Who can forget Antie from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids? The lovable ant that helped a group of miniature adolescents cross the treacherous terrain in their backyard, and ultimately gave his life in their defense. Unfortunately, for most, we are unable to have this experience when it comes to fire ants. In reality, they are a common pest that can be found in many lawns. They build unsightly mounds, but even worse they sting when they become defensive. Once provoked, whether intentional or not, these ants will swarm invaders by grabbing hold with a bite and delivering a venomous sting from their abdomen. The welts left behind can be very painful for people and animals, and for those who are sensitive or allergic to their venom, health hazards can ensue requiring emergency medical attention.
So let’s discuss when and how fire ants should be controlled. When soil surface temperatures are above 60° the foraging ants will be drawn out of the mound looking for food. Although you can spot them throughout the warmer months, spring and fall are periods of peak activity due to temperatures not getting too hot. During these seasons, effective control can be achieved by applying a bait throughout the lawn or approximately four feet around the mounds. Baits are great simply because the ants will see this as food, bring it back to the mound, and the entire colony will be affected including the queen. While using baits, do NOT place the particles directly on the mound as they will not be looking for “food” there. Also, be sure to NOT disturb the mound. Remember, they will be defensive with disturbances and will not be looking to gather food.
Over the next couple of weeks, the colony will decline and the mound will go dormant. At this point, it is safe to destroy the mound. If ants are still active, a mound drench with the proper insecticide can be applied. We consider this as a last resort effort since this form of treatment may to not kill the entire colony and allow the queen to repopulate.
The fight does not stop there. Regular maintenance of your lawn and bed spaces is just as important as using baits and other insecticide options. Weekly mowing not only helps create a more dense and healthy lawn but will also deter fire ants from nesting. They tend not to like lawn mowers destroying the mounds on a regular basis. Also, keep bed spaces or natural areas covered with the proper amount of ground cover. Having exposed dirt is a welcome sign and the ants will not hesitate to make this their new home. Take notice in this picture of the exposed dirt and shaggy grass. Follow these simple steps or contact our team for more information on our Fire Ant Control Program. Sorry Antie, you’ll have to find another group of children to help along, a Nature’s Turf lawn is too well kept for you.