Thursday, February 19, 2009

Do you have fire ants?

Well...boogers! I was halfway done with my post and Mozilla crashed and my entry disappeared. Oh well, I guess I'll have to start my witty banter again.

It rained. In Austin, it rained. It even rained at my house in Manor which NEVER happens even when it rains in Austin, Round Rock, Pflugerville, etc. etc. I think that Manor has some weird Bermuda Triangle thing with weather so it never rains all just goes around us.

Anyway, along with my plants gurgling with relief from being watered (I've been promoting natural selection in my yard....whatever survives without a lot of watering gets to, well, survive) I've noticed some fire ant activity. The mountain laurel is blooming, the fire ants are becoming active...all we need is for bluebonnets to crop up and it will officially be spring in Central Texas.

So what are your option for managing fire ants?
1. Broadcast bait over your yard.
Fire ant baits are a defatted corn cob grit coated in soybean oil that has the active ingredient- what kills the fire ants- dissolved in it. Most baits are put out at a very small rate (1-1.5 pounds per acre) and should be broadcast using a hand held spreader. Of course, people often feel like they haven't put out enough bait when they apply it properly, so they wind up putting out more bait until it looks like it snowed. Please be sure to read the product label to apply bait at the proper rate and with the proper equipment.

2. Broadcast a contact insecticide over your entire yard.
These products typically come in a granular form that needs to be watered into the soil once it's been applied. Many people get these products confused with baits, so again, read the product label for proper application instructions. With these products, the chemical is watered into the soil and the fire ants come into contact with the active ingredient when they excavate the soil to make tunnels and the mound.

3. Treat mound individually with the method of your choosing.
There are numerous products labelled for treating fire ant mounds. There are also numerous "home remedies" for treating fire ants. While some of these might actually work (like boiling water), many do not. Some home remedies may cause the fire ants to abandon the mound, but usually a new mound pops up 1-2 feet away. So, if you choose to treat individual mounds, choose your method wisely. Also, understand that treating fire ant mounds individually can be more time consuming, more costly and place more chemicals into the environment than broadcast baiting.

4. Two step- broadcast bait and follow up with individual mound treatments for mounds in sensitive areas.
Since many fire ant baits take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to see results, you may want to utilize the strategy of broadcasting a bait followed by individual mound treatments. Instead of treating all fire ant mounds, you can target mounds that are in sensitive areas (near animal kennels or where children play) or that need to be taken care of quickly.

For more information on these treatment methods you can read the publication Fire Ant Control The Two-Step Method and Other Approaches.

1 comment:

LindaCTG said...


Thank you for this very helpful info. And your little bug gets cuter by the second. Linda