Which fire ant method is best for you?

Steve Borel, LSU AgCenter

The Two step method: The two steps involve: 1. Broadcasting a bait product.  2. Treating nuisance mounds with a faster acting individual mound treatment.

Step 1: Once or twice per year, broadcast a bait formulated insecticide or use an outdoor bait station product as directed on the label. Step 2: Wait several days or more after applying the bait, and then treat nuisance ant colonies using an individual mound treatment method. This method should provide ant suppression for two-to-six months depending on environmental conditions.

Individual mound treatment: This approach is best used in small areas. This program selectively controls fire ants, but rapid re-invasion should be anticipated. It generally requires more labor and monitoring than other programs, and is not suggested for heavily infested areas. Treat undesirable fire ant mounds using an individual mound treatment. Products are applied as dusts, granules, and granules drenched with water. Continue treating undesirable mounds that appear, as needed.

The ant elimination method: This program eliminates nearly all ant species in treated areas. Its effects are more rapid than those of other programs, and it minimizes re-invasion of treated areas as long as the contact insecticide remains effective. However, it is more expensive, uses more insecticide, and has greater environmental impact. This approach is frequently used by commercial applicators.

Step 1: Broadcast a bait-formulated insecticide in areas where there are many mounds or individually treat fire ant mounds. Wait two-to-three days after applying a bait before conducting the next step.

Step 2: Apply a contact insecticide to turfgrass every four-to-eight weeks, or when ant activity is detected. Liquid or granular products that can be evenly applied to an area are appropriate for this treatment.

Whichever method you choose will control fire ants. It will work best if you can get your neighbors, or better yet your entire subdivision to treat at the same time. The more treated area you have the slower the re-infestation will take place. Remember we are not eliminating the ants we are simply controlling the ones that we can.

For a list of baits and insecticides recommended by LSU you can contact the County Agents Office in Port Allen at 336-2416 or Plaquemine at 687-5155.