Entomology and Plant Pathology

Quick Tips

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Some Do's and Don'ts of fire ant control) *note: This is not an inclusive list, just a representation of some of the more common mistakes some people make (and you can avoid!) when dealing with red imported fire ants.
 

When treating individual mounds:

 
Dont's Do's
Don't disturb the mound intentionally. Stirring the soil, poking holes in the mound, or otherwise provoking the ants will cause control failures and increase the likelihood of painful stings. Do take care to disturb the mound as little as possible. When applying dusts and granules, apply them gently to avoid disturbing the colony.
Don't apply products before reading all application instructions. Taking shortcuts will result in decreased control and increased expense. Each product comes with its own specialized instructions for application. Do be sure to apply according to label instructions. If the label calls for the product to be watered in, use a watering can with a sprinkler head and apply water gently. Read carefully-some products call for water, and others do not!
Don't place bait products directly on top of mounds. The bait will not be discovered rapidly enough by foraging ants. Do place bait products around mounds, a short distance (2-3 feet) from the mound edge. The ants will discover the baits more quickly, resulting in better control.
Don't use products that do not specifically indicate red imported fire ants on the label. Spraying fire ants with household products may kill many workers, but will not eliminate entire colonies as effectively as those products labeled for fire ant control. Do follow label instructions on ALL pesticide products-it's the law, and will result in better control. Many products that target fire ants have important information on them regarding the timing of treatment, which is critical for achieving satisfactory control.
Don't attempt to control fire ants located within electrical and/or telephone equipment, unless you are a qualified, licensed Pest Control Operator. Do contact your utility company or a licensed Pest Control Operator to avoid serious injury to yourself or, at the very least, damage to electrical equipment.
Don't treat mounds individually when it is very hot outside. The ants will go deep into the soil when it is hot, making it difficult to treat them with contact insecticides. Do treat mounds individually on sunny mornings after cool nights. In the morning hours, the ants will be located close to the upper surface of the mound, making contact with insecticides more likely.

FINALLY:

Don't use gasoline, diesel fuel, motor oil, bleach or other household cleaners, or other "home remedies" to combat fire ants. These products are generally ineffective, can cause serious damage to lawns, and are harmful to the environment. They are also costly, compared to insecticides!

 

When broadcasting bait formulations against red imported fire ants:

 
Dont's Do's
Don't apply baits when it is too hot, too cold, or there is dew on the grass. Do apply baits when soil temperatures are around 80 F (between 70 and 90), after monitoring for activity
Don't apply baits right after or right before a rain. Do apply baits when the ground is relatively dry, and no rain is expected for 24 hours.
Don't be impatient-bait formulations can take 2 to 6 weeks or more before control is achieved! Further application of insecticides within that time interval can be a waste of money. Do allow bait formulations time to be taken in by the ants and distributed within the colony. This means avoiding disturbance of treated colonies for at least a few days following application.
Don't use products that are old or were opened more than a few months ago. The oil attractant in bait products can become rancid and less attractive to the ants. Do use fresh products, and be sure to shake the bait container well before opening. This will prevent settling of the oil attractant in the bait.  
Don't mix baits with fertilizer, as this will decrease the attractiveness of the bait to ants. Don't use lawn fertilizer spreaders to apply baits. Use recommended methods of broadcasting fire ant baits. These include hand-held seed spreaders and some brands of tractor-mounted seed spreaders (Herd and Cyclone are two examples).

 
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