The arrival of much needed rain late in October produced a rise in lake levels and is also resulting in an increase in fire ant mound building. After a long hot summer and prolonged drought that suppressed fire ants, this late season burst of activity may come as an unpleasant surprise. In areas where mounds are unacceptable or it is likely that people will come into contact with these stinging pests, there may be a need for control.
Many effective baits and contact insecticides are available. Using a mound drench is the best method for quick removal of colonies where immediate action is necessary. At this point in the season baits offer the most cost effective and environmentally friendly method of control in less critical areas. However, baits must be applied when the ants are active and surface/grass conditions will remain dry for 24-48 hours. Therefore, rain, irrigation, and heavy dew are to be avoided. Soil temperature is now the most important factor affecting fire ant foraging and surface activity.
The best technique for accessing fire ant feeding activity is to pre-bait the area using a small portion of the bait or another attractive food source including potato chips, french fries, pieces of hot dog, or other oily food. If the ants are foraging, the ants will soon find the bait or food. The presence of fire ants at these monitoring stations indicates it is a good time to apply the bait.