You are here

Control in Home Lawns

Fire ants are the most common pests of home lawns in Mississippi. They are not welcome guests! Unknowingly stepping in a fire ant mound can ruin an otherwise pleasant time in the yard.

A mature mound will house over 100,000 ants.
A mature mound will house over 100,000 ants.

Fire ant stings are always painful, but, when they occur in large numbers, they can be especially threatening to young children or people suffering from health problems. People vary in their sensitivity to fire ant stings. For the very small portion of people who are hypersensitive to fire ant stings, even a few stings can be life threatening.

Many homeowners view fire ant control as an unattainable goal, and if you try to control fire ants by only treating individual mounds, it is difficult to make much progress. Control one mound and two more pop up in its place. But it is possible to control fire ants without spending too much time or money. The key to successful fire ant control is to use a combination of control methods and to treat preventively.

Baits: Use granular baits as the foundation of your fire ant control effort. Baits work slowly, but they are quite effective. Baits work best when used preventively. If you don’t want to have big fire ant mounds in the yard, you have to treat before you have big fire ant mounds in the yard! Broadcast baits over your lawn one to three times per year. Once per year may be enough in urban areas but you may need to apply baits two to three times per year in rural areas.

Mound Treatments: Use mound treatments to spot treat any mounds that survive the bait treatments. Dry mound treatments are a quick, convenient way to treat fire ant mounds. Keep a can of one of the dry mound treatments handy for mounds you notice while doing lawn chores. Liquid drenches are messier and more time-consuming, but they are the quickest way to control mounds that need to be eliminated immediately.

Broadcast Insecticide Treatments: Broadcast insecticide treatments are contact insecticides that kill fire ants as they travel through treated soil. Some of the granular broadcast insecticides are quite effective and long-lasting. Because they are more expensive than baits, some homeowners use them only on especially sensitive sites and use baits in the rest of the yard.

More Information

How to control fire ants
Biology of fire ants
Fire Ant Facts
Publication 2429: Control Fire Ants in Your Yard - products recommended for fire ant control

Contact

Dr. Blake Layton, Extension Entomology Specialist
Department of Entomology, Mississippi State University
Phone: (662) 325-2085
Email: blayton@entomology.msstate.edu

Printer Friendly and PDF

News

Fire ant mounds are common along fence lines where they are protected from grass-cutting equipment and other traffic, such as this mound in an Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, pasture on May 11, 2015. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kevin Hudson)
Filed Under: Forages, Insects-Forage Pests, Fire Ants May 19, 2015

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.

The biggest reason people have trouble controlling fire ants is that they only treat individual fire ant mounds. Individual mound treatments can be useful situationally, but need to be supplemented with broadcast treatments that will control all fire ants in all areas. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kat Lawrence)
Filed Under: Agriculture, Insects-Crop Pests, Insects-Forage Pests, Insects, Fire Ants, Insects-Pests May 15, 2015

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.

Many dogs spend time outside and often share their play areas with fire ants. When disturbed, the ants sting and deliver venom that can cause severe allergic reactions for some pets and children. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Susan Collins-Smith)
Filed Under: Fire Ants May 5, 2015

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Fire ants can be more than unwelcome guests in the home lawn; their stings can be dangerous for children and pets who share play areas with the pests.

Fire ant stings are characterized by sharp localized pain, swelling and intense itchiness that is just a short-lived nuisance for most. A raised red bump appears soon after the sting and soon turns into a sterile pustule that resembles a pimple. However, the ants’ venom can cause severe allergic reactions in some people and pets.

Fire ant mounds, such as this one in Clay County, harbor an invasive species that has a negative impact on wildlife, including reptiles, mammals and ground-nesting birds. (Photo by MSU/Blake Layton)
Filed Under: Fire Ants April 28, 2015

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Blake Layton grew up quail hunting in Simpson County and has seen the steady decline of quail as fire ant populations expanded across the state.

Layton, an entomologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the farm he grew up on has the same habitat as it did when he was a child, but it has more fire ants and fewer quail and other wildlife species.

Most fire ants found in Mississippi are a hybrid between the red imported fire ant, pictured here, and the black imported fire ant. (Photo by Mississippi Entomological Museum/Joe A. MacGown)
Filed Under: Fire Ants April 24, 2015

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Tell Mississippians that fire ants have completely invaded the state, and they’ll probably shrug and say they already know that. Tell them the pain actually comes from a sting rather than a bite, and they’ll say it still hurts. But tell them how to get rid of the nasty critters, and they’re all ears.

The Mississippi State University Extension Service is organizing efforts to help residents Bite Back against fire ants. The solution is a simple two-part attack, but success comes in the long-term follow-through.

Watch

Fire Ant Control - MSU Extension Service
Extension Stories

Fire Ant Control

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - 1:45pm

Contact Your County Office

Your Extension Experts

Extension Professor
Entomology; extension insect identification; fire ants; termites; insect pests in the home, lawn and