pavement ant control
Fire ant control is mostly a matter of patience and persistence, not a "one shot deal." If you live in the South or Southwest, you're probably going to come in contact with fire ants, and probably sooner rather than later. Even if you get rid of them once, they're likely reappear within a year.
Usually, fire ants show up in your yard. But they will also invade a home under certain circumstances. Fire ant control is important because fire ants are dangerous to people and pets.
Controlling fire ants is also an economic necessity. The State of Texas alone estimates that fire ants have an economic impact that exceeds one billion dollars annually. These costs come from livestock losses, prevention efforts, and medical care for both people and animals who have been attacked.
No one method is completely effective, but some come close. No fire ant control method is permanent. Generally speaking, there are two ways to approach fire ant control.
Broadcast bait method
One is called the broadcast bait method. It usually takes anything from days to weeks to work, but it's 80-90 percent effective. There are several commercial bait products available, of which Amdro® is probably the best known. Amdro® is a form of ant poison.
You spread or "broadcast" Amdro® in the area around the mound. The ants take the bait back inside the mound, where it is eventually eaten by the queen. The queen dies. And when the queen dies, the mound dies.
Amdro® is considered to be an effective, short term way to control fire ants using the broadcast bait method. For longer term control, perhaps up to a year, there are two other popular products called Logic® and Award®.
Baits must be applied properly, and it's extremely important to follow product directions. If you put it down at the wrong time of day, or don't use the recommended amounts (approximately 1 to 1.5 pounds per acre), you may end up wasting your time and money.
The best times to apply broadcast bait products are 1) mid-morning after the dew has evaporated, or 2) late afternoon on hot days when the air begins to cool.
The "two step" method
When you have an area that's heavily infested, the "two step" fire ant control method is more appropriate. Here's how it works.
Step 1 involves applying a broadcast bait product throughout the infested area, and waiting several days to a week.
Step 2 involves treating individual mounds with a dust, granule, bait or drench insecticide.
The best time of the year for fighting fire ants is from late summer through early fall. This will help eliminate ants during the winter. Treating individual mounds during the hot, dry summer tends to be ineffective because ants are less active.
Baits can still work, however, if you have an active mound. It is best to put the bait out in the late afternoon or evening because ants are likely to come out at night to forage.
Fire ant control in the home
Sometimes fire ants nest indoors, where control becomes even more critical for a lot of obvious reasons. When this happens, you can use a number of baits for workers to collect and take back to the queen. Make sure these products are labeled for indoor use.
Contact insecticides can be helpful in killing groups of ants, or interrupting ant trails. But contact insecticides do little to kill the whole colony because they don't usually touch the queen.
They may, in fact, cause the ants to divide into more than one colony. Again, make sure any product you use is labeled for indoors, and also be sure to keep it away from children and pets.