image used as white space
MSUcares header Link to home page
Logos of MSU, Extension Service, and MAFES Links to home page of website.

Fire Ants in Mississippi

Home Lawns

Fire ants are the most common pests of home lawns in Mississippi. They are not welcome guests! Unknowingly stepping in a fire ant mound can ruin an otherwise pleasant time in the yard.

A fire ant mound Links to larger image
A mature mound will house over 100,000 ants.

Fire ant stings are always painful, but, when they occur in large numbers, they can be especially threatening to young children or people suffering from health problems. People vary in their sensitivity to fire ant stings. For the very small portion of people who are hypersensitive to fire ant stings, even a few stings can be life threatening.

Many homeowners view fire ant control as an unattainable goal, and if you try to control fire ants by only treating individual mounds, it is difficult to make much progress. Control one mound and two more pop up in its place. But it is possible to control fire ants without spending too much time or money. The key to successful fire ant control is to use a combination of control methods and to treat preventively.

Baits: Use granular baits as the foundation of your fire ant control effort. Baits work slowly, but they are quite effective. Baits work best when used preventively. If you don’t want to have big fire ant mounds in the yard, you have to treat before you have big fire ant mounds in the yard! Broadcast baits over your lawn one to three times per year. Once per year may be enough in urban areas but you may need to apply baits two to three times per year in rural areas.

Mound Treatments: Use mound treatments to spot treat any mounds that survive the bait treatments. Dry mound treatments are a quick, convenient way to treat fire ant mounds. Keep a can of one of the dry mound treatments handy for mounds you notice while doing lawn chores. Liquid drenches are messier and more time-consuming, but they are the quickest way to control mounds that need to be eliminated immediately.

Broadcast Insecticide Treatments: Broadcast insecticide treatments are contact insecticides that kill fire ants as they travel through treated soil. Some of the granular broadcast insecticides are quite effective and long-lasting. Because they are more expensive than baits, some homeowners use them only on especially sensitive sites and use baits in the rest of the yard.

More Information

How to control fire ants
Biology of fire ants
Fire Ant Facts
Publication 2429: Control Fire Ants in Your Yard - products recommended for fire ant control

Contact

Dr. Blake Layton, Extension Entomology Specialist
Department of Entomology, Mississippi State University
Phone: (662) 325-2085
Email: blayton@entomology.msstate.edu