Ant Issues Vol. 3: Fire Ants During Dry Seasons

Patricia A. Beckley, Pollet, Dale K.  |  11/29/2006 7:49:46 PM

It's been dry and I don't see any imported fire ant mounds. Are they still around? Why should I treat them now?

Just because you don't see them doesn't mean they aren't there. They're just not making mounds because of the heat and drought. They will resume mound building as soon as the area receives significant rainfall. Fire ants are often more of an indoor problem at these times because they come in after food and water. Treating now can be very effective since the colonies are weakened anyway. Individual mound treatments, particularly with contact insecticides, are less effective during hot, dry conditions because the colony is not near the surface. However, because the ants must come out of the ground to find food and water, baits can work quite well. They should be applied in the late afternoon or evening when there are no thunderstorms predicted and there is no dew on the grass. The late application time will keep the bait from spoiling in the sun. Most of the bait will be picked up by ants foraging at night.

What are some options for controlling imported fire ants inside my house?

The most important step is identifying the ant species and determining where they are nesting. Treating outside will help control ants foraging inside from outdoor colonies. Find the nest first before applying a pesticide. If the ants are nesting outside, a perimeter treatment may act as a repellent and keep ants outdoors. For ants nesting in walls, a contact insecticide should be used, and it may require assistance from a professional pest control operator. Trails of foraging ants can be sprayed with a contact insecticide, but these treatments do not directly affect the colony. Make sure the product you select is labeled for use indoors. Read and follow the directions on the product label for best results. Be sure to keep products away from small children and pets.
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