Figuring out how to get rid of red fire ants – or any other types of fire ants – can seem daunting when you first discover ant mounds in your yard. While there are a few species of fire ants native to the United States, troublemaking ants are typically either red imported fire ants (RIFA), black imported fire ants (BIFA) or a hybrid of these two species. It is important to note that how to get rid of fire ants in the yard is not the same as how to get rid of fire ants in the house. There are methods that can be used outdoors that would not be safe indoors.
RIFA and BIFA are more active in the late spring to early fall months. Experts suggest that the best times of year for fire ant treatments are during those seasons. However, individual mounds can be treated throughout the year if they become problematic. The list of what kills fire ants is a long one, but outside of calling a professional, there is no "best way to kill fire ants."
When it comes to fire ant control, there are a couple of popular choices, including baits, mound drench products and dust insecticides.
Baits are slow-acting when compared to other treatment methods, and can take months to reach the desired result. However, they do typically achieve 80 to 90 percent fire ant control. Most baits are corn grits treated with pesticide. Foraging ants take the tainted food back to their colony, where it is eaten by the queen and other ants. Some result in the queen becoming infertile, while others kill her and the colony. Using baits for fire ant removal is a low-toxicity option, as the baits are spread over a wide area.
Mound drenches involve pouring a liquid pesticide directly onto the fire ant hill. The liquid penetrates the belowground levels of the mound, killing the ants inside after a few hours. Once applied, these products leave only traces of residue on the surface.
Dust or granule control methods vary slightly in how they get rid of fire ants. Dusts, which leave a surface residue, are merely sprinkled over a mound and left to work their magic. Granules, on the other hand, require water to activate. Once granules have been applied on and around the mound, several gallons of water typically need to be slowly poured over them to activate.
Most experts advocate using what they call the Two-Step method for fire ant infestations that cover larger areas. This involves first applying fire ant bait to the entire affected area, and following it up with a treatment of the individual mounds. Bait should be reapplied several times a year, and individual mounds can be treated as they appear.
It is important to note that many of the products available to homeowners are different and may not be as effective as those available to licensed pest management professionals. Additionally, while you may be able to treat for fire ants in your yard, treating fire ants indoors is often difficult and requires the use of different products entirely. The improper use of pesticides can be dangerous. You should keep children and pets away from these products at all times.
If you have been asking yourself, "How do I get rid of fire ants," it's time to call a pest management professional to discuss your options for fire ant removal.