If you’ve ever spotted a fire ant mound on your lawn, you might decided it was just a small problem. It’s a tiny pile of dirt. How hard could it be to get rid of it?
Unfortunately, there’s a lot packed into that little mound. Fire ant colonies can contain over 200,000 workers and thousands of new eggs. That’s why quick fire ant control can be essential if you want to preserve your lawn!
If you’re struggling to figure out what to do with your infestation, here’s what to know.
The Goal of Fire Ant Control
When you spot a mound of fire ants in your yard, your first impulse may be to throw any pesticide you have at it. However, the wrong product can be both hazardous and ineffective.
Before you launch an attack, you have to understand the goal.
All fire ants aim to protect, feed, and care for their queen, the only member of the colony that lays eggs. Research suggests that mature queens may lay 800-1,000 eggs a day. In other words, the only way to get rid of fire ants is to take out the queen.
Even if your treatment method manages to kill every other fire ant in the colony, you’ve lost the battle. The colony will grow back over time, and you’ll be right back at square one. Worse, some colonies have multi-queen nests, making your job that much more complex.
Fire Ant Prevention Tips
If you want to keep fire ants at bay, be careful about what’s on your lawn!
As stated above, one goal of worker ants is to make sure their queen is well-fed. To that end, they’ll search the area around their colony for any available food.
Oily or greasy foods are some of their favorites. If there’s any food waste in your yard, especially in the area where you store your garbage bins, make sure you keep it under control.
Fire ants also love to feed on other insects. If you’re struggling with beetles, flies, chinch bugs, or other nuisances, controlling those populations might be the key to preventing fire ants.
Last, fire ants need a bit of moisture to survive and tend to build colonies in a moist environment. If you have stagnant water around your home, such as in a well-mulched area or near a drainpipe, you’re more likely to spot fire ants as well.
Options for Controlling Fire Ants
To control a colony of fire ants or prevent one from spreading, you have two main options.
These products help you tackle a single mound. Though you can find them at a home improvement store, letting a pro apply them is often your best bet for lasting treatment.
Contact killer solutions, as their name suggests, kill fire ants on contact. This can be helpful if you’re dealing with a few ants here and there or you’re trying to keep them from crossing the border into your property. However, with the wrong application, they won’t be effective at killing the queen.
Bait control solutions are slow-acting. With these products, ants will recognize the bait as food, bringing it back to the colony (and thus the queen). However, if these baits work too fast, worker ants may die before they ever reach her.
When fire ant prevention is the name of the game, lawn treatments can help. These treatments include long-lasting insecticides that you’ll sprinkle across the lawn or dilute with water to spray over the grass. With professional treatment, these lawn solutions are effective and long-lasting.
How Not to Get Rid of Fire Ants
We’ve had plenty of clients try DIY home solutions to get rid of fire ants, but they aren’t the best use of your time. If you’re trying to get rid of a fire ant infestation, skip the tactics below.
Pouring boiling water on a colony of ants is one of those ideas that seems like it should work.
However, unless you manage to kill the queen far below the surface, you’ll probably just enrage the colony. Worse, having ants scatter over the ground while splashing boiling water on yourself is a recipe for disaster.
Gasoline, Motor Oil, or Diesel Fuel
Like boiling water, these products are unlikely to kill the queen. At best, they will make the colony relocate its mound.
Worse, these products are hazardous chemicals, more expensive than most pesticides, and will kill your landscaping.
Essential Oils and Strong Smells
We’ve heard this one a lot: why not drive ants away with essential oils, vinegar, or citrus peels? After all, the strong scents repel insects, including ants. Peppermint and citrus oil can even kill them.
It’s true that ants don’t like these scents, but that’s not enough to keep them off your lawn. As with the methods above, the best outcome here is that the ant colony might relocate a few feet away. Even if you kill a few surface workers, you won’t reach the queen.
When to Call a Pro
Getting rid of fire ants on your own isn’t impossible, especially if you’re dealing with a single small colony.
However, you should always call a pro if you’re dealing with a larger colony, when multiple mounds are growing in your yard, or if your own efforts keep failing.
Thanks to their wealth of experience, professional turf management teams can ensure fast and effective treatment. Expert application of the right pesticides for the job, in addition to the correct timing of the treatment, is crucial for keeping fire ants under control.
Get Rid of Your Fire Ants Today
Fire ant control can be intimidating when you’re trying it on your own. In such large numbers, these tiny pests are frustrating nuisances that will do anything to defend their territory! That’s why the finding right solutions makes such a critical difference.
At Coastal Green Turf Management, we understand how tough it can be to keep unwanted guests away from your healthy lawn. Our pest control solutions make it easy for property owners throughout the Missouri City area to preserve their green investments. To learn how we can help, contact us today.
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