With fewer daylight hours and cooler temperatures, our lawns have slowed considerably in growth, thus giving us more time to pay greater attention to lawn care activities other than mowing. One such activity that you should consider now is an insecticide application to control fire ants.
Fire ants are a nuisance and a painful pest that we must manage, as it is unlikely that we will ever eradicate them. While the larger colonies are quite noticeable by their elevated mounds, it is those smaller not so obvious ones that keep their ever presence in our lawns.
Killing the queens is the only way to eliminate fire ant colonies. Granular bait applications are very effective this time of year as foraging ants looking for food will carry the bait back to the colony, pass it through the food chain and ultimately feed it to the queen. Baits should be applied when the ground is dry and preferably in the late afternoon to ensure that the ants pick it up before it can degrade from bright sunlight and higher temperatures. Baits should always be applied as fresh product since the food source can become rancid overtime and the ants will not eat it. The larger the area treated the greater efficacy you will obtain; therefore, you may want to organize with neighbors to treat several lawns at once.
For additional information on controlling fire ants and other lawn insect pest refer to publication 2331 “Control of Insect Pests In and Around the Home Lawn”.
Published October 24, 2005
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org