Red Fire Ants and Fire Ant Treatment
Both native and Red Imported Fire Ants can sting. Red Imported Fire Ants are very aggressive and their sting can cause reactions ranging from irritation and nausea to even more severe reactions.
Red Fire Ants are also known to attack animals that intrude on their nests. Besides attacking people and animals they can also cause damage to plants, buildings, air-conditioning units, and telephone wires. The reason is not clear, but fire ants seem to be attracted to electrical currents, and they cause damage by nesting in places such as electrical junction boxes. There are two kinds of Red Imported Fire Ants; the single-queen and multiple-queen types.
Workers in single-queen colonies are territorial, foraging only within their territory. Workers from multiple-queen colonies are not territorial; they freely move from one mound to another, which has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of mounds per acre.
Areas infested with single-queen colonies contain 40-150 mounds per acre (rarely more than 7 million ants per acre). In areas with multiple-queen colonies, there may be 200 or more mounds and 40 million Red Imported Fire Ants per acre.
The Red Imported Fire Ant builds mounds in almost any type of soil, but prefers open, sunny areas such as pastures, parks, lawns, meadows, and cultivated fields. Colonies can also be located in or under buildings.
Mounds containing colonies can reach 18 inches in height, depending on the type of soil. Many times mounds are located in rotting logs and around stumps and trees.
The mound has no opening in the center like most Ant mounds. Red Imported Fire Ants enter and exit the mound through underground tunnels. When their mounds are disturbed, the workers will come out of the ground and sting the intruder very aggressively.
The Red Imported Fire Ant can have huge colonies with 300-500,000 workers foraging at distances of 100 yards. Fire ant activity ranges from the spring into fall months. During the spring and summer months, the active mounds send out winged swarmer ants whose sole job is to start new colonies.
Sometimes the Red Imported Fire Ant will nest inside buildings during the winter months under bathtubs (when on a slab), or next to hot water heaters. The Southern Fire Ant usually nests in loose soil, but at times they can be found in woodwork or masonry. Their nests may be seen as large crevices in the ground that spread out from 2-4 feet. Southern Fire Ant nests can also be found under houses, under boards or stones, or in cracks in the concrete.
Colonies frequently migrate from one site to another. The queen only needs a few workers to start a new colony. They can develop a new mound several hundred feet away from their previous location in a matter of hours.
Flooding causes colonies to leave their mounds and float until they can reach land to establish a new mound..
For more information about Fire Ants, refer to Top 10 Things to Know About Fire Ants
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USDA and United States Department of Agriculture
(Courtesy of the National Pest Control Association.)
Red Imported Fire Ants have the the following characteristics:
- Mounds of loose soil, resembling gopher diggings, are found above ground.
- Red Imported Fire Ant mounds are generally numerous and easily seen.
- Worker Fire Ants are dark, small, highly variable in size, aggressive, and sting relentlessly.
- Workers of all sizes have the same body proportions: head width never exceeds the abdomen width, even in the largest workers.
Fire Ant Reproduction
Total time from egg to adult averages 30 days. Workers live up to 180 days, and queens live two to six years.
Red Fire Ant and Diet
Red Imported Fire Ants will not only forage for food (such as small insects, dead animals, and sweet materials such as plant secretions) but will kill insects and small animals to feed .
The Southern Fire Ant is attracted to a variety of foods including protein, greases, and sweet foods.
Fire Ant Control
Broadcast Fire Ant Bait: The broadcasting method is the first step. Broadcast a fire ant bait over the entire area. We recommend treating at a couple times a year during the warm months. This will solve 80-90 percent of your fire ant infestation. If there are still troublesome mounds, treat the individual mounds.
Treat Individual Mounds:
Treating the mounds individually, without doing a broadcast treatment for the whole yard first may be a uphill battle.
- You can use the drench method of a liquid insecticide poured into the mound; make sure that the whole mound is treated. Pour enough volume of the liquid insecticide into the mound to kill the queens.
- Use Fire Ant Baits around each mound (not on top)
Advion Fire Ant Bait is our top recommendation because it is fast acting.
Top Fire Ant Baits
Broadcast treatment: 1.5 - 5 lbs. per acre, mounds: 4 level tablespoons around mound. Do not apply immediately before or after irrigation or rain.
Comes in 2lb and 25 lb packages
A one-pound container of Surrender Fire Ant Killer can treat up to 108 Fire Ant mounds . Surrender Fire Ant Killer is an agricultural Fire Ant insecticide. Surrender Fire Ant Killer (Acephate 75%) is an effective Fire Ant control.
Maxforce FC Ant Bait contains the active ingredient Fipronil. Workers take it back to their queens to feed. Does not contain an IGR to stop newer generations, but will kill the existing colony.
Using insecticides for Fire Ant Control
When using a liquid insecticide killing the queen is the goal. You will want to drench the mound with the insecticide. The most effective way is to use a rod to form vertical tunnels in the mound to facilitate the liquid mixture reaching the queens.
We recommend Conquer Insecticide or Bifen IT for drenching Fire Ant mounds. The low vapor pressure forms a great quantity of fumes, quickly killing the Red Fire Ants. Use at a low dilution rate since you need a fairly large quantity of liquid. You will use several gallons for large colonies. Completely drenching the mound ensures Red Fire Ant colony extermination.
Conquer can be used inside for flea control as well and works well on various insects.
Bifen It has the same active ingredient and percentage as Talstar, but more economical. A great around product for outside pests, and works well on mosquitoes, ticks, fleas in the yard. Has a limited label to spray inside.
Drenching the mound ensures red fire ant killer.