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How to get rid of fire ants

The Bug Doctor: Adam Villareal, owner and president of Insight Pest Solutions, entomology nerd, and family man. To help demystify the world of bugs, the Bug Doctor answers your questions during our weekly “Ask the Bug Dr.” blog feature. You can submit your bug and pest control inquiries for him on our Facebook page, by tweeting @insightpest, or commenting below.

How can I get rid of fire ants in my yard?

Photo credit: Marufish

Who hasn’t unwillingly stepped on or near a fire ant mound, eliciting painful bites from the insects?

Fire ants will build their mounds in almost any location. They don’t have a central opening and when a mound is disturbed, fire ants will scurry out rapidly to bite and sting.

What should you do if you see fire ant mounds outside of your home? Perhaps you want to avoid getting bitten while walking outside for your morning paper or you want to make sure your children can play outside without the fear of fire ants.

There are three main ways of getting rid of fire ants.

1. Granular baits:

These baits contain food that is attractive to fire ants as well as slow-acting insecticides or insect growth regulators. They are easy to apply, inexpensive and typically effective. But baits do take some time: they may take two to eight weeks to fully work. Baits are an excellent way to prevent large fire ant mounds in your yard. They would eliminate small colonies before they grow into larger ones. You may want to treat your yard one to three times a year.

2. Mound treatments:

These treatments contain fast-acting insecticides that you apply directly to fire ant mounds to kill the fire ants quickly. These can be either dry powders or liquid drenches. Dry mound treatments take a few days to work while liquid drenches should kill ants within a few hours. However, they do require more time to mix and apply.

3. Broadcast insecticide treatments:

These are typically granular products but they do not contain any food. Instead, they contain long-lasting contact insecticides. Ants which come into contact with treated soil are killed. These products can be more expensive than the other two control methods and are usually used in the most sensitive areas around a home. Baits may be used for the rest of the lawn.

Be sure to check out our friends at Tips Bulletin here for more tips!

Sources:

Fire Ant Control: The Two-Step Method and Other Approaches,” eXtension.

Fire ants in Mississippi,” Department of Entomology, Mississippi State University

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