Fire Ants are prevalent throughout the south. Black Imported Fireants and Red Imported Fireants are fierce, territorial and persistent. Their mounds vary in size and may be found anywhere. Their peak activity is spring to December. They are less active in January, February and March but will emerge on warm days foraging about looking for food and someone to sting. Some structures have Fire Ants under slabs where heat is available all year. These nests will be active continuously. Throughout the spring into winter, active mounds will send out “swarmer” ants. Like termites, these are winged males and females who start new colonies. We get many calls from people who are wanting to know if they have ants or termites swarming in their house. Generally, fire ant swarmers will retain or keep their wings even after they’re dead. Termite swarmers will drop wings and walk around in pairs, looking for a place to start a new colony. Fire ants won’t pair off or loose their wings. Additionally, their antennae will be elbowed where termite antennae will be long and straight.
FIRE ANT STINGS
When colonies are established around buildings, picnic areas, sitting areas, and playgrounds, your children may encounter these nasty little demons. These encounters may lead to pets and children getting stung. As homeowners and parents, you should strive to control your environment so your young ones won’t have to worry about being stung. Fire Ants may be little, but they pack a nasty sting which will itch and become irritated immediately. If you have stings you want to treat, use our STING RELIEF SWABS. This product is very effective at both stopping the itch and allowing the wound to heal. If you have ever been stung by Fireants you know the wound will irritate you for weeks. These ointments will soothe the discomfort and allow for faster healing. Though they work great at relieving the pain and suffering of Fireant stings, most people still prefer to not get stung at all. If you wish to keep Fireant activity to a minimum, there are several things you can do around the home to both minimize activity and/or eliminate any nests you have.
FIRE ANT CONTROL
The first step in Fireant control is to determine common ground. This common ground is anywhere you may go on and around your property where fire ants may be or are already active. It may include picnic areas, ball fields, pool areas, tennis courts, nature trails or parking lots. If your yard is on many acres, try to identify the critical places where encounters with fire ants will occur. Once this common ground is identified, you have two types of fireant control that can be incorporated to both keep them out and kill off any nests currently active. The two control methods are referred to as Baiting and Drenching.
FIRE ANT DRENCHING
1) BAITING should be done when you are in a region which is prone to getting Fire Ant nests. Baiting works best as a preventive treatment and if done 3-4 times a year, no new nests will be able to form. If you already have nests, you will have DRENCH them for quick and complete control of existing mounds.
2) DRENCHING should be done when you currently have active nests which need to be eliminated immediately. This is generally what you should do when people or pets are either threatened or have gotten stung by existing ants in the common ground. Since drenching mounds works so quickly, it’s advised when live fire ants are active.
FIRE ANT BAITING
The concept of baiting fire ant mounds is to insure the queen or queens are killed. Only then will the nest be destroyed and you’ll get good fire ant control. Most baits are slow acting. When used to treat an existing mound, the scout and worker ants will bring the bait back to feed other members in the nest. This includes nurse ants, larva and the queen. In general, queen ants will not feed on new foodstuff until it is deemed safe. To qualify, the food is first eaten by certain members of the colony. If they don’t die, the reproductives (queens) will consume some. The problem with the concept of baiting is that most fire ant colonies are able to replace reproductives should they die. Very rarely does any one bait infiltrate the entire colony so that it dies off completely. Though it may appear to have died, most times it has only gone dormant for awhile as it rebounds from the baits effects.
This can be seen when mounds “come back to life” a few weeks after it appeared they were dead. Another common sign of ant bait failure is when mounds start appearing within 10 feet of the first mound that was treated. Mound relocation is very common with Fire Ants since they will quickly relocate when they feel threatened. Ant baiting has a tendency to alarm the colony when members start dying. This reaction generally causes them to relocate.
If you have current mounds you want to kill immediately, forget baiting. Use the Drenching procedure described below for any current mounds you want to eliminate. However, baiting does have it’s place. Use bait when you want to pretreat the common ground so that you don’t get fire ants. By applying the bait over the turf and flower beds, you will be able to kill off fire ant mounds as they start. The first generation of the nest will be very aggressive and during this time ant bait works well.
THE BEST FIRE ANT BAIT
We have found one brand of MAXFORCE GRANULES that work very well. They use a strong protein base which fire ants love and will readily gather. Once brought back to the nest the bait will infiltrate and kill it within a week. KEEP IN MIND THIS BAIT WORKS BEST FOR NEW NESTS WHICH ARE VERY SMALL AND BARELY NOTICEABLE. IF YOU ARE ABLE TO SEE THE MOUND, YOU WILL BE BEST BY USING THE DRENCHING TECHNIQUE DESCRIBED BELOW. Most new nests are never noticed when this product is used. Apply it every three months to insure you have the common ground properly treated and protected. Once in place, fire ant swarmers which find their way onto your property will feed on some and die off. Nests won’t form and generally you can live without the hassle or inconvenience of being stung or having to do extensive drenching applications.
FIRE ANT LAWN GRANULES
Another preventive application we know works well is to use some COMPLETE LAWN GRANULES as a pretreatment. Use one of our GRANULE SPREADER to apply the material. Though similar looking to standard Diazinon or Dursban type granules, these work a lot better and last a lot longer. If you are going to use this type of product in the yard, don’t waste your time with the old type active, get this newer and stronger chemcial which works great. This compound is new and seems to be very active against Fire Ants. It both repels them and kills them – something traditional granules don’t do.
This is what makes Cyfluthrin a good granule that can be dispersed in and around the yard for preventive treatments. The author prefers the Cyfluthrin Granules over the bait because they work on just about any insect found in the yard. Treatments done quarterly with this product will prevent any mounds from forming. This is certainly the strongest treatment available so if you have small children and/or pets and are worried about such product use, stick with the bait.
FIRE ANT CONTROL DRENCHING METHOD
If you have active mounds which are both visible and easy to access, the preferred treatment process is called “staking and drenching”. The author prefers this method for most situations because it is both quick and direct. It will kill ant fire ant colonies immediately and avoids the problem of nest relocation thus getting fire ant control much faster. It can be effective when nests are up under cement as well. This video shows how to treat such a nest.
Mound drenching is instant, effective and easy. When drenching was first tried, products like dursban and diazinon were used and nest relocation was a problem. In the late 1980’s, CYPERMETHRIN became available. This active ingredient is deadly on ants. Cypermethrin works instantly. Ants do not stand a chance. If you want a contact kill, you must “stake and drench” using Cypermethrin.
HOW TO DRENCH FIRE ANT MOUNDS
First, mix your chemical in a bucket or one of our GOOD SPRAYER. When using the sprayer, remove the whole nozzle at the end of the spray wand so that the chemical will flow out much like a faucet. This allows you to soak the mound quickly which prevents the ants from scurrying away. The average nest requires 1/2 to 1 gallon of finished product applied in order to get a complete kill. Second, use a pick ax or piece of rebar to stake the mound. If you have a lot of mounds to treat, get one of our STAKING TOOL. This 4 Foot Rod with a T-Handle gives you a lot of leverage for getting holes poked quickly and deeply.
FIRE ANT NEST HOLES
Another option is to use an EARTH AUGER to create the holes. It connects to any standard drill and will make perfect drenching holes. Be sure to have all your chemical mixed and ready to apply because once you start staking, the ants will start moving! Third, immediately pour the chemical into the holes. Pour deliberately allowing the chemical to penetrate the mound insuring the fire ant queens will be killed. Apply slowly and evenly to prevent runoff and remember not to panic; expect to see a lot of ants running around but within a few minutes the whole mound will be completely dead.
FIRE ANT CONTROL AEROSOL
If you only have a few mounds to treat or if you want something available which is easy to use, get the FIRE ANT KILLING AEROSOL. This product is highly active on fireants and will kill them on contact when applied to the mound. Use a FIRE ANT AEROSOL WAND which attaches to the Fire Ant Killer can and be sure to have adequate holes for doing the treatment. Again, the Staking Tool is perfect for this job.
For most mounds, you will need to stake 5-10 holes. Next, simply take the Aerosol with the wand attached and slide the wand down the holes spraying as you go. Try to get 1-3 seconds of spray per hole so for the average nest, you will need to release 10-15 seconds of aerosol. This will kill them on contact and provide residual which means that as eggs hatch, they too will die. The Aerosol is OK for use when you have limited number of mounds to treat but will prove much more costly compared to using the Cypermethrin. For this reason it is advised that you use the Cypermethrin when you have large areas needing treatment otherwise be prepared for the extra cost of the Aerosol.
FIRE ANT CONTROL BAIT STATIONS
Though most fire ants will die during the treatment, there is a chance stray ants may relocate or be a nuisance in the home. If you are experiencing some “rogue” ants finding their way into the house, place ADVANCE ANT BAIT STATIONS where these ants are active. Advance uses two attractants (one that is mostly sugar based and one mostly protein based) so they are sure to attract foraging ants. Since they won’t have access to food (now that their nest is dead) they will readily eat the bait and die quickly without any chance of starting a new nest.
And too insure no rogue ants find their way inside in the first place, mix up 1 ounce of the Cypermethrin in one of the sprayers we list and apply the whole gallon prior to treating the mounds. This preventive application will assure none can relocate into the home. Such applications will work well if done throughout the year to stop all pests from entering as well and is a good maintenance program for keeping the home pest free.
FIRE ANT CONTROL SPRAY FOR HOUSE
Now if you end up getting nests in the home, you really need to act more aggressively to insure they don’t hurt anyone. As we all know, fire ants can sting and be dangerous to both young children and pets. And though Cypermethrin works great when it can be administered directly to their mound, this usually is not a treatment option once they’re inside the house. So if you have a nest inside, don’t use Cypermethrin or any of the other products listed above. Instead, go with PHANTOM CONCENTRATE. Phantom features a new active which is unique and works very differently from most products commonly used on ants.
First, it’s pretty much odorless.
Second, it’s slow acting. So slow it won’t kill them if you spray them directly. It will actually take several days to kill them and this is by design. Once ants pick up a little bit of the active, they’ll bring it back to the nest and get it all over other members of the colony. At some point the active “kicks in” and when it does, the entire nest is usually affected before they know what happened.
FIRE ANT CONTROL PHANTOM AEROSOL IS ODORLESS AND GOES ON DRY
Try to spray the Phantom anywhere inside you’ve seen activity and use the PHANTOM AEROSOL to treat all the cracks and crevices you can’t get good with the liquid such as a wall void or some place where liquid might be too messy. The aerosol version is odorless and when applied properly goes on “dry” so it won’t make a mess. Both will do the job; just be sure to treat as much of the home as you can in case there is more than one nest.
Fire ants can be a problem where young children and pets want to play. To minimize risk of Fire Ant stings, apply either the Fire Ant Granule Bait or the Cyfluthrin Granules once a quarter. Either will prevent nests from forming and keep common ground free and clear of this aggressive ant. If you need to treat fire ant stings, use some of our Bite Ointment for both quick relief of the irritation and help in promoting faster healing. Current mounds which you know are active need to be Staked and Drenched with our Cypermethrin for immediate fire ant control.