Fire Ant Control

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The red imported fire ant continues to spread across the United States and has called many lawns, yards, pastures, and field home here in Anson County. These ants can interfere with many agricultural areas. Impacts can include animal injury equipment damage, hay production, veterinary costs, forage degradation, electrical equipment damage, infested feed, and reduced feeding. Eradication is not practical at this time, but there are things we can do to manage infestations.

Baits are highly recommended because they often have the least effect on species other than fire ants. The baits come in a granular form. There are two basic approaches to applying this granular, one is applied directly to individual mounds and the other is broadcasted over a wide area that is heavily infested with fire ants. Some are not to be used in pastures with livestock other than horse; this is because horses are not used for human consumption. The label is the law. Always read the label and follow restrictions and directions for the intended use.

Below are tips for using granular baits:

  • Use fresh bait. A part of the granular baits are food particles that attract the ants to the bait. Old bait will not attract ants to feed on it.
  • Ants must be actively foraging for baits to be successful. You can gauge their activity by placing pieces of hot dogs or potato chips in area of suspected ant mounds. If they are receptive to food, this would be a good time to put bait out.
  • Apply the bait according to the label. Sprinkle the bait around the mound as opposed to on top of the mound because ants don’t actually come out of the top, they mainly use tunnels that have openings a foot or more around the mound. It is best to apply bait early in the evening.
  • Be aware of rainfall. Moisture can lead to the bait becoming rancid and less attractive to the ants. Many labels recommend that bait not be put out less than 6 hours after a rain event.

For a list of pesticides for use in pastures contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension agent.