In some parts of the country, namely the South, nothing starts a conversation and creates camaraderie among strangers faster than the topic of fire ants -- and how to get rid of them.
That’s because these tiny (up to ¼-inch) red or black ants are not only a yard and garden nuisance, but they’re also fierce protectors and aggressive attackers. If fire ants sense their nest is in trouble, they’ll likely just move the nest to another part of the yard. Worse, if the nest is disturbed in any way, they’ll attack with a painful sting that can cause welts or even an allergic reaction.
Originally from South America, fire ants were accidentally introduced to the United States by shipping in the early 20th century. This aggressive species has since made its way through the Southern states all the way to the Pacific coast.
Warm weather-loving pests, they are most active when outdoor temps range from 65ºF to 90ºF. Their large ground nests, or mounds, can reach up to two feet tall. Look for nests in lawns, gardens, parks, playgrounds, and pastures, although extreme drought or rain may drive fire ants indoors.
How to Win Back Your Yard: Fire Ant 2-Step Method
When it comes to dealing with fire ants, the best way to get rid of them is to take a two-pronged approach that includes treating both the mound and the yard when fire ants are most active.
1. Kill the queen and her colony by applying a dust or granular product like Ortho® Orthene® Fire Ant Killer1 to the mound, following package directions. Use wherever and whenever you see a mound of any size.*
2. Apply a broadcast treatment like Ortho® Fire Ant Killer Broadcast Granules over the entire lawn. This will help kill any fire ants hiding in the grass, plus continue to control new fire ant mounds.
* Another option for destroying the mound is to surround it with Ortho® Fire Ant Killer Mound Bait.