Monday, October 3, 2022

Is fall too late to apply fire ant controls?


Fire ants may be keeping a low profile due to drought, but they might still be working in your yard.

By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Oct. 3, 2022

Fast facts

  • Fire ant workers still actively foraging
  • Must apply when soil temps are above 60 degrees

LITTLE ROCK — Extension entomologist Kelly Loftin says he’s gotten fewer calls about fire ants this year, thanks to persistent drought.

However, that doesn’t mean they’re not still working in the background. They are still foraging, Loftin said. Loftin is with of the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

FALL FIRE ANTS — They may be keeping a low profile with drought conditions, but they could be active.  File photo taken January 2014 in Pulaski County. (U of A System Division of Agriculture photo by Mary Hightower.)

“One question that frequently accompanies a fall fire ant call is: Can I apply fire ant baits this time of year?” he said. “With a few precautions, the answer is yes — as long as temperatures do not get too cool, baiting fire ants in the fall is very effective.”

Loftin said a good rule of thumb is to apply fire ant baits before Oct. 15.

“However, when the fall weather is more mild, fire ant bait applications can be effective well after Oct. 15,” he said. Fire ant baits should be applied when soil temperatures are 60 degrees Fahrenheit or above.

To see if fire ants are still active, place small pieces of hot dog or greasy potato or corn chips in the areas you plan to treat.

“Leave this food out for 30 minutes and then check back,” Loftin said. “If this food is covered in fire ants you know that they are actively foraging and application of a fire ant bait should be effective.”

Treat mounds or areas?

Should you treat individual mounds or broadcast bait over the entire area?

“The best answer is to broadcast if colony density is 20 or more per acre,” he said. If there are fewer than 20 colonies per acre, then treating individual colonies could be considered.

“When baiting individual colonies remember do not apply directly to the mound, instead apply uniformly from 1 to 3 feet around the base of the mound,” Loftin said. “Also, never disturb the mound prior to treatment.\

Do fire ants come indoors? 

Loftin said that on occasion, fire ants will forage indoors especially during dry conditions and people ask whether fire ant baits can be applied inside.

“The answer is yes, but, but in a very specific manner,” he said. “Usually, a good bait application outside and particularly around the structure’s perimeter will provide the control necessary to prevent fire ants from foraging indoors.”

However, Amdo Pro, Extinguish and Extinguish Plus can be used inside structures but only under very specific circumstances, he said. These three products are labeled for use inside structures but only in inaccessible areas such as cracks, crevices, wall voids, unfinished attics and crawlspaces of structures such as homes, commercial residences, commercial buildings and warehouses.

“Please consult the label for more detailed information on indoor use,” Loftin said.

Use of product names does not imply endorsement by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 

To learn more about fall fire ant control, and visit the Integrated Pest Management page to sign up for the pest management newsletter.

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.

About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.