Monday, July 27, 2020

Red Imported Fire Ant

Horticulture Hotline 07/27/20
  Bill Lamson-Scribner

Ok. After a little diversion due to environmental conditions, I’m back to the stinging, biting insects. That is the good thing about writing a local column, I can write about issues that are right here in the Lowcountry. With the way things are going, I’m sure an article about armyworms is next.

Believe it or not….fire ants are very easy to kill and manage!  You will not eradicate them; however, you can manage them.  There are many products on the market that will kill fire ants.  Some products are more economical if you have large areas to treat, others do a great job at just killing fire ants, and other products will kill other insects as well as fire ants. 

If you have a large area (16 or more acres) the bait products are very economical (less than 15 dollars an acre) and effective.  If you have a smaller area, you can treat one acre for less than 25.00.  Depending on the amount of rain that we get this summer and fall, you may have to retreat in six months if you notice any activity.  Some bait products are designed to kill fire ants as well as other ants that are in your yard (carpenter ants, argentine ants).

It is best to spread the bait over the entire area once the soil surface temperature reaches 70 degrees.  You also want to keep the bait dry for 24 hours, so watch the forecast.  The ants must be actively foraging to pick up the bait.  You can determine this by throwing some greasy potato chips or some of the bait itself on the ground and come back in 10 minutes to one half hour and see if the ants are carrying away the bait or chips.  The bait products advantage is that it is low cost and effective.

Products containing bifenthrin (Bug Blaster) will give you long term control of ants as well.  With Bug Blaster you don’t need to worry about rain, or whether the ants are foraging.  Dr. Tim Davis noted that he was getting at least eight months of control with bifenthrin.  Bifenthrin products are best applied over the entire yard.  Bug Blaster’s biggest advantage is that not only will you kill fire ants, but you will kill army worms, sod web worms, fleas, chinch bugs, ticks (Lime disease), mole crickets, and many others. 

There are many choices on the market; the biggest thing is determining which product fits your needs. Extinguish Plus and Advion Fire Ant Bait are two of my favorite bait products. Bug Blaster is a good contact product. Notice I only recommend treating the entire yard instead of chasing them around with mound treatments (stinky,white powder). 
When it has been hot and dry, fire ants can be tricky and not so visible because their mound is underground. Don’t be fooled! They still bite!

Do you have areas of your lawn that look like someone mowed it with a dull mower blade running at half speed? Do blades of your grass have bite marks eaten out of them? Do you have army worms or sod web worms? Bug Blaster will get them too.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.

Bill Lamson-Scribner can be reached during the week at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply. Possum’s has three locations 481 Long Point Rd in Mt. Pleasant (971-9601), 3325 Business Circle in North Charleston (760-2600), or 606 Dupont Rd, in Charleston (766-1511). Bring your questions to a Possum’s location, or visit us at You can also call in your questions to “ The Garden Clinic”, Saturdays from noon to 1:00, on 1250 WTMA  (The Big Talker). The Horticulture Hotline is available 24 / 7 at