The red fire ant is an extremely invasive species. Worse still, when something carelessly walks into one of their nests, should the ants bite en masse, their painful bites can injure or kill cattle, wildlife, pets, and, rarely, even people—especially if they are allergic to the poison. When they are numerous (not less than 300 or so per acre) their nests are ugly and regularly damage lawnmowers and similar equipment. Brave ants are also known to infest almost any building and have the chewing power to cause serious damage to electrical equipment and cables.
Red fire ants cost Americans billions of dollars a year, not only in damages but also in insecticides. The problem is that there is a lot of misinformation regarding which methods are effective against fire ants and which ones are not.
In order to shed some light on this topic, the following article will focus in reviewing commercial products that help get rid of fire ants without having to call in pest control, but it will also serve as a guide for people looking for homemade solutions that are consistently effective.
Being able to identify brave ants is a key step in the process of getting rid of them. There are literally hundreds of different types of ants in U.S., including a number of native brave ant species, most of which are considered to be beneficial insects. Collectively, ant species recycle more dirt than earthworms and several species feed on other insect pests, which, in turn, help to regulate their densities.
Wild ants build their nests (mounds) virtually anywhere—in open spaces or beside buildings, trees, sidewalks and electricity control boxes. Anthills host an impressive colony of ants and whenever the anthill mound is disturbed red ants emerge rapidly and start biting. They even run on vertical surfaces.
Red ants are a dark reddish brown in color, with shining black abdomens. In terms of size, they measure approximately 1/16 to ¼ inches in length. They look similar to numerous other types of ants so be sure to identify the species correctly before trying to find a way to kill them.
Most people try to eradicate an ant colony of red ants by treating the anthills individually. This type of treatment of individual nests is relatively expensive, costing up to $2+ per anthill, and requires considerable labor and time if the area to be treated is extensive. You can use considerably more insecticide than recommended, which can lead to pollution of the environment if there is rain and the insecticide is washed into streams and lakes.
In order to make the control process more efficient, it is important to kill all the queen ants otherwise, you will not fully eradicate the colonies. Additionally, some nests can go unnoticed. Even in areas where each anthill has been totally treated, they can be quickly re-infested as a new ant colony of migrating from anthills that haven’t been treated will soon move in. Also, colonies that lie deep in the soil usually escape this treatment and build new fire ant mounds. This also happens after heavy rains. It is generally less expensive and more effective for homeowners to have the entire yard treated using an appropriate product for spread application.
Red fire ants can’t be completely exterminated as it is impossible to treat every infested area. There is no method that controls wild ants by 100%, especially in larger areas. The goal is to find one of the least expensive methods that will also be friendly to the environment.
There are many different types of products that can be used to control and kill red ants. Depending on the area and the limitations, some methods can be more beneficial than others. For places where there are laws enforcing environment protection, organic products and integral treatment of infested areas is a more viable solution.
However, this article will be focused in 2 types of remedies, which are also considered the most effective ones. Homemade remedies and commercial insecticides.
Many home products have been used to control red ants. Some solutions such as covering the Fire ant mound with two to three gallons of nearly boiling water will eliminate colonies of ants approximately 60 percent of the time, but it has many drawbacks, such as the fact that it will also kill plants that come in contact with the solution.
Homemade solutions are usually far cheaper than commercial pesticides. However, applying them correctly in infested areas is usually a difficult task and requires more labor than using a commercial pesticide.
The use of insecticides to control red ants is regulated by environmental protection agencies, at least in the U.S. However, there is commercial insecticide that fulfills the requirements and is sold in stores as normal products. It is important to make sure the product is appropriate for the area where they are going to be used, especially if people want to perform the treatment in a place where vegetables or other types of food grow.
Products for the control of red ants are formulated as powders, granules, liquids, and baits. These products are applied either to individual anthills or by pouring the product on the total surface of the infested area.
Scientists have discovered that, in case of an emergency, the queen of red ants can escape by going deeper into the ground through the passageways that were excavated earlier. In this case, the anthill will be back where it was in a couple of weeks. So, using boiling water increases the chances of reaching the queen. For people who want to ensure the queen dies, it is recommendable to use liquid nitrogen along with boiling water. 3 gallons of boiling water exterminates 60% of the colonies which is a great percentage.
Pouring boiling water into the anthill can be considered the only traditional homemade method with some level of effectiveness. Since there are many other options that only make red ants flee from when they are and create an anthill someplace else after a couple of days.
Pros of Using Boiling Water to Kill Red Ants:
Cons of Using Boiling Water to Kill Red Ants:
White vinegar has also been proved to be an effective homemade remedy for red ants. Red ants, as well as many other types of ants, cannot stand its strong smell. It is quite manoeuvrable since you can use it to mop the floor and clean windowsills in order to keep them away.
Pros of White Vinegar:
Cons of White Vinegar:
Sodium Borate (also called borax) is toxic and red ants die sometime after ingesting it. Red ants feel quite attracted to this substance so they usually eat it. Using the same amount of sodium borate and food and putting it near the anthill is an effective method to get rid of red ants.
Pros of Sodium Borate:
Cons of Sodium Borate:
When home remedies do not work out, it is time to use heavy artillery. Although these solutions are more expensive than homemade remedies, they are way more effective and quite easy to use:
These baits are extremely effective. They use sodium borate as an active ingredient for borate acid, which is a very toxic component for red ants. This bait is effective against all types of ants and is sold as a plastic mini-container with some liquid inside of it. It only requires to be placed near the anthill, the smell of these bait stations will attract ants.
Pros of TERRO Liquid Ant Baits:
Cons of TERRO Liquid Ant Baits:
This is a very effective product and one of the favorites among customers. It comes in small packs of 9.5 g each. It can be mixed with water and pours in the anthills.
Pros of Demon Wp Insecticide:
Cons of Demon Wp Insecticide:
These are granules can be used to kill red ants as well as many other garden plagues. Distributing the granules across your garden will repel red ants for 90 days at least.
Pros of using Ortho 0196010:
Cons of using Ortho 0196010:
This ant dust was designed to kill carpenter ants; however, it is so strong that it can easily help getting read of red ants as well. Even though its price is around $7.50 it is not considered expensive because it lasts up to 8 months, it is waterproof meaning that rain will not wash it off and it is also very effective.
Pros of TERRO Ant Dust:
Cons of TERRO Ant Dust: