With more than 280 species in the world, fire ants live in remote parts of the world, as well as the backyards of frustrated homeowners throughout the United States, especially in the southeast. These small wonders are aggressive and pack quite a sting. When you want to avoid costly exterminators and harmful pesticides, first consider home remedies for fire ants.
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Identifying a Fire Ant
In their nest, this stinging species of ant varies in size – from 1/16 to 1/5 inch long. Their head and body are dark reddish brown with a darker underside. They build and live in mounds that can reach more than 15 inches high, 15 inches in diameter, and up to five feet deep . Disturb their activities or come too close to their nest and they are extremely aggressive. Fire ants will swarm over anything that poses a threat to the nest, including wild animals, pets, and humans. In some cases, an attack can result in a death.
In the United States, fire ants sting 20 million people in a year. They live in regions throughout Alabama, Florida, California, Kansas, Maryland, and Puerto Rico. According to Texas A&M University, fire ants cause the state of Texas an estimated $1 billion in damages on a yearly basis.
If a fire ant bites you, expect painful stings that eventually turn into a small welt. Multiple bites will result in clusters that resemble a rash.
Fire Ant Home Remedies
When it comes to controlling fire ants, the best approach is one drenched in patience. While some fire ant infestations take a couple of hours to calm down, others include weeks or months of work. It is important to treat or remove all fire ant mounds because missing even the smallest of colonies can result in a reinfestation that kicks off in less than one year. A couple of suggestions on how to win the battle against these blazing pests include the following home remedies for fire ants:
a) Target Only Fire Ants:
When fire ants become an issue, it’s common for homeowners to launch a full assault on all ants, but keep in mind – other ants contribute to the slowing down of fire ant populations, such as cutting down their food supply. Make sure you only target fire ants when using home remedies.
b) Dry Ice:
Slip into a pair of work gloves to safely insert a piece of dry ice into the top of a fire ant mound. It is your goal to kill the queen and most of the worker ants with this negative 110-degree approach.
During the winter season, you can still fight fire ants. With shovel in hand, dig up mounds and toss them downwind as far as possible. Refill the mound with new soil. After the sun sets and overall temperatures drop, the ants left above ground will die.
If you happen to have a bar of lye soap in your house, melt ½ bar and add to five gallons of water. Remember, when handling lye, it is important to wear rubber gloves and protect your eyes. Pour the mixture into a fire ant mound for a remedy that’s also safe for the environment.
Human urine has a knack for turning off fire ants. In some cases, pouring the liquid on and around mounds have encouraged some colonies to set up shop elsewhere.
If you don’t mind the scent or spreading of spearmint in your yard, plant the herb close to an infestation, which some say repels fire ants.
g) Hot Water:
If you only have one or two mounds in your yard, dig up the colony and deposit a 5-gallon bucket of hot, soapy water. Allow the water to sit for 24 hours. Hopefully, the hotness of the water mixed with the soap will scald the ants. Keep in mind that ants can survive underwater for up to 14 days, so the key to this method is using boiling hot water. When disturbing the nest, stay alert to prevent a swarm of fire ants from stinging you.
h) Remove Their Scent Trails:
Fire ants use scent trails to find their way back home. Right before a downpour and before the ants have returned underground, dig up the ants and toss them as far as you can. Make sure that you transport the ants downwind. When it rains, their scent trails will wash out and most of them will not be able to find their way back to their home. Oftentimes, this method must be repeated.
i) Fire Ant Bait:
If you’re looking for a homemade bait to lure fire ants to their end or make traps enticing enough for pests to bite, you can a) mix equal parts of borax and granulated sugar, b) create a mixture of corn syrup and borax, or c) combine peanut butter and boric acid (15%) in a jar lid.
j) Diatomaceous Earth:
Comprised of silicate shells belonging to microscopic sea creatures called diatoms, fire ants become dehydrated after coming in contact with the razor-sharp edges of these shell fragments. Damaging the exoskeleton and disrupting the waxy coating of the ants, they can suffer dehydration within 12 to 24 hours.