Getting Rid of Fire Ants

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Getting Rid of Fire Ants

Staff Writer · Dec 14, 2010

A sting with the poison piperidine is what you may encounter when getting rid of fire ants. They are sometimes called tropical fire or ginger ants and make up almost three hundred species found on almost every continent. They burrow into the ground, mostly near water such as rivers, ponds and well kept, hydrated lawns producing small mounds that are often hidden under rocks, logs and bricks. They feed on plants, seeds and crickets, and sometimes can bring down a small animal. Getting rid of fire ants completely is a difficult task but controlling and hopefully reducing their population is possible.

Site the Mounds

Finding the fire ant mounds is your first line of defense. Carefully overturn rocks, bricks, logs and even old yard junk. Check near a water source such as the in ground sprinkler line, a nearby stream or river as well as a pond, underground stream or easily saturated area. Once you find the mounds, be sure not to disturb them. Place whatever was over it back and notate each location.

Broadcast Baiting

Broadcast baiting entails spreading fire ant poison granules over and around the sited mounds. A company called MaxForce makes a fire ant bait that contains hydrmethylnon, the poison of choice for the job.

Other poisons to look for that also work well are:

indoxacarb

fipronil

abamectin

Use a fertilizer spreader for distribution, be sure to wear gloves and if you get close to the poison, wear a face mask. The best time to lay this poison down is twice a year, in the fall and the spring. Usually a fall spreading will reduce colonies that would otherwise expand come spring. Make sure it will not rain within twenty-four hours of distribution as this will wash away the granules and render them useless. Late afternoon or early evening is the optimal time to broadcast bait.

Drenching

About one month after broadcast baiting, you should drench each mound. This can be done with boiling water poured into the mound until it overflows. There are also drenching solutions or dusts from companies such as Precise or Orthene that usually contain the chemical acephate.

Bucketing

If you want to avoid chemicals altogether you can try bucketing.

  1. Get two large buckets, each with a handle
  2. Spread baby powder or cornstarch on the inside, making sure to cover the walls of the bucket. This will prevent fire ants from crawling out and stinging you.
  3. Using a strong shovel, dig around the mound about one foot in diameter and one or two feet deep.
  4. Quickly transfer the mound to the bucket, being sure not to fill it to the top as the ants will simply escape. Use the other bucket for any residual soil.
  5. Transport the mound to another off site location or fill it with hot water and dish washing liquid, which will kill the ants.

Be sure and wear boots, long socks, pants and long sleeves during this procedure. Also make sure you perform bucketing in the morning when the fire ants are usually in the mound.

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