With vigilance and a careful application of proper insecticides you can keep your property largely free of fire ants. It is important to remember that these pests are always re-invading any area within their range.
IF YOU LIVE IN A NEIGHBORHOOD WITH A FIRE ANT PROBLEM, THE ONLY WAY TO RID THE PROBLEM IS TO GET THE NEIGHBORHOOD INVOLVED. HAVE A BLOCK PARTY/WAR AGAINST AN ANTAGONISTIC ANT ARMY THAT CAN BE ANNIHILATED!!!
Fire Ants Can be Controlled with persistence, patience and the right plan. These are tough pests, but a well planned, multi-facteted attack can give excellent control.
••••STEP ONE: Kill Problem Mounds Mound treatment is the fastest way to get rid of individual fire ant colonies that represent a threat. Treat problem fire ant mounds — those needing immediate attention.
However, this treatment won't necessarily address sub-colonies which can be widely disbursed or multi-queen colonies which are more difficult to kill. As a result, mounds can reappear before long. Since it is easier to kill a mound before it is fully developed and deep, treat any new mounds immediately with Fire Ant Killer. A single application of the proper poison will completely kill a new colony in minutes.
•••••STEP TWO: About a week after treating all of your mounds with a Diatect RESULTS mound treatment, you can improve your overall control if you properly broadcast a fire ant bait — a product containing a food plus an insecticide — over the whole yard. Use of the baits helps control those infestations that have not yet built visible mounds. They may also catch subsidiary colonies from multi-queen infestations that escape the Diatect RESULTS when they do come to the surface.
When collected by worker ants, bait particles are carried to the colony and shared with the queen and other ants. Less pesticide is needed with baits because this kind of delivery is so efficient. Baits work best when scattered lightly over the whole yard but it is important that they be applied only when the soil temperature is between 70 and 90 degrees. The reason for this is that ants forage within that temperature range. Bait goes bad fairly quickly on the surface and the ants won't pick it up if that happens. If they don't retrieve it and move it into the mound fairly quickly you have just wasted your money by applying it.
People commonly make two mistakes with baits. They apply them directly to the mound and they spread too much bait around. Fire ants are sensitive and recognize abnormalities as a threat. They are foragers and the sudden appearance of new materials on the mound itself may not be accepted as a good thing.
Too much bait can also be viewed with alarm. That makes them sound ultra smart, but it is just a manifestation of their heightened alarm mechanisms which is also what causes them to swarm to attack. They also forage from a wide network of tunnels so a dispersed bait is most likely to be picked up.
Hand-held seed spreaders are ideal for applying fire ant baits. The EarthWay® Ev-N-Spred and Scotts® HandyGreen® spreaders are typical units. Set the spreader on the smallest opening and make one pass over the area to be treated. This should apply the recommended rate (1 to 1 1/2 pounds per acre for most products).
Push-type fertilizer spreaders put out most baits too quickly. It is important not to apply too much as the ants may recognize it as abnormal and ignore the bait and may just move the colony.
USE THE RIGHT BAIT AT THE RIGHT TIME
Baits work slowly which is why mounds should be treated directly with a Pyrethrins based poison like Diatect RESULTS in order to get a fast knockdown.
Of the baits, products containing hydramethylnon or spinosad work the fastest, controlling ants within 3 to 6 weeks. Insect growth regulator baits (like fenoxycarb, pyriproxifen and methoprene) usually require 2 to 6 months. The advantage of growth regulators is that they need to be reapplied less often when treating areas larger than an acre.
We recommend a mixture of the two types of bait products for the best long term area control. Mix 1/2 lb. hydramethylnon in baited granules (under trade names "Amdro" or "Siege") mixed with 1/2 lb s-methoprene in baited granules (under trade name "Extinguish"). Amdro/Siege, a metabolic inhibitor, takes 3-6 weeks after ants consume it to show an effect and the effect lasts for several months until a re-invasion occurs. Extinguish is a growth regulator that takes longer to show an impact, but then can last a year or more. Since these things are not instantly toxic, workers can distribute each of them throughout the colony long before effects set in.
While these compounds or breakdown products definitely would not be good for frogs or fish, if application occurs during a period when no run-off rains are anticipated, all of the active material will be taken into fire ant mounds within a few hours if the ants are foraging. Persistence in the environment is relatively short for both types of bait.
APPLY BAITS AT THE CORRECT TIME.
Baits are effective only when fire ants are actively searching for food. Ants remove baits from the soil surface within a few hours if baits are applied during peak foraging times. Fire ants forage when the soil surface temperature is between 70 and 90 degrees. Fall applications work well to reduce fire ant numbers the following spring. During winter, fire ants forage little and rarely pick up baits.
GETTING THE MOST FROM FIRE ANT BAITS
• Apply baits only when ants are foraging. To see if ants are active, place a small amount of bait or suitable food (hot dog or potato chip) next to a mound. If ants begin removing the food within 30 minutes, it’s a good time to treat.
• In summer, apply baits in the evening. Ants forage during the cool of evening when soil temperatures are between 70 and 90 and will quickly discover and carry off baits. Baits applied during the day, in extreme heat, quickly lose their effectiveness. Ants do not forage during the day in hot weather.
• Use only fresh bait, preferably from an unopened container. Once opened, baits should be used quickly. Opened containers may last only a few weeks. Unopened containers stay fresh for up to 2 years.
• Test baits for freshness before using. Sprinkle a small amount next to an active mound. If the bait is fresh, ants will begin removing it within 30 minutes.
• Apply baits when no rain is expected for at least 8 hours. This reduces the risk of their being washed away.
•Pick a mild day on which you first determine that the ants will swarm a piece of hot dog or small amount of bait. That means they will efficiently harvest the bait. Broadcast these granules all over the infested area on a nice day so that the fire ants get all of the bait. The worker ants will take the granules into the mound.
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