Get Ready for Fire Ants

You know which turf insect responds fastest to four days of constant rain followed by 80 degree weather? Fire ants. You may have noticed the mounds (Fig. 1) popping up here and there the last few weeks and by the end of this holiday weekend, they will certainly grow in size and number. When an area receives a lot of rain (2-3” in Raleigh over the last few days), fire ants in current mounds move closer to the soil surface, making them more noticeable and more likely to be encountered by a person or pet.

Fire ant mound
Fire ant mound, photo by D. Billeisen

Make sure to keep an eye out for increased activity – it’s projected to be in the low to mid-80s all next week – and make sure that ants are actively foraging before putting out any chemical applications (bait or broadcast). Place a potato chip or hot dog slice within two feet of a mound and allow it to sit undisturbed for 5-10 minutes. After a few minutes, it should be covered with foraging ants. For control, product application and selection can be confusing, so use this decision-making guide under our Resources tab on NC Turf Bugs to determine which approach works best for you. For more specific product information or additional information on fire ants, visit the fire ant page on Turffiles.