The Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department sponsored a presentation on fire ant control July 8 taught by Bell County Master Gardener Gary Slanga at the Harker Heights Activities Center.
Slanga said the best and proven approach to managing fire ants is called the two-step method. This approach works best in fully infested areas where there are five or more mounds for each quarter-acre of yard.
An article in the Master Gardner newsletter states that fire ants are not merely red ants with an attitude, but are highly efficient and aggressive in the way they move and survive. They don’t always die. They pack up and move the mound somewhere else.
Reproductive fire ants have wings and will swarm in the spring and fall after it rains.
“You can see them come out of mounds and almost have a cloud-like appearance as they swarm,” Slanga said.
As many as seven queens can live in a single mound. A queen can lay 800 to 1,000 eggs a day and live up to seven years, producing about 2 million eggs in a lifetime.
The two-step method includes blanketing a bait insecticide over the entire yard between late August and mid-October, then treating individual problem mounds with an approved mound drench, granule, bait or dust insecticide, Slanga said.
“Make the ant problem a group project,” Slanga said. “Chances are your neighbors have them, as well.
“Find granular bait that you both agree on. Read labels carefully to be sure you are treating for fire ants and not other insects.”