat a property evenly, and lightly water after the granules have been applied.
If the Fipronil granules are distributed after April, an additional application of fast acting fire ant baits may be necessary to reduce the fire ant population. The fire ants will be very active long before the Fipronil ever kicks in.
It’s important to note that this fire ant extermination method is ineffective a controlling other species of foraging ants, as it’s not a barrier treatment.
Fire Ants (Photo credit: Marufish)
Two Step Bait & Mound Treatment
The two step bait and mound treatment approach has been proven effective at controlling fire ants, and is ideal for highly infested areas. During the first step of treatment, a pest control professional will distribute a fire ant bait insecticide over a property in the early spring or late fall. A few weeks after the baits have been applied to a property; the pest professional will treat each mound with an approved mound drench, granule, or dust pesticide.
One of the more environmentally sound ways to treat fire ants, is with baits. These baits are a combination of insecticide and corn. A fire ant worker will find the bait, bring it back to the nest, and share it with his friends and the queen. After ingesting the poisoned food, the ants will die.
Look for fire ant bait with one or more of the following active ingredients: indoxacarb, abamectin, s-methoprene, hydromethylnon, or pyriproxyfen. Put these baits down evenly throughout the property, when the ground is dry, and when you’re not expecting rain for the next 48 hours. Late afternoons and evening work best for baiting, as that’s when fire ants are actively foraging. Make sure the bait is fresh, and do not mix it with other substances like fertilizer.
Texas Fire Ant Nest in October (Photo credit: gurdonark)
A week or two after the application of fire ant bait, a pest control professional must chemically treat each individual ant mound with dusts, drenches, or granules.
Liquid drenches generally eliminate ants in mounds within a few hours and leave little surface residue after application. Use a long injection probe to apply Temprid SC, Tempo or Suspend under high pressure into mounds.
Granular products are rather fast acting. They require putting granules on and around the mound and then sprinkling one to two gallons of water on without alarming the fire ants inside the mound. Maxforce Complete Granular Insect Bait provides fast knockdown and long-term control.
As previously mentioned; if you are a property owner who is battling fire ants, please seek the assistance of an ant control professional before attempting to exterminate these dangerous ants.
Read more about fire ant control methods at: http://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/