Fire ants are the worst. Seriously, the worst. Sometimes their mounds are big and easy to spot and then avoid. Sometimes, you can be standing at the mailbox and not realize you’re standing on their mound until your feet are on fire and you can’t stop scratching.
Fire ants need to die.
Sure, fire ants have some good uses. Their deep underground nests reduce soil compaction. The tunnels help aerate the soil. They eat other nasty arthropods, like insects, mites, and ticks.
But is that worth swollen feet and burning, itchy pain? Is that worth not being able to wear close toed shoes because it rubs across the ugly pimple looking bites covering the top of your foot? Those suckers are devious too. They don’t stick to your feet. Try to brush them off your lower extremities and the hearty ones will just clamp onto your hands instead, then travel down your shirt as you shake your hand in pain, accidentally knocking the little horror down your t-shirt.
Let them aerate the soil in the woods. They can eat the ticks in the grass by the roads that harm your sweet dog. But those painful little terrors are not welcome in my yard. And I’m sure they’re not wanted in yours either.
Tiny beasts, fire ants have reddish colored heads and reddish-brown or black bodies. You don’t want to mess with them.
- When their mound is disturbed, they attack as a group, swarming their victim.
- They don’t just bite. They take a firm bite with their creepily strong mouths (mandibles) then they sting you and inject venom with the stinger on the end of their abdomen.
- Then they repeat until you kill them or brush them off.
That venom can cause allergic reactions, ranging from swelling, all the way to death. It poses a particular danger for children and the elderly, as they are often unaware of the attack or unable to run away, until they have been injected with a dangerous amount of venom.
During the summer months, their activity is at it’s highest, as they are constantly out foraging for food for their massive colonies. Known for getting into electrical boxes, well pumps, and even AC units, fire ants will enter homes, sheds, garages, or anywhere else they need to, if they think it will bring them to food.
This makes fire ants a danger to your property, your people, and your pets.
SPREADING LIKE WILD FIRE
Like all the painful things in life, fire ants reproduce quickly and spread easily. The queen can live up to 7 years and lays 1,000 eggs a day. A single mature colony can have nearly half a million female worker ants. When the colony gets large, they spread out to smaller mounds around the big one.
GET. THEM. GONE.
Ah, if only it were that easy! Fire ants are incredibly difficult to manage and it’s virtually impossible to get rid of them entirely. The best course of action in our own experience is the two step method.
Treat your entire lawn with a broad spectrum bait. You can purchase these baits on Amazon, Lowes, Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Walmart, etc. It’s usually comprised of grits with soybean oil, coated with the pesticide.
*Fun fact: Fire ants like grease.*
Some people (and folklore) suggest sprinkling their mounds with plain grits or flour, suggesting that they will blow up when they eat it. That’s called feeding the ants and we don’t recommend it, unless you’re trying to increase the population and start a fire ant petting zoo.
Baits work slowly, taking weeks or even months to kill the majority of the ants. The ants eat the bait and take it back the queen, rendering her infertile or (hopefully!) killing her.
Baits to try:
- Raid Rire Ant Killer
Ants are weirdly picky, and won’t go for rancid bait, so you can throw away whatever you don’t use because it’s best to always start with a new container. Baits are generally applied dry and spread broadly with a seed spreader. You can apply it once or twice a year, the fall being an excellent time to start. Spread the bait during the later afternoon or evening and don’t mix it with seed or fertilizer. Just slap on your Fitbit and get in your steps!
Wait a few days and then follow up with step 2.
Treat mounds individually
There are many different types of chemical treatments. Dust product don’t need water and they act fast, but they leave the dusty residue, which is unsightly and can be harmful to pets and children.
Granular products are fast but require more work. You sprinkle the granules on the fire ant mound, the veeeeery carefully pour a couple gallons of water on the granules. The tricky part here, is not disturbing the mound.
We at RCI+Topsail prefer liquid drenches. It only takes a few hours to work and there’s little residue.
Obviously, you must read the directions on the bottle.
If chemicals aren’t your thing, or your fire ant problems are in or around your well (a more common issue than you might think), you can treat each mound organically.
Pour 2-3 gallons of boiling (or at least very, very hot!) water on the mound. It has a 60% success rate. Those suckers are tough, so 40% of the time, they just move to a new location. There is a higher rate that it will kill your grass.
Fall is a great time to treat fire ants. The slow acting broad spectrum granules that take a few months to work can keep killing off the ants all winter long, leaving you with fewer monsters in the spring. Fire ant mounds are also closer to the surface in the fall, as they don’t have to burrow as deep to stay out of the summer heat.
This site is intended to entertain, educate, offer opinions, and share information about the community we live in. While the staff of RCI+Topsail is comprised of brilliant minds with excellent research skills, we are not professionals in the subject above and we do not claim to be. Do your research and talk to professionals. Follow directions and use common sense. We do not endorse or imply endorsement of products listed, unless explicitly stated. Lack of mention does not imply that product or business is lesser than the ones mentioned.