And while I'm here posting: what are the most successful (chemical and/or
organic) ways of treating the small red ant? Not sure if it's a fire ant but the
bite sure hurts.
Amdro. Not to be used in your veggie garden.
I use Amdro. They are granules(bait) that you spread around and the ants will take them where others will feed on them. It will wipe out the colony. It is sold at most stores.
Thanks for the advice. Someone not on this forum recommended a mix
of sugar and borax around the mounds and I'm also experimenting to see
if that works.
Let us know your results. What's the mix ratio?
They won't go through baby powder. Lavender baby powder is even better. It actually works.
The powder works and so does Diametous Earth (sold at the garden center or swimming pool area)
Do not use the DE from the swimming pool section, only buy the stuff from the nursery to use in your gardens.
I can help :-) I'm a myrmecologist!
Can you take a picture of them?
It sounds horrible, but one way to see if it is a fire ant: pick one up and place it on the back of your hand. Fire ants typically will bite (with their mouthparts) and then sting (with their rear end). The sting is what hurts. You can also take an ant, squish it (!!) and smell... if it smells like blue cheese it is NOT a fire ant.
Other small red ants in this area tend to be a nuisance, but are not harmful. I just let them be.
Please remember that Boric acid is nasty, and should be handled with care, especially children or pregnant women (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/894.html)
In garden areas not used for food production, I second the recommendation of using Amdro. It has a relatively short lifespan and degrades fairly quickly. You will have more success if you can track down the location of the nest (follow a trail of ants if you can).
If you know where the nest is, one super eco technique is BOILING WATER. Take a piece of pvc pipe (1-3inches diameter, 6+ inches long). Quickly hammer into the center of the mound. Heat up hot water and pour into the pipe. You may have to repeat a few times, but the same goes for Amdro.
DE sounds great, but doesn't really make a huge difference for ants. In the world of ants, if the queen is still alive, so is the colony. DE only kills a few foraging workers. Kill the queen with Amdro or boiling water!!
Best of luck!!