How to Get Rid of Fire Ants In Your Yard

How to Get Rid of Fire Ants

Fire ants are known to be an invasive species of ant. They can take over an area and cause a lot of pain to family members and pets should they disturb a colony of fire ants.

Trouble with fire ants is that they are so much trouble to get rid of. You can damage their mound and kill off many of the colony, but if you are not thorough enough then the colony will start to rebuild just a few feet away. You are then back at square one.

So How to Get Rid of Fire Ants In Your Yard?

First thing to know about fire ants is that their mounds are incredibly complex. In treating a mound to try and get rid of them you need to be so thorough in getting all areas of the mound. This might require more than one treatment session and/or method of treatment.

Do not believe us on the complex nature of the fire ant colony/mound, check out these videof of ‘Anthill Art’ metal casting a mound as an art piece. Note: we do not suggest you try this method of treatment at home.

Methods:

  • If you are looking for organic methods you can always use hot water, not quite boiling, but certainly hotter than tap water. You will also need a few gallons of this water to seep thoroughly through the mound. In order to be thorough you will also need to make sure you hit the mound when a majority of the ants are there. Morning time is your best bet to find a majority of ants in the mound. This will kill your grass and any shurbs disturbed by the water. So take that into account.
  • Another organic method would be to dig up the mound and then drown the colony in a large bucket of water. This is a rather labor intensive treatment and will probably lead to some bites if not properly clothed. However, for single mounds in your yard it can be effective solution. Dig up the mound and surrounding area, place mound and dirt in a large bucket of water that, when set, is only 2/3 way full. Leave for a few days so that the mound and all the fire ants are dead.

In most cases though the “Two-Step Method” is the preferred angle of attack in treating for fire ants and keeping them out of your yard.

The Two Step Method (according to Texas A&M Extension)

This approach works best in fully infested areas (five or more mounds for each quarter-acre of yard) or where there is little or no concern for preserving native ant species.

Two-stepping includes broadcasting a bait insecticide over your entire yard sometime between late August and mid-October, and then treating individual, problem mounds with an approved mound drench, granule, bait, or dust insecticide.

Step One:

Baits Fire ant baits consist of pesticides on processed corn grits coated with soybean oil. Worker ants take the bait back to the colony, where it is shared with the queen, which then either dies or becomes infertile. Baits currently available include Amdro, Siege, Logic, Award, Ascend, or Raid Fire Ant Killer. Baits are slow-acting and require weeks to months to achieve 80% to 90% control. Bait products can be used to easily treat large areas effectively. They contain extremely low amounts of toxins.

For best results:

  • Use fresh bait, preferably from an unopened container.
  • Apply when the ground and grass are dry and no rain is expected for the next 24 to 48 hours. Apply when worker ants are actively looking for food, usually in late afternoon or in the evening. To test, put a small pile of bait next to a mound and see if the ants have found it within 30 minutes.
  • Apply baits with hand-held seed spreaders. Don’t apply baits mixed with fertilizer or seed.
  • Baits can be applied anytime during the warm season. When applied in late summer/early fall, ants are still foraging and it’s easier to predict weather patterns. Then the bait can take effect over the winter while you’re indoors.
  • Re-apply baits once or twice a year.

Step Two:

Individual Mound Treatments

Chemical: With dust products, no water is needed and they act fast. However, they leave a surface residue. Liquid drenches generally eliminate mounds within a few hours and leave little surface residue after application. Granular products are relatively fast acting and usually require putting granules on and around the mound and then sprinkling 1 to 2 gallons of water on without disturbing the mound. Closely follow directions on the label.

Organic:Pouring 2 to 3 gallons of very hot or boiling water on the mound will kill ants about 60% of the time. Otherwise, the ants will probably just move to another location. Very hot or boiling water will kill the grass or surrounding vegetation that it is poured upon. Other natural or organic methods include mound drench products containing plant derived ingredients (e.g. botanical insecticides) and biological control agents.

You can learn more about the Two-Step Method and managing fire ants in Tennessee at the University of Tennessee Extension website.

This entry was posted in Pest Control Blog and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.