Pascual Hernandez
Pascual Hernandez

September rains brought us much-needed soil moisture. They also increased fire ant activity. If you have that problem, time is running out to treat the ants this fall.

Luckily, we have the Two-Step Method.

The Two-Step Method includes broadcasting a bait insecticide over your entire yard sometime between late August and mid-October, and then treating individual, problem mounds with an approved mound drench, granule, bait, or dust insecticide.

Step One: Baits

Fire ant baits consist of pesticides on processed corn grits coated with soybean oil.

Worker ants take the bait back to the colony, where it is shared with the queen, which then either dies or becomes infertile.

Baits currently available include Amdro, Siege, Logic, Award, Ascend, or Raid Fire Ant Killer.

Late August through mid-October is an ideal time to apply fire ant bait to your lawn — ants are still foraging and weather patterns are more predictable so you can apply bait when no rain is expected for several days after treatment.

Baits are slow acting and may take weeks to reduce ant mound numbers.

However, it’s a lot easier to be patient with baits during the winter when we spend more time indoors than in the spring, when you’re anxious to get outdoors.

Closely follow label directions.

Today’s baits are gentle on the environment and are best applied using crank-type seeders or spreaders.

Step Two: Individual Mound Chemical Treatments

These products come as dusts, liquid drenches, or granules.

Closely follow directions on the label.

With dust products, no water is needed, and they act fast.

However, they leave a surface residue. Liquid drenches generally eliminate mounds within a few hours and leave little surface residue after application.

Granular products are relatively fast acting and usually require putting granules on and around the mound and then sprinkling 1 to 2 gallons of water on without disturbing the mound.

By starting your fire ant control program in the fall and following a regular maintenance schedule thereafter, you’ll see fewer ants — and less ant stings.