Imported fire ants inflict painful stings and create unsightly mounds in our landscapes, and most of us would be happier if they weren’t around. A variety of products and methods are available to effectively control fire ants. There is no treatment, unfortunately, that will eradicate them from a yard permanently. The product chosen is often determined by the situation and the preferences of the individual doing the treatment. When using a pesticide, always read the label very carefully before you purchase it to make sure you understand and are comfortable with how to use it, and to make sure it is appropriate for the situation.
Fire ant baits consist of a pesticide combined with a material fire ants will consume as food. Use fresh bait, and apply it when the ground and grass are dry and no rain is expected for the next 24 hours. Apply baits when the worker ants are actively searching for food.
Some products, such as those containing acephate, are applied as a dry dust. Ants walking through the treated soil get the dust on their bod- ies and transport the insecticide into the mound. Within a few days the entire colony should be killed. To use a dust, distribute the recommended amount evenly over the undisturbed mound.
Other insecticides used to control fire ants are mixed with water and then applied to the mound as a drench. These liquid mound drenches kill ants underground, but must be applied in sufficient volume to penetrate the entire nest. Generally, about 1 gallon of diluted mixture is poured gently over the top of each mound.
Granular products offer another method of getting insecticide into fire ant mounds. To treat a single mound, measure the recommended amount, and sprinkle it on top of and around the mound following label directions.
A few active ingredients used in fire ant control products, such as boric acid, pyrethrin, pyrethrum, rotenone, citrus oil extract and diatomaceous earth, are organic pesticides. Diatomaceous earth, a natural silica-based dust, will kill some ants, but it rarely eliminates ant colonies when used alone. Avoid breathing in the dust-like particles.
Be advised that some home remedies don’t work
well. Spreading grits on a fire ant mound will only
feed the pests. Laying orange or grapefruit peel on a
fire ant mound will only make them move to another
spot. Shoveling one mound on top of another in an
attempt to force the ants to kill each other is not effective.
Do not use gasoline or other petroleum products
for fire ant control. While many of these products will
kill fire ants, they are extremely flammable and will kill
grass and other plants.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture