“By satisfactory I don’t mean zero ants. I mean probably 80%, 90% reduction, so rather than you having to go out every weekend when you mow the lawn and doctor fire ant mounds, you’re taking care of the whole problem, even the ones you don’t see that may be nesting deep in the ground during dry periods.”
To find out if ants are foraging you can drop some food on the ground and see if it attracts them.
“Or put a little pile of the bait that you’re going to use and if the ants are all over it, it’s ant killing time. For the summertime, the best time to apply baits is late afternoon, evening, and that way you can get the material out when the grass is dry and it’s still light for you.”
Entomologist Bart Drees says that in urban environments neighbors who treat at the same time get better results.
“We now have the data to show the larger the treatment block is, the larger the tract of land you use in your treatment program, the better control you get, and the longer it lasts.”
Rural landowners should treat around homesteads, barns, and pens, where human traffic is heaviest.
“The fire ants pick that bait up in a matter of hours, even before native ants can get to it. The dose in a toxicity level basis that would ever be a threat to animals, people, or wildlife, is too low for that to occur.”
There are some exciting biological controls on the horizon.
“These flies are native to South America. They are very specific and stay with attacking red imported fire ants which is a good thing because they don’t go off and attack other native ant species or other organisms.”
Dr. Drees says in our part of the country the best you can hope for is to manage your ant problem. Like the feral hog, fire ants are here to stay. I’m Joe Brown, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From the Ground Up.
For more information about fire ants, log on to fireant.tamu.edu