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How to Kill Fire Ants

Fire Ants

Fire Ants are a nuisance for property owners in the United States, and have been since they were introduced via the Port of Mobile in the 1930s. Sadly, eliminating the fire ant problem is not realistic. While we may never eradicate them from the United States, here are some great resources for how to eradicate them from your property.

Know Your Enemy: Is it even a fire ant?

Fire ants in the United States are easily distinguishable from other ant species based on two features:

  • They have a copper-brown head and thorax
  • They have a darker brown abdomen

More Fire Ant Photos

How to Kill Fire Ants

There are two ways to kill fire ants: bait or on-contact killer. Baits tend to work better but take longer. On-contact killer, as the name implies, kills any ant with which it comes into contact. 

If you are on a budget, you can choose one or the other. But if you want immediate and long-lasting results, you can use both! 

The “Texas Two-Step” Method

EffectivenessVery ☠️
SpeedModerate
CostHighest 💵

This method involves using both bait and on-contact killer.

Step 1: Spread bait over the entire area where you want to remove and/or prevent fire ants from establishing colonies. The bait will last several months depending upon the type you use. 

Step 2: Use on-contact killer on the established mounds

Dusting the on-contact killer on active mounds eliminates fire ants from those mounds within days. If you only use on-contact killers, the surviving ants can move several feet away from the original mound to establish a new one. However, if you've properly used bait, they can never find a safe place to establish a new mound. That's the power of the Texas Two-Step!

The Bait Only Method

EffectivenessVery ☠️
SpeedSlowest
CostModerate 💵

Using bait is just as effective as the Two-Step method listed above, but is less costly because you forgo having to buy the drench. However, you'll have to wait longer for the bait to work its way throughout the colony before the ant bed disappears.

The Drench Only Method

EffectivenessModerate ☠️
SpeedFast
CostModerate 💵

Using on-contact killer will immediately improve your ant infestation problem. But it likely won't solve it completely. Use this method if you need to temporarily remove ant mounds quickly.

Scalding Hot Water Method

EffectivenessLow
SpeedFast
CostPennies

This is, by far, the cheapest way to fight back against a fire ant infestation. It's also the least effective and probably the most dangerous!

All you do is get a large pot of water to a roiling boil, then drench the ant mound with it. The trick is to quickly get the water on the mound so it doesn't have time to cool. 

Tips For Treating Fire Ants

  1. Wait until it is warm to treat fire ant mounds. They tend to burrow deep into the ground during periods of cool weather.
  2. Sprinkle fire ant killer around the mound. Tunnels can exist up to a few feet away from the visible mound.
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