Fire Ant Problem

alabama_jan(Zn8AL)May 30, 2004

Hi...I live in Alabama and am new to the forum. Like most people who live in the Southeast, I WAS plagued with fire ants. I recently discovered Eliminator (inexpensive and comes from Walmart) that does wonderful things for fire ants. Also Spectracide Bug Off helps, too. This is the first time I have worked in my yard in years and not been eaten up with fire ants.

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I've found Eliminator to be the very best...and it doesn't take much it. Someone told me to wait until 10 a.m. or so, whack the mound with a hoe to get 'em mad, then put the poison on. Sure works for me. They're gone within hours.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2004 at 12:07AM
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live_oak_lady(Zone 9)

I am not familiar with Elimator. Does it destroy them or move them on to another location? I am tired of doing the Fire Ant Dance. Once they get on your feet and between your toes you've got to get rhythm.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2004 at 11:48AM
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Bluebonnet_PlantFarm(z7 TX)

Fire ants,if we could only make friends with those meanies; much money could be saved. Pretty much any fire ant killer i have bought from a major store has worked eventually some quicker than others, the best I have come across so far is Orrthene its a powder that smells like rotten eggs. It is some pretty serious stuff so use with gloves and do not inhale directly trust me you would smell a mile away; but i sprinkle maybe a tblspoon or more on the mound and water it in, if i remember it works either way, I have been told it works faster if you water it in but have no exsperince in one being faster I do know both ways are quick and very effective. I am trying to find an organic remeady for those meanies but have only found rumors of a concentrate vinegar that kills fire ants and kills weeds but have no experience with it. I am maybe 3 weeks from having Habenero peppers to make pepper oil i read about and will post my findings after i expermient with it.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 12:14PM
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Orthene has worked the fastest for me. I was especially concerned because I had a 3 year old boy with a passion for hitting the mounds with sticks. I never watered it in and they would be gone in 24 hours.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 7:31PM
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Gone means almost nothing with fire ants. They will move to a new nest completely underground in a few hours, leaving the appearance that they are dead.

Over 'N Out is without a doubt the best pesticide for controlling fire ants to come down the pipe in the last decade. If applied properly, they guarantee that you will not have fire ant problems during the season, or you money back. My experience is that they will pay out to very few customers. But, and there always is a but, it's not cheap.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2004 at 11:29AM
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BarbC(8 coastal SC)

They have been releasing some kind of flies here that supposedly kill fire ants - wouldn't it be great if this actually worked? In theory, the fly stings the ant, imbeds its larva inside the ant during the sting. The larva then bores up into the ant's head and kills it, decapitating it, then hatches into a new fly to do the same all over again. I say bredd more of these things. I think they released something like about 50,000 of them.

Meanwhile, if you find something that ACTUALLY works, let me know. I'll be darned if I have found ANYTHING that actually kills them and doesn't just move them into the neighbor's yard. Once the neighbor treats them, then they move back to my yard. Its the ultimate game tug of war.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2004 at 4:04AM
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thecaretaker(z7b S. Cobb,GA)

Only thing that's worked for me is being extraordinarily careful with the watering in.

If I set my sprayer to mist and take the time to soak the poisoned hill with this fine cloud, it has a pretty good chance of working.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2004 at 5:59AM
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We got rid of our fire ants about six years ago and have not had a single one since then on our 18 acres, nor has my sister who lives next door to us on 8 acres. I cannot remember the name of it, it was a commercial product that you put our in the spring and fall and makes the fireants sterile so they can't reproduce. It was invented and tested by the University of Florida and when I worked for a Navy contractor we tested it on the Navy base and found that it really worked. Here's the down side though. Since we got rid of the fire ants, another type of ant has moved in that absolutely nothing works on. They don't make mounds, they make holes at the base of the oak trees, and love to make nests in my flower pots, under every rock in my yard, behind the baseboards in my house, in the attic. They are horrible. They rarely bite you, but they get in your food. They will not eat bait and unless you find their nest, you can't poison them. I took a sample to a pesticide store and they said they were called crazy ants. I almost wish I had fire ants again.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2004 at 9:59PM
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That's really interesting about your "crazy" ants. I guess the fire ants were it's natural predator?

Kind of makes me think what will happen if Barb's flies she mentioned a few posts up are successful. Will we need to introduce a new type of ant to get rid of all the flies?

Ugh...the pest cycle.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2004 at 11:18PM
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WannaBGardener(8b & 4a)

good question gklee.Ususally that imported natural eradicator thingie, turns into another "kudzo". Lets hope the flies dont insert the "egg" when it bites us.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2004 at 8:33AM
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Some products that use IGRs (insect growth regulators) are Award & Logic. They tend to be slow acting (months). I generally use Amdro or Maxforce ant bait (fine granules) and get good results in 3 days to 3 weeks.

John Warner, PhD qualified entomologist
University of Florida
Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, Ant Lab
3205 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314

    Bookmark   August 1, 2004 at 10:19PM
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dafdil(east tx)

Have you tried putting grits (dry) on the hill?
Kills them in that spot (or they move to another).
But they don't come back to that particular spot, which helps when you find a hill close to your house or where children play.
One of the best things - it's cheap!
I know this sounds strange, but give it a try.
Works for me

    Bookmark   August 2, 2004 at 8:06PM
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Catch an armadillo and bring it to your property. They dig up the bed and eat all the larva. Course you then have to fill up the hole. LOL
A few years ago while turkey hunting, I saw movement alongside the logging road where I was walking. As I got closer I found an armadillo franitcaly digging into a fire ant hill. He stayed busy till I got within about six feet before he ran off. There were larva scattered around and adult ants going crazy. I chuckled as I visualized them trying to sting through that armor. Since then I have seen empty holes where they have dug up the beds. Not many fire ants left on our hunting property now.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 10:48AM
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I had my grandmother help me with my first vegetable garden. When we started making our rows and putting down seeds we noticed Fire Ants everywhere in the area we had plowed. The ants started crawling all over the seeds. We did not know what to do. My grandmother told me to sprinkle a little of the Ortho Ant Killer Powder/dust in the rows. Then after we did it she got to thinking maybe we shouldn't have done that. Do you think that it will poison the vegetables since they were still seeds when we applied?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 3:55PM
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sunimrette(7b / NC)

I seriously doubt that there will be any harm to your vegetables. Even if the chemicals hang around in the soil and are absorbed by the growing plant and end up in the fruit (and considering how much water is gonna wash through you soil between now and then, the chance is slim), most ant killer formulas are for anthropods and thus should not harmful to people or pets in small dosages. The only thing that I would be careful about is if you are growing things intended for a butterfly garden, as they are insects and may be harmed by residual chemical.

Hope this helps!


    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 3:57PM
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grits are great for feeding ants (i.e., if you want to have more ants)!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 11:50AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Rachel, you are dangerously incorrect in your assessment of most fire ant killers. Most of the formulations are highly hazardous to mammals, birds, fish, reptiles,and other members of the animal kingdom.

On another note, I'd like to comment on Eliminator as a fire ant bait. The active ingredient in this product is spinosad, and has proved to be very effective in getting rid of fire ant mounds. It is also approved for use in certified organic gardens, including those used for food crops.

When using a bait, it's important that you do NOT disturb the mound. Your goal is to entice these darned critters into taking the baited product into the depths of their nest and sharing it with all, including the queen.

And, of course, we all ought to know by now that grits don't kill fire ants. Right? RIGHT!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 3:08PM
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I bought Spinosad, but it attaches to my hose and so when I water with it - it disturbs the mounds.

How else could you use Spinosad and not disturb the mounds? I'd love to continue using it (hopefully it works) because it is certified for use in organic gardens. Thanks

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 6:41PM
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Below is a link to my website page on fire ant cures. It starts out with the fallacies like the one about them eating grits and swelling up and dying BUT it ends with an amazingly simple methot that is environmentally safe and cheaper than chemicals. My brother came up with this cure and Walter Reeves announced it on his gardening radio show. He did not endorse it, he just asked people to try it and let him know how it worked for them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fire Ant Cures

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 12:04AM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Do fire ants live longer than one season?

I've controlled several types of ants with insecticides, and have applied it as a 2-gallon drench for each mound. Seems to be quick and very effective with most kinds of water-mixed insecticides.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 12:35PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

carrie, you've purchased a formulation that isn't a bait. I'm not sure at all how your spinosad-laced product will work for ants, but I doubt that it will do much good. ;-( A bait is a granulated product that is taken down into the nest as a food source. The ants have to eat it to be affected.

A fire ant NEST can be viable for many years. The male ants live until they mate or are killed off by the females; the female workers typically survive from one to several months, depending upon their role and size. Queens generally live over 5 years, and constantly supply the colony with new eggs.

I'm glad to see that so many people have become interested in finding out about and using non-chemical and maybe non-traditional methods for controlling these nasty pests. I have a large nest in one of my perennial gardens, and I'm tempted to try the club soda treatment....though I wonder if it will be effective in our clayey soil.

Hmmm, I wonder how many stings I'll get when experimenting, lol!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 2:13PM
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aynet(8b Louisiana)

Talstar (brand name) is a granular pest controller sold in large sacks at local hardware stores and DIY pest control places. It's easily spread with a yard spreader and is safe for use around your pets. That's important because it not only controls fire ants, but ticks and fleas as well -- for up to 6 months. We've been using it for several years and it works great! We apply it twice a year (spring & fall) to the entire property. We still use a flea treatment for our dogs that live outside (just to be safe), but basically they have NONE.
Another, totally natural and safe method is to use diatomaceous earth, totally non-toxic and can be used around pets, kids and food sources -- in and out of the house. It's kind of messy, but it works like tiny pieces of glass that gets inside the exo-skeleton of insects and kills them. It won't get rid of the fire ants, but it will make them move away. YOu can also use it as a topical treatment on your pets. It's made from the diome skeletons in the muck at the bottom of the sea. YOu can eat it and it won't hurt you, but it doesn't taste good.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 3:01PM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Got a question about this Talstar/Bifen I/T (generic). It's supposed to be safe for kids and pets and plants, when it's NOT wet. Does this mean that when it rains it will be dangerous or just when first applied and watered in (referring to the liquid application)?

Also, what will it do to the microherd (microbes) in the soil? Is it also not harmful to them too. or will it wipe them out along with the other insects? I'd really like this product to be useable in my surroundings if it's as good as everyone says it is.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 8:53AM
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aynet(8b Louisiana)

I've never experienced any noticable affect on my soil or in my garden or lawn after using the Talstar. As far as I know, it doesn't hurt after it's wet either. You know how dogs can be... went into their water dish accidentally when applying once. Of course, they immediately start drinking it before we can get them away from it. They didn't die or suffer any adverse affects.
BTW -- the granular works far better than the mix up and spray kind. I never water it in-- just apply it and leave it. (But we have regular rain.) Within a week-- no fire ants!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 10:59AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Good golly! The active ingredient (bifenthrin) is very toxic and quite dangerous, when not used properly. Chemicals like this can have long term and hidden consequences. Don't expect to keel over immediately upon exposure!

It has been classified as a possible carcinogen, an endocrine system disruptor, and reproductive toxin. It can accumulate in the fatty tissues of animals. The increased use of these synthetic pyrethoids have resulted in vetrinary clinics seeing more and more cats and dogs (especially cats who clean themselves) for acute and chronic symptoms.

It is even MORE dangerous to cold blooded animals, making it a serious problem for birds, reptiles, fish, etc. It's considered extremely toxic to bees.

There's a great deal of information about all pesticides on the internet. It's a good idea to do plenty of research about a product before using it, so that we can all be safe and healthy.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 3:09PM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Not trying to be a butt here rhizo_1, but if it's so toxic (and I rather take your word on it than the gubments), why hasn't anything been done to at least prohibit unauthorized used of the product and others like it to only experienced applicators, etc? I don't have to buy this product on the blackmarket...all I have to do is walk into any big box store and pick up any Ortho Home Defense container with this active ingredient bifenthrin.

And, good luck getting people to scour the internet for cautions on these products when you can't even get them to read the label on the back of food containers.

Here is a link that might be useful: I did find this though....

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 5:59AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Your comments are well founded! I've long worried that certain chemicals are so readily available for anyone to use. It would be different if EVERYone carefully read the labels and followed directions. You're soooo right....that's not about to happen, lol!

I'd like for everyone to understand the potential dangers of using these common pesticides so that all of the proper precautions can be taken. We get bombarded by these chemicals whereever we go; we ought to at least be informed about what we bring into our own homes and yards.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 3:40PM
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I've had *very* good luck with 1 oz of orange oil in a gallon of water.

Mix it thoroughly & pour it gently over the undisturbed mound, working inward from the outer edge.
(disturbing the mound gives the workers time to carry off eggs to start a new mound).

I've also dumped a lot of coffee grounds (from Starbucks) onto the mounds with good results.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 8:41AM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Where do you find orange oil? I've been able to find products with orange oil in them...but no orange oil.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 11:44AM
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You can usually find it in organic nurseries.

At one time, Home Depot & Lowe's both carried orange oil, but I don't know if they still do;
you might call before you put yourself through the ordeal of parking & hiking through the store!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 5:55PM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Thanks for the input.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 6:27AM
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roseyp8255(z8 - SC AL)

i think i want to try the club soda!

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 10:36PM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Save yourself the time. Read yesterday that remedy is among the others that do nothing to control the ants. Google fire ant control and lots of good info comes up.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 1:09PM
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mystkitty(8 LA)

So, is there anything I can use that will actually kill these invasive mini-monsters and will not harm my kitties? I'm in Alexandria.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 11:06PM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Here's a good link with everything you always wante to know about them and how to control, etc. Also has chemical effects. Amdro is generally a good bait, and some say boiling water works good.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fire Ant link

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 6:28AM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Here's another article link that might help.

Here is a link that might be useful: another linky

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 6:35AM
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roseyp8255(z8 - SC AL)

thanks for the links jim!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 11:19PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I second the motion for Over N Out. We have used it for five years now. We apply it, according to package directions, in the early spring and will literally not see a single fireant until late fall. They always move back in during the winter. This early spring, we had mounds all over the place. We applied the Over n Out and within a week there was not a single one left. I got sick to death of getting eaten up every blessed time I was working in my gardens. This is the one and only product I have ever used that worked. It's not cheap, but it truly does work.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 1:47PM
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try Advion or Extinguish Plus (it has an insect growth regulator)

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 9:38AM
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