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Fall is an ideal time for fire ant control

fire ant hill

Fall is right around the corner, and while many of us in South Alabama are looking forward to cheering on our favorite football team, this time of year also provides a great opportunity to tackle a problem we know all too well – the imported red fire ant.

Fall is an ideal time to treat your lawn, pasture, or hayfield with an effective control method, fire ant bait.

Baits work differently than individual mound treatments. Many individual mound treatment products are comprised of a contact insecticide and are often times “watered in” to activate the insecticide and eliminate the ants of an individual mound. Baits use a different mode of action, in that the bait is spread over an area while fire ants are looking for food, or foraging. Fire ants usually forage during the cooler parts of the day, and foraging activity can be determined by simply putting out a few potato chips or hot dog pieces and observe ant activity on around these food items.

Baits need to be applied when there is no chance of rain in 24 hours, or no scheduled irrigation in 24 hours. Baits do not work when wet, old, or stale as the soybean oil carrier can become soggy or rancid.

The bait is gathered by these foraging fire ants and returned to the colony or mound, where it is digested and shared throughout the colony.  While baits do not work as fast as contact insecticides, control can last longer and into the Spring.

Economically, baits can be a viable choice if you have numerous colonies on your property. Conversely, if you only have a few hills, individual mound treatments may be more cost effective.

If you are interested in applying a bait treatment over a large area, the Geneva County Extension office now offers a 25lb capacity Herd Seeder Bait Spreader for use, free of charge.

For more information about fire ants, control materials, or management strategies, contact your local county extension office, or visit our website www.aces.edu