Although it is commonly said that all is fair in love and war, we want to promote environmentally friendly actions.
Only Attack the Fire Ants!
You want to be very careful to kill only the fire ants and not all of the ants or you will have a far worse fire ant problem in the near future. The indigenous ants are effective at slowing down the spread of the fire ant populations, first simply by their entrenched position, but secondly by reducing food supply. Please take the time to be sure that you are attacking ONLY the fire ants. Natural Fire Ant Control Here are some nontoxic fire ant control methods we’ve found. We can’t vouch for how effective any of them are, but it doesn’t hurt to give them a try if you want to use a natural fire ant killer and avoid using chemicals.
Splenda’s molecular structure is similar to that of DDT. Sprinkle it around the mound. The ants love it. Once they eat it, sayonara! The whole mound will be gone. It has been reported that Splenda along with cinnamon works to control ants.
The use of club soda is controversial. We’ve heard from people who say it works, yet scientific research says it does not. If you try it, pour 1-2 cups on the mound. The club soda is said to emit a gas which kills the queen. It takes about a week.
The tiny insect called a nematode lives in the ground. They sting and eat ants. You can purchase these, mix them with water, and spread them around infested areas. Put them out right after the last freeze. The ground should be wet to moist. Be sure not to use city water to mix them because the chlorine in it will kill them. They take about a week to work. They will also kill anything else which lives in the ground that is slow or in hibernation.
Dish Soap or Laundry Detergent Make lots of suds with dish soap or laundry detergent and pour it or splash it on the ants. It is reported to kill them in their tracks. It works on all ants. To keep the ants from getting inside your home, mix dish soap or laundry detergent in a bucket and pour around the foundation, on the window sills, and on any cracks in the foundation or walls. If it rains, this would have to be reapplied. This solution may also work if sprayed directly on them inside the house.
After barbequing, take the burning embers and put them on top of the mound.
Garlic Barrier is concentrated liquid garlic. Pour it right on the mounds and they are reported to leave immediately and not return.
This fire ant remedy was mentioned above where we talk about what to do if fire ants have invaded your home. Natural bait can also be used around the mound. Some examples of baits are: Peanut butter and boric acid (15%) in a jar lid Equal parts of borax and granulated sugar A borax and corn syrup mixture Spread the bait around the nest in a circle. Spread it in a 1-3 foot circle, starting from the base of the mound. Spread it sparsely. If it is too concentrated, it will actually repel the ants.
Get a 3′ piece of 5/8″ re-bar. Use it to make a hole to the bottom of the mound. Insert a piece of dry ice into the hole and push it to the bottom with the re-bar. Dry ice is approximately -110° F. The queen will be killed, along with most of the ants. When the queen dies, the ants die. Please be careful to wear heavy work gloves to protect your hands from freezing.
An inexpensive, environmentally safe, natural fire ant killer is to melt ½ bar of lye soap in 5 gallons of water. Wear rubber gloves, protect your eyes and be careful handling the lye as it is highly caustic and can cause extreme burns. Pour this solution in a circle around the ant mound to prevent ants from escaping, then stir them up and drench them thoroughly. This will kill the ants instantly without polluting your garden or harming pets.
Pouring boiling water on a colony has been recommended as a non-chemical solution to get rid of fireants. But if it does not kill the queen, it will not eliminate the colony. To use boiling water as a method, start with a sunny, cool day, preferably in the spring or fall when the ants are most active. Pour about 3 gallons of truly boiling water slowly over the mound. Some ants can survive up to 14 days underwater, so the key word here is boiling. The ants actually die from being scorched, not drowned. But be careful not to scald yourself! Try to collapse as much of the mound as possible while pouring. The ants, their larvae, and their stored food are all scalded and dead within seconds.
We know this sounds gross, but it is reported to work. Human urine has been known to repel ants, probably all kinds of ants. Try pouring it on or around the mounds and see if they don’t flee. (Leave an opening for them to run through!) It won’t kill them, but they should move on. If you use it near vegetables, be careful not to get it on the plants.
Although this is not completely effective, it may help when only one or two mounds are found. Simply dig up the colony and dump it into a five gallon bucket filled with hot soapy water and let it sit for 24 hours. The temperature of the water and soap will hopefully kill them. Caution: Disturbing the nest will cause the ants to swarm their invader. Take caution to prevent being stung.
===========Remove Their Scent Trails===========
Just before a rain, or in the early evening before the ants have gone underground for the night, dig up and scatter them. Fling them as far as you can, DOWNWIND. Their scent trails will be washed out by the rain or dew. Most of them will not find their way back. This may need to be repeated several times.
===========Grits or Cornmeal===========
There is a theory that fire ants will eat grits, the grits will swell up inside their stomach and then the ants will die. However, not everyone agrees that corn meal or grits works.
One person uses cheap corn meal bought at her local discount grocery store. She spreads it around and on the fire ant beds. The workers will carry it into the mound to the queen. When she eats it, it will swell up and kill her.
Another person said: “Try grits. A person at the San Antonio Zoo told me that is what they use. It is safe for all other animals but when the ants ingest it, it swells up inside and they can not get rid of it. They also can’t eat anything else so basically they starve to death. We tried it at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport and it really works.”
Here is what one Florida resident found: “I live in Florida and have just begun to get serious about trying to combat the fire ants that have conquered our property. I’ve never had luck with the chemical granules; they only make the ants move – and not very far away, I might add. Also, over the last few years, I’ve become more environmentally conscious, so I’ve been researching some natural remedies. My first choice was cornmeal. I read that it expands inside the ants’ stomachs and they basically explode…not true. I selected an ant mound and pulled up a chair and watched for thirty minutes. The ants simply moved the cornmeal granules away from and out of their mound. They never ate any, nor did they carry a single piece back to the colony. I tried this same method with two other mounds with the same exact results. Nothing.”
Scattering Method, Effective During the Winter In the winter, wait for a sunny day when a cold front has just passed through. The afternoon temperatures should be in the 50s, but will drop below freezing that night. It may worth while to clean and apply some talc or talcum powder to the shovel to make it more difficult for the ants to climb up the handle. Wait until the late afternoon when the fire ant mounds are still in the sun, but will be in the shade in one or two hours. You’ll find that the ants are all near the top of the mound in the soil which has been warmed by the sun.
Get a wheelbarrow full of soil and a long handled shovel. Dig up the mound down to about two feet or to where you run out of ants. Fling each shovel full down wind as far away as you can, into a shady area, if possible. (Be sure not to fling them upwind!) The mounds will be easy to dig up because the ants have loosened the soil.
With the temperature in the 50s, the ants will be sluggish and less likely to sting you. Use the soil from the wheel barrel to fill in the hole where the mound was. Pack down the soil as you fill it. The ants in the shade are so sluggish they can hardly move. Any others which are able to make it back to the mound will not be able to get in because you have filled it with packed down soil. When the temperature drops below freezing that night, any ants left above ground will freeze.
One afternoon of hard work should eliminate most of the ant colonies. Any weakened ones which remain can be dealt with in the same manner on another winter day. It may take several cycles of scattering them to completely eliminate them. Or you could combine this method with the dry ice method. Before filling in the hole with soil from your wheel barrel, put a piece of dry ice in it. Any ants that are left will be frozen. Let Them Fight It Out Themselves It seems that fire ants from different colonies do not get along.
You can try putting this to your advantage by mixing up the ants from different mounds. Colonies can be eliminated, or at least, weakened, using this method. It should work, as long as the area you live in does not have multi-queen colonies. When there is only one queen, the fire ants are territorial and will fight invading ants. Using a long handled shovel, take a shovel full from mound one and set it aside. Take a shovel full from mound two and place it where you removed the ants from mound one. Then take the ants you put aside and put them into mound two. If you have three colonies, you can do a three way mix. Watch what happens.
You should see piles of dead ants in a few days.
A variation on this method takes advantage of the fact that fire ants will venture only 50 to 100 feet away from their colony. If you have a strong colony, take a shovel full from it and mix the ants with a weaker colony which is 150 feet or more away. If you have added an equal or greater number of invading ants, they will kill out the resident ants. The invading ants will not be able to find their way home and will die out.
BROODS OF WHITE BABY ANTS
With both of these methods, if you find a brood (white baby ants), scatter them onto a hot pavement or other hot exposed surface. They will quickly die before they are discovered and rescued or adopted by other fire ants. KEEP AT IT You will have to do this mixing of the colonies and scattering of the broods several times to entirely get rid of them. They may, at some point, decide to pack up and move elsewhere.
What you are doing is a balancing act where you are mixing the colonies with the aim of weakening all of them. You may want to leave one strong colony. Then when the rest of them have been weakened, take shovelfulls from the strong one and mix them with the weakened ones to completely eliminate them. Of course, then you have one colony remaining. You can treat it with one of the other methods.
You don’t want to get stung when you are mixing up these colonies. Watch out for the expanding ring of disturbed ants and don’t stand there. Also, don’t walk on the path of the shovelfulls of ants you have transported. Some may have fallen off the shovel. But once the colonies have been weakened, they are not as aggressive and do not do the mass stinging attacks which fire ants are known for.
AFTER THEY’RE GONE
Once you have gotten rid of the ants on your property, then all you have to do is watch for new, young colonies which appear in late summer or early fall. They look something like a pile of earthworm castings. But if you disturb the pile, a few ants will appear. In this early stage, you can literally stomp them out of existence. If you find a large colony which has moved in from a neighboring property, you can scatter is as described above. If it is not winter, they will at least be weakened and may relocate to a less hostile environment.
If Fire Ants Have Invaded Your Home! If fire ants invade your house, it is easy to panic. What do you do?? We have had some input from our readers with suggestions for what to do if fire ants have come into your home under the doors or windowsills or through cracks in the wall or foundation.
===========Alcohol and Dish Soap===========
For Use Inside Your Home: 4 cups water 4 cups alcohol 2 cups liquid dish soap Fill a spray bottle. Spray on ants. It kills ants instantly. Wipe clean with a damp cloth when ants are dead. Sometimes it has to be repeated, but it is non-toxic and easy.
If they are submerged in rubbing alcohol, the fire ants will die. Denatured alcohol is safe and evaporates within minutes and the poisonous methanol in it is oxidized within a few days therefore not polluting the ground.
===========Clorox Bath Cleaner with Bleach===========
Inside your home… Only try this method if you have hardwood or linoleum floors. Do NOT spray carpet! Use Clorox Bath Cleaner with Bleach in a spray bottle. Spray it directly on them and all around where they come inside the house. It is reported that they stop moving within seconds and are dead within minutes. When they are all taken care of, use a wet mop to get the bleach and dead ants off the floor.
Mix the boric acid with some powered sugar. Sprinkle it around the windows and doors and any place the ants could get inside like cracks in the foundation. As the ants eat the sugar, the boric acid scratches the oil off their coats and they will die. This works for roaches, too. Rain will, of course, wash it away. You will need to reapply it. If you are desperate, you could sprinkle it inside the house, too, by the windows and doors and along the outside walls. Get the purest you can find. Ask your local pharmacist. It is not expensive.
Place bait in corners, under cabinets and in closets.
Some examples of baits would be:
Peanut butter and boric acid (15%) in a jar lid
Equal parts of borax and granulated sugar
A borax and corn syrup mixture
Be sure to frequently refill the mixture and keep it away from high temperatures, high humidity and intense sunlight. Baits can be rendered ineffective under these conditions. Bait can also be spread around the nest in a circle. Spread it in a 1-3 foot circle, starting from the base of the mound. Spread it sparsely. If it is too concentrated, it will actually repel the ants.
There are many natural ways to get rid of fire ants. But not all of them work. Avoid Commercial Baits When Possible Many fire ant bait products affect other ants as well as birds and other creatures. Please be aware of this limitation and only use baits when other solutions do not exist. The good news is that there are, or soon will be, some new baits on the market which only affect fireants and not other species.