Controlling Fire Ants in the Fall

“It is finally beginning to feel like fall. The temperatures are cooling down, the leaves are beginning to change colors, and we are spending a lot more time outside, enjoying our surroundings. However, I had the unfortunate experience of stepping into a fire ant mound that seemed to appear overnight. Needless to say, it was not pleasant in the least. Is now a good time to treat for these angry little nuisances?”

Ouch – not exactly how anyone would want to start the fall season! However, now is the perfect time to rid your lawn or landscape of these unwelcome invaders. Here’s a guide to controlling fire ants in the fall season.

controlling fire ants in the fall

Fire ant mound. (Photo: Bethany O’Rear, Alabama Extension)

Fall temperatures are perfect for fire ant activity and foraging, making it an opportune time to put out fire ant bait. While the warm weather is rolling out and cooler air moves in, fire ants are still actively foraging. Fire ants look for protein-rich foods all year, but especially in the late spring and early fall.  Foragers usually continue searching for food until temperatures drop below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Using treatment plans like the Two Step Method (details below), can provide specific and continued control of fire ants, in a cost-effective way.

Two Step Method for Controlling Fire Ants

  1. Broadcast a fire ant bait once or twice a year to reduce fire ant colonies by 80 to 90 percent.
  2. Treat nuisance mounds or colonies that move into the bait-treated areas. Step 2 may not be needed.

For increased success, controlling fire ants should definitely be a team effort. Working with neighbors or surrounding landowners can boost your chances of knocking a dent in the population. Fire ant control is more effective when larger areas are treated. When an 80-90% control rate is acceptable, consider participating in a community- or neighborhood-wide treatment program. If the problem is widespread, a large treatment plan could be more effective than treating in small areas.

For more information on controlling fire ants, please visit www.aces.edu or http://www.extension.org/fire_ants.

By Bethany O’Rear, Regional Extension Agent, Alabama Cooperative Extension System.  Contact Bethany at bethany@aces.edu.


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) operates as the primary outreach organization for the land-grant functions of Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities. ACES is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity and the diversity of its workforce.  Educational programs of ACES serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or national origin.

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Alabama Extension

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System operates as the primary outreach organization for the land-grant functions of Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities and answers home-gardeners' questions each week on Birmingham Gardening Today.

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