Fire ants can’t be eliminated entirely because it’s not possible to treat all areas that are infested. Thus the goal of current integrated pest management programs is to suppress fire ants as much as possible with biological control methods and use insecticides only where it is economically and environmentally justifiable to do so.
There may not be one “best” method for fire ant control, especially in large areas. The objective should be to find the method or methods that are cost effective and environmentally sound. In areas where these ants do not present problems, doing nothing is certainly one option.
Have You Two-Stepped Lately? The Two-Step Method for Fire Ant Control
The bait you apply determines how quickly ants will be controlled and how long the effect will last. Faster acting bait products include indoxacarb (works in 3-10 days), hydramethylnon (works in 7-14 days for mound treatments and in 2-3 weeks when broadcast), and spinosad (works in several weeks). They may need to be re-applied more often than slower acting and longer lasting products such as abamectin, fenoxycarb, methoprene or pyriproxyfen, which work in 1-2 months when applied in spring and 6 months when applied in fall.
Products that combine fast- and slow-acting ingredients, such as hydramethylnon plush methoprene (Extinguish® Plus, Amdro® Firestrike), may control ants better because they act quickly and last longer.
Long Residual Contact Insecticide Treatments
With this approach, a contact insecticide is applied to the lawn and landscape surface This is more expensive that other control methods but it may be more effective in smaller areas because ants that move into treated areas will be eliminated as long as the chemical is active. Granular products are best applied with a push-type fertilizer spreader and must be watered in after treatment.
Granular fipronil products are slower acting but longer lasting; only one treatment is permitted per year. Faster-acting contact insecticides, such as pyrethroids eliminate ants on the surface for months but may not eliminate colonies nesting deeper in the soil.
Although treating ant mounds individually is more labor intensive and may use more insecticide than other mothods it is a suitable approach for small areas with few fire ant mounds (fewer than 20 per acre) or where you want to preserve native ants.
Faster acting baits products (hydramethylnon, indoxacarb, spinosad) can be used to treat individual ant mounds and are ideal for treating inaccessible colonies like those nesting under sidewalks, in plant beds and at the bases of tree trunks. Some mound treatment products are available as liquid drenches, injectable aerosols, dusts or granules that are watered into the mound. Ants are killed only if the insecticide contacts them, so proper application is essential. These treatments are most effective when ants are nesting close to the mound surface (as they do when the temperature is mild). Colonies should not be disturbed during treatment. If you use a watering can to apply insecticide, do not use the can later for other purposes.
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For specific questions about fire ant control, contact Paul Nester at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This site is intended to cover only broadcast-applied fire ant control products. Literally dozens of products are available as individual mound treatments. Contact your local Extension Agent or return to http://fireant.tamu.edu for more information on individual mound treatments.
Because of the constantly changing availability of fire ant insecticides, it is virtually impossible to include every product on the market. Mention of a product on this site does not imply an endorsement by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the Southern Region IPM Center or any cooperating state. Lack of mention does not imply that the product is not an effective fire ant control product.