“Ant mounds have appeared seemingly overnight. Where are they coming from? Are we being invaded?”
Never fear – we are not being attacked by an army of ants. They have always been there, but are just now showing themselves.
With fire ants, mounds may not be visible on the surface, but underground, the mounds are composed of numerous tunnels and compartments. Due to the recent heavy rains, the soil has become saturated. Because of the large amount of water in the soil, it has become necessary for the ants to move the mound above ground.
Another contributing factor is the warm weather that we have enjoyed lately. Ants are actively foraging and moving about when air temperatures are above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. You should use the activity of these little nuisances to your advantage and take this opportunity to start controlling fire ants.
Baits are the best and most cost effective control strategy when dealing with fire ants. However, the ants must be actively foraging for the bait product to work. Bait products are perceived as food by the ants, and are picked up and taken back to the mound. To ensure that ants are actively foraging, place a small piece of hot dog or potato chip in the affected area. Wait thirty minutes and then check to see if any ants are on the food pieces. If so, then it is the correct time to apply your bait product. Applying the bait is a very simple process. You can use a rotary spreader to broadcast the bait over your entire lawn and/or landscape area. ALWAYS READ THE LABEL for rate recommendations.
In some cases, a successful control strategy may include broadcasting a bait product as well treating individual nuisance mounds. Using treatment plans like the Two Step Method (details listed below), can provide specific and continued control of fire ants, in a cost-effective way.
Two Step Method
- Step 1. Broadcast a fire ant bait once or twice a year to reduce fire ant colonies by 80 to 90 percent.
- Step 2. Treat nuisance mounds or colonies that move into the bait-treated areas. Step 2 may not be needed
By Bethany O’Rear, Regional Extension Agent, Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Contact Bethany at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.