Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fire Ant Awareness Week

More than 10 years ago, the second week of September was declared statewide as Fire Ant Awareness Week. This week was established to help Texas residents realize the importance of a fall treatment for fire ants, since it is also important to treat in the fall to keep the fire ants from returning the following spring!
Before treating for fire ants, one must first survey the area to determine the number of mounds. If less than 5 mounds are present in a quarter acre plot, then it is advised to treat the individual mounds with a bait, drench or dust.
If more than 5 mounds are present, then a fire ant bait or contact insecticide can be broadcasted over the entire area. Fire ant baits are comprised of defatted corn grit covered with an insecticide and soybean oil. Before broadcasting the fire ant bait, foraging activity should be evaluated by placing a potato chip or hot dog next to a mound. If fire ants find the chip or hot dog within fifteen minutes, then it is an appropriate time to broadcast the fire ant bait. Fire ants will typically forage when the soil surface temperature is between 65 and 95° F. The delivery process of fire ant baits into the colony is so effective, that the amount of insecticide applied in an area is significantly reduced. Fire ant baits should never be watered into the soil and they should not be used if they smell rancid. Contact insecticides can also be broadcasted over the entire area and these need to be watered into the soil. One contact insecticide, containing the active ingredient fipronil, can be used for fire ant control and will usually provide 9 to 12 months control.
Both fire ant baits and contact insecticides can be broadcast using a hand-held spreader for small areas or a Herd Seeder can be mounted onto a truck or ATV for larger areas.
For more information, please visit the fire ant webpage at http://fireant.tamu.edu.

Fire ant mound in lawn. Photo by Dr. Bart Drees, Professor and Extension Entomologist, Texas A&M University.

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