Controlling Fire Ants | Getting Rid of Fire Ants
Fire ants are indigenous to the U.S. However, the accidental introduction of Solenopsis invicta (red imported fire ant) into Mobile, Alabama on a cargo ship during the 1930s, the introduction of Black imported fire ants, and now a hybrid species of fire ants has changed the playing field in terms of control. The imported species and hybrid ants are still a research work-in-progress.
In all, fire ants infest hundreds of millions of acres, and the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) projected infestation map predicts that red imported fire ants will eventually be coast-to-coast right across the south. The USDA introduced a quarantine program for imported fire ants in the 1950s.
Fire ants can travel long distances when mated queens land on cars, trains, trucks, or are even carried on the wind. The aggressive ants, whose collective stings can be fatal, are causing major disruption to farming activities from workers in the fields to vulnerable livestock with infestations making some pastures effectively unusable.
In terms of the imported fire ants, scientists have great hopes for the phorid fly, which lays eggs inside the ant's body; the eggs later develop in the ant';s head, decapitating it. Of all the fire ant species, the red imported one is the most aggressive, widespread, and difficult to control. The ants live in large mounds and attack in swarms. However, some commercial products are effective against indigenous U.S. fire ants and should have at least some effect on the imported/hybrid varieties.
Fire ant baits are designed for the fire ant workers to take the formula back to the queen. The manufacturers say that their formulas can provide season long control and destroy visible and unseen ant mounds. Amdro says that its Fire Strike Fire Ant Bait kills the queen, destroys the mound, and sterilizes new queens thus preventing new mounds from forming. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions before using any product, but generally speaking fire ant baits are best applied, as recommended, during the fall or spring when no rain is expected for at least eight hours. Commercial baits may have some affect against the imported and hybrid varieties although complete eradication may not be possible. Furthermore, some brands of baits may not be available for sale in certain states, ask your Southern States dealer what is appropriate for your situation.
Perimeter pesticides, such as sprays which one manufacturer, Bonide, says that its Pyrethrin spray can not only keep fire ants out of your home but crickets, cutworms, earwigs, chinch bugs, leafhoppers, roaches, and spiders too; always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
In the garden
Again, sprays, Bonide says that 1tsp/gal of its Pyrethrin spray applied before harvest is an effective insect control, including fire ants; always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
There are always home remedies that have been tried, with varying degrees of success/failure although some of these would have to be applied with extreme caution as to whether you can legally do it and what the consequences of something going wrong would be. Home fire ant remedies include:
- Club soda
- Dish detergent
- Setting fire to the mound
Have you tried one of these methods or perhaps you have an entirely different simple and safe answer to fire ant control? Share your story in the comments section below.