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Hey, you're in the home improvement zone--YOUR HANDYMAN ZONE!

Bug Control / Insect Control / Pest Control Category: Ants

Improvement Project:

How to get rid of fire ants and prevent their infestation.

Tools / Materials (See Below for Applicability):


To effectively get rid of fire ants and prevent any future encounter with them in or around your house, you'll need to know a little about them, and such pertinent information follows:

Physical Description:

Fire ants vary in size, though generally are relatively small ants.  They generally have segmented bodies with elbow-bent antennas, narrowed waists and are primarily colored dark red to reddish-black; some species of the fire ants are winged. 


Fire ants eat a variety of plants, other insects, small animals, and sweetened foods.


Fire ants live in nests (also known as "galleries") that are located in a mounds, which are holes in the ground.  Fire ants prefer to create their mounds in soil that is exposed to sunshine, and this primarily includes the soil that that encompass house lawns, parks, and cultivated farm fields; mounds have also been found to have been made in decaying tree logs.  Of up to about150 mounds can usually be found in one acre of land.

Fire ants are most active when soil temperatures reach around 60° F.

Fire ants are fierce-fighting ants.  They are notoriously aggressive in their stinging attacks, and this is primarily why they have shown to successfully take on and kill small animals.  They can not only sting humans to cause them skin irritation, nausea and even much more severe injuries, they have been known to cause damage to buildings, including the telephone wires thereof.  Fire ant encounters with buildings are especially true during the winter season, as they tend to seek refuge underneath building slabs, and even right under water heaters and bathtubs of such buildings.

Control treatment: (1) Natural Barrier Approach:

Non-toxic, homemade treatment.  The sprinkling of a thick perimeter line of talcum powder may have a limited effect of discouraging fire ants from approaching your house, though it should not be considered as your only control remedy.

Control treatment: (2) Store Product for Barrier Approach:


As an alternative to the natural method, you may opt to buy bait insecticide products available at hardware stores, home improvement centers, department stores, and pest control supply stores.  You can buy a chemical-free, sticky-barrier product called Tanglefoot, which is specifically designed to stop insects, like ants, in their tracks while in contact with such a sticky compound. 

You can also buy bait products that are applied a few feet all around fire ant mounds (and not directly in the mounds) include the following:  DuPont Advion Fire Ant Bait, Maxforce Fire Ant Bait, Maxforce Ant Granule Bait, and Acephate 75 SP.  Some of the products that expressly specify that they may be incidentally used indoors should be applied in the most vulnerable interior areas of a house, such as a basement, garage and attic, etc.

These products usually not only kill and otherwise eliminate nesting grounds for fire ants, but also have the same effect on other bugs/insects/pests, such as cockroaches and spiders.

Once applied, these products will offer their insecticide protection for a limited time before their effectiveness wears off and, consequently, another application is required.

Caution: Of course, when dealing with insecticide products, make sure you take precautions; read all product manufacturer instructions. 

Control treatment: (3) Store Product for Direct-Contact Approach:

If the perimeter treatment above is not enough, you'll need to buy insecticide products that are designed for direct contact with the fire ant nests.  These products include the following:  Conquer Insecticide and Bifen IT.  Such products are to be applied directly into the mounds where the fire ant nests are located so that such mounds are flooded with such liquid insecticides; on average, about a gallon and a half to two gallons of such liquid insecticides are needed for each fire ant mound.

Caution: Of course, when dealing with insecticide products, make sure you take precautions; read all product manufacturer instructions. 


Moisture-free.  Get rid of moisture from your house that may be accessible to such ants.  This means regularly inspecting your house for any water leaks, and immediately repairing any plumbing leaks or roof leaks.

Porous-free.  Make sure that your house is as sealed as can be, and this includes doing the following:  Using a caulking gun, cocked with a caulking tube of the appropriate caulking, seal all porous openings to your house, such as foundation cracks, window crevices, wall crevices in general, and particularly the crevices surrounding the utility lines that enter your house walls.  Spring a talcum powder barrier, again, if you must.

Wood maintenance.  Keep brush and specifically tree branches trimmed enough so that they do not make contact with the house.  Furthermore, if you store any sort of wood outside, be sure to keep such wood off the ground by laying it over bricks so that the bricks are the only objects touching the ground and not the wood, itself.

The above information should prove to be useful in attempting to learn how to effectively get rid of fire ants and prevent any future encounter with them in or around your house.

Ed the Handyman


Your Handyman Zone Team


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