Fire ant mounds popping up across Alabama - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Fire ant mounds popping up across Alabama

(Source: Pixabay) (Source: Pixabay)
(WAFF) -

Thanks to recent rains, fire ant mounds are popping up in lawns across the state.

According to Alabama Cooperative,  now that the ground isn’t as dry, fire ants are starting to build mounds above ground.

In fact, they can appear in a matter of hours.

“Just because you don’t see fire ants doesn’t mean they aren’t there,” said Dr. Kathy Flanders, who is also an Auburn University entomology professor.

“When it is hot and dry, colonies don’t build the high mounds we are all familiar with. But when the rains come, they resume mound building and that’s why they seem to pop up overnight.”

She adds that understanding fire ants, Solenopsis invicta is key to managing them. “Usually people work too hard, spend too much money and use too much chemical to control fire ants, but it’s really easy to control these things if you understand their biology.”

Managing fire ants with baits 

Fire ant baits are small particles that contain both a soybean oil food attractant and the active ingredient for ant control. Following the bait packaging instructions, homeowners should spread the bait over their entire lawn.

The ants will pick up the bait and bring it back to the nest, passing it between colony members including the queen.

The bait method usually will control 90 percent of fire ant colonies. It is effective and inexpensive at $10 to $20 per acre. It’s also the safest method for children, pets and the environment.

Many people do not understand fire ant biology and try to control the insects using individual mound treatments. Treating individual mounds can be costly and may not offer good control.

First, not all colonies have a visible mound. This means that homeowners will miss treating some colonies.  Also, worker ants will often move the queen ant, eggs and larvae away from danger.

Worker ants will move the colony if they perceive a threat to the queen or colony and reestablish in a different area. While individual mound treatments may kill worker ants, they are not as effective as the bait method in killing the queen.

“If we miss the queen, we haven’t controlled that colony,” Flanders said. “Once we kill the queen, we kill the colony.”

Try the Two-Step Method

Flanders said a two-step method that combines bait treatment of an area with spot treatment of nuisance colonies that move into the bait treated area is an effective control strategy.  Learn more about that here.

“I don’t want you to work too hard to control fire ants,” she said.  “I don’t want you to spend too much money, and I don’t want you to use too much insecticide.

“That’s why baits work for me.”

Click here for more information on products currently available to treat fire ants in Alabama.

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