Warmer weather and recent rains have enhanced fire ant activity with more mounds becoming visible in our lawns. Not only are the mounds unsightly, but the sting from fire ants are extremely painful and for some people even life threatening. Therefore, controlling fire ants should be as much a part of your lawn management activities as mowing, watering, and fertilizing.
There are several methods of controlling fire ants, but baits are probably the most convenient and easiest products for homeowners to apply. They also are effective in controlling tiny new mounds that we might overlook hidden in the turf canopy.
Adhering to a few application tips will ensure the most effective use of bait.
1) Don’t apply too much. The rate for most bait is only one to two pounds per acre.
2) Use fresh bait. Ants are not attracted to old bait that has gone rancid.
3) Since fire ants forage for their food apply bait by broadcasting it over the entire lawn and not just on top of mounds.
4) Avoid applying bait just before rainfall and do not irrigate for at least two days after applying.
5) Be patient as bait is slow-acting.
6) Apply fire ant bait preventively. Don’t wait till you see large mounds. By the time mounds are visible several smaller unseen colonies are being established.
7) Apply bait up to three times per year, spring, summer, and fall for season long control.
8) Eliminate mounds the bait misses with additional individual mound treatments.
Several excellent publications on fire ant control are available at your local Extension office or can be downloaded from this website. Once at the home page simply type fire ants in the search box.
Published April 2, 2012
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org