The red imported fire ant builds mounds in almost any type of soil, but prefers open, sunny areas such as pastures, parks, lawns, meadows and cultivated fields. Some localized areas, even within heavily infested regions, have little or no imported fire ant infestation. Surveys should be conducted to determine if the number of imported fire ant mounds is high enough to justify treatment, or what type of treatment is necessary. |
Treatment methods and products vary greatly in effectiveness, speed of activity, practicality (labor requirements), toxicity to the user and the environment, compatibility with other options, and cost. Carefully study available treatment methods and their proper use in order to choose the best one for a particular situation. Many methods and products have been evaluated.
The strengths and limitations of the program should be acknowledged. For instance, a broadcast bait will eliminate most (usually 90 to 95 percent) of the fire ant mounds in an area temporarily (6 to 18 months). It will not eradicate them permanently. The speed at which suppression will occur is rather slow.
A city government might help coordinate the aerial application of a fire ant bait to an entire town. Areas where baits must not be applied, such as swimming pools and vegetable gardens, would have to be covered during application. Widespread citizen support would be essential.In each state there is an agency that regulates the commercial pest control and application of pesticides. Anyone using "restricted use" insecticides must have a valid commercial or non-commercial pesticide applicator's license.
In some states, there are special regulations governing the use of pesticides to treat public school grounds.Currently, the best biological ant control method for fire ants is to preserve native and exotic ant species that compete with them for food and nesting sites. One way to preserve native ants is the judicious use of insecticides.
Physical and mechanical methods
Pouring very hot or boiling water on a mound is a fairly effective treatment, particularly at times when ants are close to the mound surface, such as on a cool, sunny morning. Approximately 3 gallons of very hot (almost boiling) water poured on each mound will eliminate about 60 percent of the mounds treated. Be careful handling large volumes of hot water to prevent serious burns, and keep hot water off of desired plants and grass.
Sometimes it may be sufficient to move colonies away from sensitive areas such as gardens. Disturbing or knocking down mounds frequently will cause colonies to move. Some people believe shoveling one mound on top of another will force ants to kill each other, but this is not true.
In addition to very hot or boiling water, other "home remedies" have been tried. While these methods sometimes appear to work, they rarely eliminate colonies. Usually, the ant colony simply moves to a new location because of the disturbance, or the queen and a few workers temporarily remain hidden underground.
Gasoline and other petroleum products do kill some fire ant colonies. However, petroleum products are dangerously flammable or explosive, kill grass and plants around the treated mounds, and can seriously pollute the soil and ground water. Use of petroleum products, solvents, battery acids, bleaches or ammonia products can be dangerous and is strongly discouraged, except when they are ingredients in a registered pesticide
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