Gain Control of Fire Ants in the Home Landscape

Kali Zammit, Schmit, Rene G.  |  1/22/2013 10:02:26 PM

Heavy rains over the past few weeks have forced fire ants to the surface and numerous fire ant mounds to suddenly appear in lawns, around trees and in landscape beds. As it is virtually impossible to eradicate fire ants from the home landscape, home owners can achieve an effective control, however, at least to a point where the incidence and frequency of fire ants are reduced significantly. The key is to attack fire ants with a systematic approach that would involve treating individual mounds, applying bait, and applying a general use insecticide.

When ant mounds appear on the soil surface, they should be treated with a contact insecticide. Three common types of insecticides used for fire ant mound treatments are carbaryl, acephate or spinosad. Carbaryl is the active ingredient in Seven and is available as liquid seven (concentrate or pre-mixed), seven dust or as liquid carbaryl. Acephate is the active ingredient in Orthene, which is a liquid concentrate version. Acephate is also available as a wetable powder which is mixed with water prior to application. Spinosad is the active ingredient in Greenlight Spinosad Lawn & Garden Spray and available also as Spinosad liquid concentrate. As there are many other product materials that contain various and different types of active ingredients, all are effective when applied correctly.

A few days after conducting mound treatments, the next step would be to apply fire ant bait such as Amdro, Logic, Award, Extinguish, or Spectracide Fire Ant Bait. Baits work differently than insecticides used for mound treatments. Ants forage the bait and take it in as food. The bait is fed to the queen which results in the queen dying. Most bait is applied by broadcasting the product throughout the lawn area or applying the product 2 to 3 feet away from the fire ant mound area.

The final step would involve broadcasting a granular, general use insecticide throughout the lawn area for long-term control. Product materials such as Over and Out Fire Ant Killer, Bug Blaster, Once and Done, or Talstar work well in providing a residual, long term control.

Keep in mind that the level of effectiveness will depend largely on the material being applied correctly. Whether using a liquid, granules, powder or bait, follow label directions for ensuring an overall, long term effective fire ant control.

Rene’ Schmit is St. Charles Parish County Agent of the LSU AgCenter and can be reached at 985-785-4473.
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