Contact Insecticides

Many contact insecticides which include acephate (Orthene®), carbaryl (Sevin®), fipronil (Over ‘N Out®), pyrethrins, pyrethroids (bifethrin, cyfluthrin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, lambda-cyhalothin, permethrin, es-fenvalerate, tefluthrin or tralomethrin), and liquid fipronil or spinosad. are designed for the homeowner and are widely available in retail stores, garden centers and farm and ranch supply stores (Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, CoOp, Tractor Supply, etc.). They are sold in small containers with enough material to cover a home yard. These ingredients vary in how fast they kill ants and how long they persist in the environment. Natural pyrethrins or synthetic pyrethroid ingredients kill ants in minutes. Acephate and carbaryl take a day or so, while granular fipronil may take 4-6 weeks to eliminate colonies. Hot water, pyrethrins, d-limonene treatments have little or no lasting effect. Carbaryl and acephate break down in a matter of days to weeks, while pyrethroids can persist for weeks to months, and fipronil can persist for months to a year.

A contact insecticide product is applied to the lawn and landscape surface. It is more expensive that other approaches but may provide better control in smaller areas because ants moving into treated areas are eliminated as long as the chemical is active. Apply a contact insecticide with long residual activity (i.e., fipronil or a pyrethroid such as bifenthrin, cypermethrin, lambdacyhalothrin or permethrin) to turfgrass as directed (generally every 4 to 8 weeks for most products or once per year using a granular fipronil product). Liquid or granular products (best applied using a push-type fertilizer spreader and usually watered in after application) that can be evenly applied to an area are appropriate for this use. With most products, the initial surface treatment may not eliminate ants located deep in mounds, but routine re-application will eventually eliminate most colonies. Faster-acting contact insecticides like pyrethroid insecticides (listed above) eliminate surface activity of ants for months, but may not initially eliminate colonies nesting deeper in the soil.

Granular fipronil products are slower-acting, but they are longer-lasting and only one treatment is permitted per year. Fipronil, a non-repellent contact insecticide that can be used with bait products, will eliminate ant colonies within 4 to 10 weeks of treatment, even those nesting well beneath the surface. However, ants migrating into treated areas may take more than a week to be eliminated.


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 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 Cooperative Extension, 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.

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