Fire Ants Are Here

— Written By
There have been multiple reports of fire ants in Alexander County in the southern and eastern portion of the counties. Fire ants are native of southern Brazil. Not only are the mounds unsightly, but the stings from a disturbed fire ant mound are painful. Until recently, Alexander County was one of the few counties considered to be fire ant-free. The majority of North Carolina counties are quarantined for fire ants. Thus, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulates the movement of certain items that might carry ant infestations to other non-infested parts of the state and country.
Fire ant mound
Fire ants prefer oily, greasy food. Homeowners can prevent fire ants from looking for food on their property by keeping trash emptied regularly. There are two basic approaches to chemical fire ant control:  broadcast over a wide area infested with fire ants or individual mound control. Either way, treatment is recommended to prevent new mounds and an increase in the population of fire ants. Individual mounds may be treated with a liquid or dust insecticide formulation or with an insecticidal bait. Liquid treatments may be done by rodding the chemical deep into the mound or by drenching the mound. To be effective, the drench must penetrate throughout the mound and contact most of the fire ants in the colony. Ants coming into contact with the drench die soon after. Drenches are the preferred treatment when the risk of human contact with fire ants is high and the fire ant infestation must be eliminated immediately because of the health risks of someone getting stung. High-risk areas include home lawns, school and child care properties, parks, and other areas frequented by the public. Best control results are usually obtained in spring and fall when temperatures are between 70 and 85°F. Control with mound drenches can be more difficult during very hot summer months because the ants often remain deep within their mounds and are hard to reach with liquid insecticides. In the summer, drenches are best done in the morning or evening.
Contact the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Alexander County Center at 632-4451 for information on fire ant insecticides appropriate for use by the general public and by public health and pest management professionals. Following label directions, pour the correct amount of water into a bucket or sprinkler can. Add the prescribed amount of insecticide, mix well (without splashing), then gently pour the diluted insecticide over the surface of the mound. Apply the drench at a rate of approximately 1 gallon per 6 inches of mound diameter. At this rate, for example, a mound measuring 12 inches across would receive 2 gallons of insecticide drench. The amount of drench applied is more important than the concentration of insecticide in the drench. Thoroughly wet the ground to a distance of about 2 feet around the mound. Sometimes the drench does not kill all of the ants in the colony and the surviving ants will construct small mounds within 10 to 15 feet of the parent colony. Several days after the application, search the area around the treated colony for new mounds and drench them as well.

If you think you have fire ants or need treatment recommendations, contact us. The bites or stings are very painful and mounds can contain thousands of ants. When the mounds are disturbed, the ants come pouring out to attack whatever disturbed them.