Spring is here and in Texas, most ant control companies advise that this means fire ants will soon be active. These pests are both annoying and dangerous to people and pets, as their sting creates painful welts and pustules. In numbers, these pests can even attack and kill livestock.
To prevent infestations, homeowners should partner with experienced ant control services that understand what type of ant control methods work best because there is more to killing these annoying and often dangerous pests than spraying a pesticide.
Understanding Fire Ants
To appropriately control fire ants, ant control companies stress the importance of understanding their lifecycle and habits as follows:
- Nesting - These underground dwellers build mounds anywhere that is suitable. The mounds have multiple openings and if disturbed, workers swarm to attack. The queen lives in the ground where she lays eggs tended by workers as the eggs grow into larvae. The larvae mature into more workers and reproducing adults.
- Feeding - Workers leave the mounds in the morning and evening to look for food to bring back and share with the colony. This is an important detail when planning ant control since it is essential to kill the queen so she cannot continue to reproduce.
- Populations - Depending on the species, some colonies will have one queen while others will have multiple queens. This can mean as many as 40 million ants and 300 mounds per acre of infested land. Considering these numbers, it is impossible to eradicate all colonies. Ant control services instead focus on controlling populations that present problems by using a continuous treatment program as necessary.
Best Control Methods
Although some homeowners may succeed in eradicating smaller numbers of these pests with home remedies, these methods are generally not an effective method of ant control for larger infestations. Boiling water poured into mounds can sometimes be effective, especially if it happens to kill the queen; however, it can also kill surrounding grass and foliage. Organic products like citrus oils and special soil microbes may also be effective. Ant control services find that like boiling water, these methods are only useful with smaller colonies.
The most effective way to control fire ants is using feed baits that contain an insecticide. Ant control companies sprinkle baits around the affected area for workers to pick up and bring back to the colonies. This is the most successful means of infiltrating the mounds to bring the insecticide to the workers, the larvae, and also the queen - and all that consume the bait will die.
To provide the best year-round control, bait is usually broadcast twice a year using a spreader. Problem mounds that pop up in treated areas can be manually treated by spreading more bait around them as necessary. For smaller areas, individual mound treatment alone may also suffice. In either case, continued use of ant baits offers the highest level of success in treating and controlling these pests throughout the year.
Fire ant control is an important part of home maintenance in areas where these pests are common. While many homeowners who deal with an occasional mound may be able to control populations using other methods, ant control services find that insecticide feed baits are the best choice when populations increase and more mounds pop up. To prevent serious infestations, it is best to work with experienced ant control companies who can choose the best treatment methods for preventing fire ant problems all year long!