Every year, homeowners and farmers square off with fire ants to go to war against each other for the rights to own the lawn, pasture, and garden. When warmer weather sets in, fire ants become more active and begin building new mounds and starting new colonies. At the same time, the homeowner starts spending more time outside and begins doing yard work and gardening. When each other eventually meet, another battle breaks out, and the annual war begins.
Red imported fire ants are originally from South America and accidentally came to the Southeastern United States on a ship through the port of Mobile in the 1930’s. Since then, this ant species has had an enormous effect on the southeastern United States, and continues to spread into areas of North America with mild climates and adequate moisture and food. Approximately 270 million acres in the southeastern United States are infested, including all of Alabama’s sixty-seven counties.
Winning the battle, not the war, against fire ants is the most important game plan a homeowner should have. Unfortunately, there is not a control method that will permanently eliminate fire ants despite all the numerous efforts to get rid of them. They are here to stay and will continue to be a pest problem until new, more effective, and long-term control methods are found.
However, there are a few strategies and methods that will help control fire ants in the lawn and garden areas. These temporary control strategies depend on factors such as the size of the site, its uses, how frequently and by how many people it is used, and the availability and expense of labor, as well as personal preferences. Generally, fire ant mounds can be eliminated on a site at any given time; the problem is that reinfestation from surrounding, unmanaged areas cannot be prevented. In fact, once fire ants and other predatory insects, including other ants, are eliminated from a site, reinfestation can occur without competition. Therefore, the battle of controlling fire ants on a site usually involves an ongoing effort.
Managing Fire Ants Workshop
To help you know how best manage fire ants on your property, the Tallapoosa County Extension office will host a “Managing Fire Ants Workshop” in Alexander City on Friday, April 27th. This event will be held on the campus of Central Alabama Community College in the mutli-media room located in the Betty Carol Graham Technology Center. Extension Agents and Specialists will be on hand to talk and show you how to control fire ants as well as update you on the latest pesticide products and control techniques. The workshop will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and include some product application demonstrations. Cost is $5; No Lunch. Participants may mail in the registration form off the Event Flyer or contact the Tallapoosa County Extension office at 256-825-1050 to register.
*This workshop has been ADAI Approved for 10 pesticide re-certification points for Alabama categories: D&R, OTPS/OTPC, and HPC/HPB.