Are you wondering how to get rid of fire ants?
If you live in the southern part of the United States, chances are you just might be. These troublesome (and sometimes dangerous) stinging pests can live in large colonies of up to 250,000 ants and are increasingly causing problems for many homeowners.
These insects reproduce and spread quickly, and can wreak havoc on lawns, gardens, buildings, and in homes, leading many to not only question how to get rid of fire ants, but how to prevent them as well.
And while fire ants are beneficial insects and play an important role in our ecosystem, these creatures are also an invasive species to North America and have been a growing nuisance since they were first accidentally introduced into Alabama in the 1930’s.
So, if you’re here looking for how to get rid of fire ants on your property or around your home, we’re here to help.
Let’s get started.
What Are Fire Ants?
There are several species of fire ants in the US but the red imported fire ant is the most problematic.
“Fire ant” is the general term used to describe over 200 species of stinging ants who are native to South America. Some of these species of fire ant found their way to North America via human travel in the 1930’s.
Fire ants are not always red or brown in color, as often thought. In fact, there are two types of fire ants that are now common in North America that are both black and red, including the black imported fire ant and the red imported fire ant.
The most common and most problematic fire ant in the United States today is the red imported fire ant, which has been known to build large, mound-like colonies in flat fields and yards.They prefer to live outdoors but can find their way inside our homes in search of food.
It’s important to know how to get rid of fire ants not only because they make such large colonies, but also because they can be hazardous. Fire ants have been known to be mysteriously attracted to electrical currents and are often found nesting in electrical junction boxes. Because of this, they can cause serious damage to homes and buildings. Their large colonies can also destroy lawns, plants, and gardens.
Worse, fire ants can be dangerous. They are territorial and aggressive insects who kill prey using their strong mandibles to hold them while injecting a venom using a stinger in their abdomen.
The fire ant’s sting releases a toxin called solenopsin, which is a poisonous alkaloid they use to not only kill other insects, but also to attack anyone or anything they see as a threat to their colony.
While a fire ant sting is typically not dangerous to humans and pets, it can be fatal if the victim has an allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.
Due to the damage fire ants can cause and their potential danger to humans and pets, it’s important to be able to recognize if you have a fire ant infestation and know how to get rid of fire ants quickly and effectively.
How To Get Rid Of Fire Ants – Recognizing A Fire Ant Infestation
Fire ants cause damage to buildings, homes, food, electrical junction boxes and more.
Because fire ants reproduce so quickly and are known to expand and develop large colonies in yards (and sometimes buildings and homes), it’s vital you recognize the first signs of a fire ant problem around your property so you can keep these invasive insects under control.
The easiest way to recognize a fire ant problem is to keep an eye out for a fire ant mound. The unique formation of a fire ant mound is unlike other ant hills, as it doesn’t have an entry at the top of the hill. Instead, a fire ant mound looks like a pile of “fluffy” dirt or soil. When disturbed, a swarm of fire ants will usually rush out to defend their colony and queen.
Unless you have a large fire ant infestation in your yard, you may not notice a mound right away, and may not realize you have a problem until you see them inside your home or until you are stung.
If you want to know how to get rid of fire ants, keep an eye out for other common signs of their presence, including:
- Seeing fire ants in your yard or home
- Finding a fire ant mound or mounds in your yard or near your property after rainfall
- A repeated swarm of fire ants arriving when you leave out food
How To Get Rid Of Fire Ants – Most Popular Methods
Fire ants can be eliminated using a few different methods.
Fire ants can be difficult to get rid of because they reproduce so rapidly and often build large colonies underground. Some colonies extend as far as 25 feet away from the entrance and a colony of fire ants can be as vast as 250,000. Sometimes when a colony gets too full, fire ants will venture out to build new mounds and colonies nearby.
The best method for how to get rid of fire ants is to prevent them from entering your yard in the first place, which we will talk about further down.
However, if you already have an active fire ant colony in your yard or on your property, there are some methods experts recommend for how to get rid of fire ants effectively, including:
- Natural Repellents
- Bait Traps
- Home remedies
Let’s go over a few of our favorite products for how to get rid of fire ants and talk about which products work best.
How To Get Rid Of Fire Ants Using Natural Repellents
There are several natural repellents you can use to eliminate fire ants.
While it is true that fire ants can be difficult to get rid of without the right repellents and remedies, there are still natural ways you can eliminate fire ants without the use of harsh chemicals and poisons.
That said, some natural methods for how to get rid of fire ants work best to help repel them or keep them from entering your home. Natural remedies can also help reduce the scent of ant trails, which can attract and alert other fire ants to your home in search of food.
We have listed some of our favorite natural methods for how to get rid of fire ants below.
Boric Acid Ant and Roach Killer
Boric Acid is a natural compound used for how to get rid of fire ants that is generally safe to use around children and pets when used as directed. It is found in a number of natural minerals including water, plants, and rocks.
But how does it work? Boric acid is a good method for how to get rid of fire ants because it expands inside the insect when ingested, killing it. However, in order to work, insects must crawl through the powder and clean it off of themselves to ingest it.
Wondercide Natural Pest Control Spray
Wondercide is an all natural insect repellent spray that is best used indoors to repel and kill fire ants and other insects who enter into your home uninvited. This spray uses essential oils and leaves behind a lovely smell while also working effectively for how to get rid of fire ants, earwigs, stink bugs, spiders, wasps, mosquitoes, and other pests.
This product is safe to use around children and pets and is gentle on the environment. You can also order it in larger quantities to use specifically in gardens and lawns.
Diatomaceous Earth Powder
Diatomaceous Earth is another organic and natural product you can use for how to get rid of fire ants in your home and in your garden. This product is so effective that it can even work to get rid of bed bugs. It uses its natural makeup to penetrate the hard exoskeleton of fire ants and other insects like roaches, odorous black ants, spiders, earwigs, and more.
It is safe to use this powder inside your home and outside your home. Experts recommend sprinkling Diatomaceous Earth along the perimeter of your home to keep fire ants out. You can also sprinkle it directly on mounds, throughout your yard, and even in your garden.
Please note that this product works best when dry, so it will need to be reapplied after a rain.
Mdxconcepts Organic Home Pest Control
Mdxconcepts Organic Pest Control is a natural and safe product you can use to help keep fire ants at bay using natural ingredients. You can use it both indoors and out to repel fire ants, however keep in mind it will not be able to eliminate the entire colony unless used along with other repellents or fire ant removal methods.
This product can also help repel pests like fleas, roaches, spiders, earwigs, and centipedes.
TBI Pro Ultrasonic Pest Repellent Wall Plug-In
If you have a fire ant problem outside of your home and are worried about not only now to get rid of fire ants but also how to keep them from coming into your house, you may want to try using an ultrasonic pest repellent plug in like the product above.
How To Get Rid Of Fire Ants Using Bait Traps Or Insecticides
Bait traps are effective for eradicating entire ant colonies because ants will bring poisoned bait back to their nest.
Bait traps and insecticides are an effective method for how to get rid of fire ants. That said, many bait traps use poisons to control and kill ant colonies and insecticides use harsh chemicals that can be harmful to children, pets, and the environment.
If you do plan to use insecticides or bait traps for how to get rid of fire ants, use them as directed and keep them out of reach of children and pets.
Now, let’s take a look at some of our favorite bait traps and insecticides below.
Amdro Granules Fire Ant Bait
If you are wondering how to get rid of fire ants using bait, we recommend Amdro Granules. It is specifically designed to target fire ants and begins working right away upon application.
It also targets the queen and can work to eliminate visible mounds as well as mounds underground you cannot see. Keep in mind that the active ingredient used is hydramethylnon, which is an effective ant killer but also a toxic insecticide that can be dangerous for people and pets.
Hot Shot Ant Killer Aerosol
Hot Shot Ant Killer is an aerosol spray you can use for how to get rid of fire ants that works both indoors and outdoors. This product kills fire ants on contact and helps repel and reduce mounds, however you may be required to use other remedies to further eradicate very large fire ant infestations.
The active ingredient in this ant killer is permethrin, which is used commonly in commercial insecticides to also eradicate spiders, roaches, silverfish, and other pests. While this is an effective insecticide, it is also toxic to people and pets and should be used with caution.
Ortho Home Defense Liquid Ant Bait
This Ortho Home Defense Bait helps to stop fire ants from entering your home and can also help reduce and even eliminate small infestations in your yard. While it doesn’t kill the fire ants right away, the ants typically bring the toxic bait back to their colony.
However, the product uses toxic chemicals to target and kill insects and should be used carefully and only as directed.
Ortho Fire Ant Mound Treatment
One of the most effective methods for how to get rid of fire ants is to target and kill the queen. If you are dealing with a large fire ant infestation and want to eliminate the colony, we recommend Ortho Fire Ant Treatment. This is a fire ant killer that is specifically designed to destroy the mound and target the queen.
It works in fifteen minutes or less and helps prevent future mounds. It is safe to use on your lawn and in your garden, although it does use toxic ingredients and should be used with caution around children and pets.
Home Plus Ant Traps
Another fire ant trap that is specifically designed to target the queen is the Home Plus Ant Trap, which can be used both inside and outside to protect your home and yard.
It comes in a kid and pet friendly design that helps keep your family and animals safe while also helping you work on how to get rid of fire ants. Like the other baited traps and poisons for how to get rid of fire ants on this list, this bait is designed to entice the fire ant to bring it back to the colony and in turn kill the queen.
How To Get Rid Of Fire Ants Using Home Remedies
It’s tough to find home remedies that work to get rid of fire ants, but citrus oil and dish soap tend to be a popular method.
When it comes to using home remedies for how to get rid of fire ants, there are many methods. However, the effectiveness of these methods are controversial and not all experts agree that they work.
That said, there are some methods that experts do stand by, like mixing citrus oil, dish soap, and water. A combination of this solution poured directly onto a fire ant mound should help kill the colony of fire ants without the use of insecticides or other harsh chemicals.
However, you may have to reapply this method several times.
The below video discusses some more natural remedies we like for how to get rid of fire ants.
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Other common home ingredients that are said to help repel and get rid of fire ants include:
- Citrus Oils
- Dish Soap
- Hot Water (poured directly into the mound)
- White Vinegar
- Salt Or Pepper
Wondering about some recipes for how to get rid of fire ants using some of the above ingredients? Some of our favorites include:
- Chalk, Cinnamon, or Cornmeal Deterrents
- 1 package of common white powdered chalk OR
- 1 canister of cinnamon spice OR
- 1 package of cornmeal
Directions: Sprinkle this mixture along the perimeter of your home and wherever you have noticed fire ant activity. You can also sprinkle this mixture around fire ant mounds you have come across in your yard.
- White Vinegar Spray
- 1 spray bottle
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 1 cup of water
Directions: Mix the solution well and spray it wherever you want to repel fire ants.
- Essential Oil Spray
- 1 spray bottle
- 1/4 cup of water
- 15 drops of tea tree oil
- 15 drops of peppermint oil
- 7 drops of citrus oil
Directions: Mix the concoction and apply around your home and yard as needed.
How To Get Rid Of Fire Ants – When To Call A Professional
If none of the above methods or remedies work or if you have a very serious fire ant problem, professionals may be needed.
Because fire ants can be difficult to get rid of when they are invading your yard in very large colonies, some homeowners find they need to call professionals. You may also need to contact a professional if you notice fire ants have invaded your electrical junction box, which can be highly problematic.
If you do feel you can’t handle a fire ant infestation on your own, don’t worry. Your local pest control companies should be able to offer their services for between $100 and $300. Of course, this cost may vary depending on location, infestation magnitude, and company.
Fast Facts – Everything You Should Know About Fire Ants
Fire ant mounds do not have entry holes at the top, like many other ant mounds.
Yes, fire ants are an invasive insect to North America with a painful and venomous sting. And yes, they can damage property in large numbers and even be dangerous to sensitive people and pets. However, it’s important to remember that they, like most creatures, play an important and vital role in our ecosystem.
Fire ants, like many different ant species, help aerate the soil, thus encouraging healthy plant life. They also eat other problematic pests and insects, as well as provide an important food source to predators like birds.
Let’s take this time to learn a few facts about fire ants you may not have known.
Fire Ants Are Omnivores
Fire ants eat both meat and vegetation. They hunt for their food and primarily feed on insects like spiders, earthworms, ticks, arthropod eggs, as well as fruits, vegetables, sweets, and even dead animals.
Fire Ant Mounds Don’t Have Entry Or Exit Holes
Most ant mounds have an entry and exit hole at the top of the dirt. Fire ants, on the other hand, make their entry and exit points on the ground. If you find a large mound of dirt without an entry and exit point, you’ve likely spotted a fire ant mound.
There Are Over 200 Species of Fire Ants
That said, the two most common types of fire ants you will come across in the US are the imported black fire ant and the imported red fire ant.
Fire Ants Are More Aggressive Than Other Ant Species
Named for their painful, burning sting, red fire ants are known to be more aggressive than other ant species. They hold onto their victims using strong mandibles and then sting from a stinger in their abdomen. They often sting repeatedly, injecting a toxic venom that kills smaller prey.
There Are Three Types Of Ants in A Fire Ant Colony
The three different ants include the queen, drone ants (males) and worker ants (primarily females).
How To Prevent Future Fire Ant Problems On Your Property
Prevention is the easiest way to keep fire ants from becoming a problem.
The best method for how to get rid of fire ants is to prevent them from becoming a problem in the first place.
There are several ways you can help prevent fire ants from building colonies in your yard and subsequently invading your home by following the below preventative methods:
- Eliminate the food source
Remember, fire ants are omnivores who feed on a number of different food sources. This means your food sources could be theirs. Pick up after picnics and don’t leave ripe fruits or veggies on trees or in gardens. You may also choose to use natural pest control methods often to help eliminate other insects fire ants feed on.
- Turn mulch and soil often
Fire ants don’t want to build their nests in areas that are often being disturbed by humans. To help disrupt colonies that are in the process of being built and avoid future fire ants from building near your property, turn mulch often.
- Keep up on yard maintenance
Mow your lawn and keep it tidy. Doing this will not only help you work on how to get rid of fire ants, but it will also help keep other pests from infiltrating your lawn like snakes, insects, and rodents.
- Trim trees and shrubbery
Fire ants often get into our homes through trees and shrubs that are touching our property. Trim branches and bushes back and plant vegetation at least a foot away from the perimeter of your home.
- Keep garbage stored securely until trash day
Like many ants, fire ants are attracted to the scent of garbage and old food. Store garbage in airtight containers or off of your property if possible, and don’t leave it out until it’s time for the trash to be removed. This will also help eliminate other pests like raccoons and possums.
- Wash empty garbage bins with ammonia
Ammonia will help cover the scent of food, sweets, and other garbage that may attract fire ants. Spray your garbage cans down with ammonia and water spray after they are emptied and as often as needed to help keep fire ants and other pests away.
And remember, fire ants may be an invasive nuisance but they can also be beneficial. Controlling fire ants is key to keeping them from becoming problematic in your yard, garden, or home.
What do you think? Do you have any home remedies that work for how to get rid of fire ants? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave us a comment in the comment section below.