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Yale Park Homeowners Association

Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Kimberly Schofield
Program Specialist-Urban IPM

Time to Treat for Fire Ants

Red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren, are an invasive species that has infested over 300 million acres in the southern United States.  On average, Americans spend over $6 billion a year on medical bills, repairing damage to electrical wiring and purchasing insecticides for treatment of fire ants.  For these reasons, the use of chemicals is needed to manage their populations, in order to allow the native ant species back into the landscape.

Fire ant baits, drenches, dusts and contact insecticides may be applied to control fire ants.  It is advised to treat the individual fire ant mounds directly if less than 5 mounds are found within a ¼ acre or less than 20 mounds within 1 acre, since this is not considered an infestation.  However, if more than 5 mounds are present within a ¼ acre or 20 mounds within an acre, then a fire ant bait or contact insecticide should be broadcasted over the entire infested area.  Fire ant baits are made up of defatted corn grit covered with insecticide and soybean oil.  The delivery process of baits into the colony is so effective, that the amount of insecticide applied within an area is significantly reduced.  Before broadcasting the fire ant bait, foraging activity should be assessed, by placing a potato chip or hot dog next to the mound.  If fire ants find the chip or hot dog within twenty minutes, then it is a suitable time to broadcast the bait.  Fire ants will typically actively forage when the soil surface temperature is between 70 and 90º F, which is between May and September.  Fire ant baits should never be watered into the soil and they should not be applied if they smell rancid.  On the other hand, contact insecticides can also be broadcasted over the entire infested area and need to be watered into the soil.  Control using contact insecticides generally lasts for 6 to 12 months, depending on the active ingredient within the insecticide.

Both fire ant baits and contact insecticides can be broadcasted using a hand-held spreader for small areas or a Herd Seeder can be mounted onto a truck or ATV for larger areas.

For more information about fire ants, please visit the fire ant webpage at www.fireant.tamu.edu

Photo of fire ant workers and fire ant mound.
Photo by Bart Drees, Professor and Extension Entomologist,
Texas A&M University.

Mention of commercial products is for educational purposes only and does not represent endorsement by Texas AgriLife Extension or The Texas A&M University System.  Insecticide label registrations are subject to change, and changes may have occurred since this publication was printed.  The pesticide user is always responsible for applying products in accordance with label directions.  Always read and carefully follow the instructions on the container label.

Email Mark Solomon Link to www.Assurnet.biz website

Email Abby Miller Link to www.FathomRealty.com website

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