With warmer weather making its presence known, now is the time to tackle fire ant problems. Here are some tips for handling the persistent pests.
• The most effective and most ecologically sound way to get rid of fire ants is to use a bait product containing the active ingredients hydramethylnon, methoprene or spinosad.
• Buy the smallest bag of bait or no more than you will need this summer. Due to the soybean oil coating, the bait can go rancid after one season. Bait stored for more than a year or kept near gasoline or fertilizer may not be as effective.
• Apply the bait on a warm, sunny afternoon. Baits should never be applied to wet soil or watered into grass. This will ruin the smell and taste of the bait.
• Cigarette smokers or anyone who has handled gasoline or fertilizer should wear gloves when applying bait because even subtle changes in the bait’s odor can deter ants.
• Avoid disturbing the ants before treating their beds with bait. This distracts them from their primary goal of foraging for food.
• If a mound is still active 10 days after application, put down a second application of bait.