Let 'em Eat Bait! Fire Ant Control Program(Best Done from April through September)
Fire ants. Just saying the name can evoke strong emotions in many people. As much as we may hate it, fire ants are a permanent part of the Texas landscape.
Fortunately, there is a proven method to keep the pesky insects under control using products that are low in toxicity. The Two-step Method designed by the Texas Cooperative Extension Service is a simple approach that can effectively control fire ants in heavily infested areas when done once or twice a year. This method is most effective when neighbors treat at the same time. So get with your neighbors and have a block party to spread a fire ant bait product at the same time. Just remember, the baits need to stay dry to be effective, so if it is raining or rain is forecast in the next 24 hours, reschedule your block party.
It's important to use environmentally responsible methods because trace amounts of pesticides, especially diazinon and malathion, in the wastewater can cause the city to fail monthly tests it must conduct for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Continued failures could mean higher wastewater rates because of fines or additions to the wastewater plant. In addition, the city must monitor the level of diazinon in creeks. Also, Dursban® in storm water run off has caused fish kills in Fort Worth.
The Two-Step Method (Information provided by the Texas Cooperative Extension Service)
Step 1: Broadcast A Bait
Spread a fire ant bait product over the entire yard.
Use a hand-held seeder set at the smallest opening size.
Walk over your yard at a normal pace, cranking the seeder handle as you go.
Note: Baits work slowly. It could take one week to 10 weeks, depending on the product, to provide maximum control.
Advantages: Baits are low in toxicity, they treat mounds not yet visible above ground, treat large areas efficiently, offer long-term control, baits are shared with others making them more likely to reach the queen ant and they are inexpensive. Some examples include, Amdro®, Combat® Outdoor Ant Killing Granules, Logic® and Raid® Fire Ant Killer Outdoor Granules.
Step 2: Treat Individual Mounds
Choose either a dust, liquid, granular, injectable or non-chemical treatment.
Apply preferably three to five days after applying a bait, but can be done sooner.
Treat individual problem mounds with an approved mound drench, granule or dust insecticide.
Treat only mounds that are causing an immediate problem, such as those against a building foundation, near electrical equipment or in a play area.
Advantages of Mound Treatments
Dusts: Needs no water and is fast acting. An example would be Orthene®.
Liquid Drenches: Drenches require 1-2 gallons of water per mound, leave little surface residue after application and are relatively fast acting. Examples are Organic Plus®, Orthene®, Permethrin, Rotenone and Pine oil suspensions.
Granular Treatments: They require no mixing, leave little surface residue after application and are relatively fast acting. An example would be Velocity®.
Injectables: These are fast acting and leave little residue after application. Examples are Pyrethrins.
Non-chemical: Using non-chemical methods protect the environment and help keep water rates low. This might include boiling water applied to mounds. Please use care and note that boiling water will kill any grass it contacts.
Never apply baits or individual mound treatments if it is raining or if rain is forecast in the next 24 hours.
Always wear the protective equipment recommended by product's label directions.
Do not use more than the amount indicated by the label directions.
Follow the label directions for disposing of any leftover product or empty containers.
Never pour pesticides down any house drain, curb inlet or sewer opening.
Products listed are for example purposes only and not as an endorsement.