Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Eliminating Stinging Fire Ants

Fire Ant, UGA Center for Urban Ag
After the heavy rains metro-Atlanta landscapes enjoyed, Crabapple LandscapExperts are finding that fire ants are surging to the surface with mounds that look like volcanoes of brown sugar and that destroy both the comfort and smoothness of a fine lawn.

Death to Fire Ants
The culprit is the imported red fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, a potent pest in the properties you manage. Fire ant colonies affect the smoothness of turfgrass, and invade gardens, compost piles and even buildings and homes. Fire ants have a painful sting and when a colony is disturbed, hundreds of ants swarm out of the nest to attack the offending child or pet, causing multiple bites that burn like stings and are followed by an itchy rash.

IFA Range of Infestation-ARS
Persistence is Key to Fire Ant Extermination  

At right, fire ants infest the southern U.S. (pink) and potentially threaten the far west (green). Fire ant extermination is not a one-time treatment, but a consistent, planned control program that takes diligence and determination on the part of the LandscapExperts Team at Crabapple.

Apply Now
The best time to apply fire ant control is after a heavy rain and in spring or fall when queen and brood are close to the surface and worker ants are actively foraging for food. Crabapple recommends a two-phase method ofcontrol endorsed by the University of Georgia and by agricultural colleges across the country. At Texas A & M, this follow-up method ofcontrol is called the “Texas Two-Step”.
Best coverage requires 1.) broadcast application of poisonous bait to which ants are attracted that they pick up and carry into their colony, followed by 2.) spot treatment with a contact pesticide, whether chemical or organic.
Stage 1 Control- Broadcast Bait
The first step recommended by University of Georgia entomologists is to broadcast a bait insecticide over the entire infested area. Crabapple uses fresh bait and applies it when the ground and grass are dry. Appealing to ants, processed corn grits coated with soybean oil have ant-killing pesticides added and are broadcast at a very low rate of 1 to 1.5 pounds per acre (!) . Unsuspecting fire ants carry this tainted ‘food’ into their colonies. This ant-assisted delivery system targets workers, queens and brood (eggs, larvae and pupae) inside the mounds. Bait-treated mounds will eventually die out and will keep new fire ant queens from re-infecting the area but the approved method is to follow baiting with a one-two knockout punch.
Stage 2 Control- Spot-Treat Threatening Mounds
Fire Ant Hill 8 inches tall! 
After allowing the bait time to work (about 3 days to a week), Crabapple implements Stage 2 control. The second phase of fire ant control involves spot treatment of threatening mounds next to high-traffic areas such as playgrounds, sidewalks, dog runs and building foundations. This second step uses one of several approved products labeled for fire ants that kills them on contact. The choice of products includes drenches, granular products, liquid fumigants and injectable products. Your Crabapple Rep can recommend the best product for your particular property.
Contact Methods include:
  • Drenches requiring one to three gallons of the solution to treat a single mound 
  • Injectable products applied with a rod injector to the center of the colony 
  • Products that combine with water and volatilize into a “heavier-than-air” gas that sink into the mound and fumigates it 
  • Organicpesticides such as pyrethrin insectide that is harmless to warm-blooded pets and people or citrus, orange oil-based pesticides 

Better than 90% control in 10-12 weeks
UGA research shows that the use of this one-two knockout plan, first broadcasting a bait and then spot-treating problem mounds, produces a greater than 90 percent success rate within 10 to 12 weeks. Crabapple recommends repeating this 2-Stage program on a regular schedule, or else the area will become re-infested by incoming mated fire ant queens within six to twelve months. To keep your property free of fire ants, we recommend repeating the broadcast bait application every six months and spot treatment of individual mounds., Let your LandscapExperts Rep arrange to eradicate fire ants on your properties now. 
photos thanks to UGA Centre for Urban Ag, USDA, Geri Laufer
Digging Deeper 
A hilarious and fascinating (to landscape geeks) Post by Dr. Sanford Porter, a researcher at the USDA-ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, Florida mentions dozens more ways to kill fire ants.

And Deeper
A trailer about making the Giant Amazon Ants sequence in Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull 

1 comment:

  1. Just found this Video of an molten aluminum casting of a Fire Ant nest.