Ants can be bothersome around your house. But Fire Ants are more than just a bother because of the threat they represent to you, your animals, as well as anybody else that might come on your property.
Fire Ants have a very hostile nature, and their toxins can produce serious reactions. But with the proper treatment methods, you can take back your yard, and virtually eliminate fire ants on your residential or commercial property.
My Battle With Fire Ants
I own a small farm/ranch in East Texas. Several years ago (and I’m not kidding) I renamed this place “Fire Ant Farms”. Why? Because it’s the Number One crop that I raise. Hands down. I have battled them for years. And, I’ve tried several fire ant remedies. Most had disappointing results. Only recently have I gotten a handle on their control. Let me tell you what I’ve done, and what has worked for me.
Are There Any Natural Predators?
Not many. And I would suspect that the following natural predators to fire ants really don’t put much of a dent in their population. Some natural predators include arachnids, birds and also many insects, such as other ants, dragonflies, earwigs, as well as beetles.
The ant can be a host to bloodsuckers and also to a variety of microorganisms, nematodes, and viruses which have been viewed as prospective organic control agents. But so far, I don’t think science is even close to a scenario in which Nature can control them.
How To Identify Fire Ants
If you ever get stung by one, you’ll know. They really hurt, and some folks are so allergic to them that deaths have occurred. But, allowing yourself to get stung is not the best way to identify them. The first thing you need to do is identify that you actually have fire ants since they do call for a unique type of treatment compared to other ants.
You’ll want to start your assessment by trying to find ant “activity”, and look for the signature mounds in the lawn, and in the flowerbeds. Bear in mind fire ants can be found anywhere from the mid to the southern parts of the United States. They can also be located throughout the globe where we have moderate to warmer temperature levels.
To identify fire ants initially you can check out the size of the body. It can be anywhere from a sixteenth of an inch to as much as a quarter inch. Also, it has 3 body segments a head, thorax, and abdominal area that can quickly be identified.
For me, the best way to ID them is by their mounds. The mounds will normally be very large, and the color of the mound will be the color of your soil. So, sandy soil will produce light-colored sandy mounds. Clay soil will produce red mounds, and so on.
They are really noticeable after a rain when they bring up soil that is wet inside the mound. The mounds seem to get a lot larger after a good rain. So, make certain to check your home for these ant mounds which are usually huge piles of dirt that stand well above the surface of the ground.
These can be found in turf grasses, and landscape designs. If you disrupt the pile you will certainly alert thousands of ants that will cover the surface area and they will start looking for the person that disturbed them. They won’t be happy. They’ll try to sting you and inject their venom.
What Products Work?
Several years ago, a product called Amdro came out and was supposed to be the “silver bullet” product to eradicate fire ants. I used several containers of it and was never impressed. I’m not saying it didn’t work at all, but any control that took place seemed to take forever. I would wait a week or two and the fire ant mounds were still there. Yes, they may have slowed down a little bit, but I’m not trying to slow them down, I’m trying to eradicate them.
So, my strategy has changed. I started using a liquid product called Bifen IT (my Amazon affiliate link)with great success. I like using Bifen IT because I can treat individual mounds and not have to spray my entire yard. Also, because I’m not spraying the entire yard, there is less risk of exposure to pets and other animals.
I treat the mounds. Just the mounds. Using a Pump-Up Sprayer (my Amazon affiliate link), I mix (per label directions) a sprayer full of the diluted Bifen mixture. I lightly spray on top of the mound, then I direct the spray into the center of the mound like a jet. I hold that spray for 10 to 20 seconds.
I am trying to allow the chemical to penetrate the mound and go down into the channels and corridors where they live. Be careful. The ants are going to really be ticked-off so watch your feet. They will run up your legs and attack if you allow them to do so.
Watch your shoes to make sure they are not climbing up them, and never, never treat for fire ants in thongs or barefoot. I’ve found using Bifen IT in this method almost always kills the mound. Usually within 24 hours. Sometimes, I may have to treat a second time, but that is a rarity.
Another reason I like using Bifen IT is that I raise chickens and I’m a little wary of sprinkling a product that is “granular” like Amdro in my chicken run. It looks too much like chicken feed, and I’m afraid they will eat it. So, in my chicken run, I just spray into the mound (I do not spray on top of the mound), so really, the chickens have little or no exposure to the product.
The Bifen label says that it’s not harmful to pets or animals after it dries anyway, but I just take the extra precaution of not spraying over the entire mound. I just spray into the mound. I have a video on YouTube with hundreds of thousands of views that detail this process. You can watch it HERE. I have had many people use the product, then come back and leave a comment on how well it worked for them.
Is There A Granular Product That Works?
Absolutely. If you would rather be somewhat “hands-off” in your fire ant control, and not walk around your property with a heavy sprayer. I have a second method that works just as well, if not better. It’s a granule (like Amdro) but this stuff really works. It’s called Advion (my Amazon affiliate link), and it’s amazing.
You still have to apply it by hand, so it’s not completely hands-off, but it’s just a sprinkle here and a sprinkle there in your lawn or garden and you’re done. I use Advion on the outskirts of my garden and I haven’t had a fire ant mound in my garden for a long time. I think you’ll really like it.
Read the label. It’s a “bait”. That means it’s something yummy that the fire ants are going to really like and take home to Momma. By the way, if you get Momma, you get the whole mound. The application is so easy. All you do is sprinkle the product over the mound. You can even put it in a hand spreader or push spreader and apply it to the whole property if you desire to.
The label says don’t “disturb” the mound. You want them to find it while they’re out strolling for food for the folks at home. Also, don’t water it in, or spread it when there is a chance of rain (or sprinklers coming on). It needs to be dry for them to want to bring it home for dinner.
I really think you’ll find Advion to be a great alternative to Bifen. In fact, most of my treatment program now is with Advion. If I’m using a sprayer full of Bifen for roaches or some other pest, I might hit a mound or two if I see them, but It’s been a while since I’ve mixed a whole sprayer of Bifen just for fire ants. I just sprinkle some Advion and I’m all done.
When Is The Best Time To Treat?
Ants like to forage early in the early morning or late in the evening so if you see activity, that means they’re out proactively foraging. That’s a good time to apply a bait such as Advion. Start by treating those mounds that you recognize as active. The Advion label says to make certain not to kick or disrupt the mound. I think this makes them wise to what’s going on. You want them to be unsuspecting of the treatment you are giving them.
Personally, I treat with Advion anytime I see a new mound. In fact, if I don’t have my jug of Advion with me, or if I ran out, I will mark the mound with a little flag like they use when they’re marking an underground cable or something like that.
Then, I know where the mound is so I can come back and treat it when I have the Advion in hand. And, the little flags allow me to easily find the mound in a day or two when I come back and check to make sure it’s gone. And it usually is. On some occasions, I’ve had to treat some large mounds twice, but that’s rare.
Fire Ants are a danger. They can absolutely take over a lawn or a garden. With some of the new products, there’s no reason your property should remain a fire ant haven. And as I said before, some people are highly allergic to them and could go into anaphylactic shock.
Sadly, some have died. So, for the sake of your family, your pets, and your visitors, find a product that works for you. Think of the liability issues if someone got seriously hurt on your property, and you didn’t try to be proactive with your fire ant prevention.
The products mentioned here have worked well for me and I won’t be without them. Here are the Before and After results of treating Fire Ants on my property: WATCH!
My YouTube Channel has around 800 videos dealing with Homesteading, Gardening, and Emergency Preparedness. You can find them all HERE.