The Sting…The Burn…Those Pesky Fire Ants!!

fire ants

If you live in the South, you are sure to have had a run-in with annoying fire ants.  If you’ve ever stepped on an ant hill, you know it only takes one sting to remind you to watch where you’re walking and always wear shoes!.

Here in the Midlands, our sandy soil makes prime real estate for ants. Their mounds can reach up to 50 to 200 mounds per acre if not adequately controlled.  During warmer months, the ants will swarm to reproduce and create new colonies continuously.

Have you ever wondered why you can’t get a handle on controlling fire ants and why they always come back?

Here’s the answer:

  1. Winged male and female fire ants fly high into the air and mate. Wind currents can carry the airborne ants several miles.
  2. Even if you kill every mound in your yard, newly mated queens are steadily dropping out of the sky to start new colonies.
  3. Even if you don’t see any mounds, new ones are continually being built and will soon be large enough to be seen above ground.

Is it a lost cause?  Should we just learn how to cohabitate with the ants? – No

There is a method for getting rid of fire ants once and for all! The most efficient way to control fire ants are to hit them with a one-two punch method.

  1. Come Get ItUse granular fire ant baits (Fertilome Come & Get It) as the foundation of your fire ant control program.When used correctly, baits will give around 80 to 90 percent control, leaving a lot fewer mounds to spot treat than if you rely on mound treatments alone.  Granular fire ant baits contain slow-acting insecticides or insect growth regulators that disrupt development of the immature fire ants. The key to using baits successfully is to spread them over the entire yard, rather than sprinkling them on top of individual mounds.  Application rates are low, only around 1-1.5 pounds per acre, which is only a fraction of an ounce per 1,000 square feet. Worker ants will collect the granules, carry them back to the mound, and feed them to the immature ants. Baits should be applied three times per year: spring, summer, and fall.

    Rain will wash the bait away. Make sure to check the forecast and spread the bait when it will be sure to have a few days exposure. Also, fire ants generally feed late afternoon or evening which makes a perfect time to spread bait.

  2. Fire Ant KillerKeep a can of one of the dry fire ant mound treatment products (Bayer Fire Ant Killer) on hand to spot-treat mounds that survive the bait treatments.Dry mound treatments are applied directly to the mound; just sprinkle the specified amount evenly over the top of the mound and walk away. It will take a couple of days to a week for the mound to die out. For mounds that need to be controlled immediately use a liquid drench. Dilute in water as indicated on the label and pour the drench over the mound. Liquid drenches kill quickly but are more messy and time-consuming than dry mound treatments. The key to success with drenches is to use enough liquid to thoroughly soak the mound, about 1-2 gallons.

If you stay diligent about controlling ants with a One-Two Punch method, you can start to enjoy your lawn again!

Here at Wingard’s Market we specialize in providing outstanding customer service, offer professional gardening advice, and answers to your every day gardening questions.  Stop by and visit our beautiful Gift Shoppe, Fresh Produce Market, and take a stroll under century-old pecan trees through our Garden Wonderland!

Located at 1403 North Lake Drive in Lexington, SC. Call us at (803) 359-9091