Fire Ant Control In Commercial Fruits, Nuts and Vegetables
Fire ants are serious pests in commercial fruits, nuts, and vegetables, where they can cause a wide range of problems. Not only do they sting field workers and interfere with harvest and other hand labor operations, they also cause direct damage to crops such as okra or potatoes, and sometimes damage young trees by chewing through tender bark. Fire ants especially like to nest beneath plastic row covers in the winter and spring because of the increased warmth and protection they provide. Fire ants sometimes chew through irrigation tubing and cause damage to other equipment, either due to physical damage cause by their mounds, or by causing shorts in irrigation timers and other electrical equipment. Fire ants are especially unwelcomed in pick-your-own fruit and vegetable farms because of their ability to turn an enjoyable family experience into a, still memorable but far less pleasant experience that may make clients less likely to plan return visits.
Granular baits can be used to control fire ants, but only a few baits are labeled for use around food crops—be sure you use a bait that is. Baits work well, but they work slowly, so it is important to apply them preventively. See Extension Publication 2494, Control Fire Ants in Commercial Fruits, Nuts, and Vegetables for recommended bait treatments and how to apply them. Read the section on Fire Ant Biology to learn more about how and why baits work.
Contact information for Dr. Blake Layton.
Fire ants are everywhere. If you’ve thrown your hands up in exasperation trying to deal with them, don’t give up just yet. (File photo by MSU Extension Service)
Mississippi has an abundance of bugs, especially in the warmer months. We are all familiar with mosquitoes, bumblebees, and house flies. But I bet there are bugs around your house and yard that you can’t identify. (Photo by Blake Layton)
Just when we think we’ve conquered our tiny foes, it rains, and fresh fire ant mounds pop up in our yard.
Like many tasks around the house, fighting fire ants feels like a constant battle. My husband and I finally started seeing some progress when we followed recommendations from MSU Extension’s expert, Dr. Blake Layton. (Yeah, that’s a side benefit of my job, learning all kinds of practical information!)
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Southern farmers may never win the battle against imported fire ants, but aggressive tactics can slow the pests’ invasion, reduce damage and prevent further spread across the United States.
Jane Parish is an Extension/research professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. She said cattle and hay producers have learned to live with and work around the troublesome ants since the pests arrived in the state almost a century ago.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- People have many misconceptions on how to eliminate fire ant mounds and prevent them from coming back, and these erroneous beliefs hinder efforts to keep the harmful pest from spreading.