Fire ants

How To Get Rid Of Fire Ants (Kill & Prevent Ants in Your Lawn & Home)

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Written By: Mark Marino

a Massachusetts Core Applicator License holder and owner/operator of Lawn Phix,

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Have you been struggling to kill fire ants around your home or business? If so, you are not alone. A single fire ant mound can have more than 200,000 members , and ‘bud’ into dozens of other colonies around the yard. Left to their own devices, these animals can quickly spiral out of control.

In order to get rid of fire ants completely, you may need to get creative. Here’s everything you need to know about how to get rid of fire ants near your commercial or residential property.

What Are Fire Ants?

Ants are a common species of insect here in the United States. Most species are harmless to humans and pets, save a few — including the red imported fire ant. This invasive insect hails from South America and has spread around the US like wildfire. Fire ant bites are no more painful than other ants, but their painful stings can still be felt days afterward. This is perhaps one of the best (if most uncomfortable) methods of identifying a fire ant colony.

What do Fire Ants Look Like?

Because fire ants are typically active during the late afternoon and early morning hours, it may be difficult to see them up close. Red imported fire ants range from reddish-brown to bright red in color, and are usually no more than 1/4 an inch in size. The abdomen of the fire ant is typically much darker than the head and thorax, giving them an iconic appearance.

Fire ants
Fire ants

Where Do Fire Ants Live?

Red imported fire ants have the ability to live almost anywhere, from lawns and gardens to the inside of the house. Most fire ants prefer living in open areas that receive lots of light, which unfortunately includes playgrounds, golf courses, and animal pastures.

Fire ants have a strange attraction to electrical equipment. Many homeowners can find a fire ant mound near or inside HVAC units, traffic lights, and other signal boxes. Many property owners proactively apply baits around these areas — just in case.

Identifying Fire Ant Mounds

One of the best ways to identify fire ants in your yard is by evaluating any active hills or colonies. A fire ant mound is generally made up of loose soil and sand, which may be flat or slightly lumped above the grass. Some fire ant mounds have clear holes in the center, while others appear to be a continuous expanse of raw dirt.

If you think or know that a fire ant colony is in your yard, you will want to start the elimination process right away.

fire ant nests on the ground

How To Kill Fire Ants

Getting rid of a fire ant nest near your property will take more than just a hope and a prayer. If you’re looking to eliminate fire ants using the fastest and most efficient methods possible, it’s a good idea to consider a holistic approach that utilizes bait products, broadcast treatments, and natural remedies such as dish soap or diatomaceous earth.

Below are a few natural remedies of fire ant pest control:

  • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the yard. This lightweight powder does not affect humans in any way, but microscopic shards in the powdery substances will quickly cut through an ant’s exoskeleton.
  • Pour three gallons of hot water (with added dish soap) onto the fire ant mounds in your yard. Research indicates that the hot water method is effective at least 60% of the time. Keep in mind that any vegetation that touches the boiling water may scald and die.
  • Use the power of spicy food to keep fire ant colonies far away from the home. Take a quart of boiling water combined with four sliced cayenne peppers in a glass jar. Next, create a circle of powdered cayenne pepper around the whole colony and pour the hot pepper water directly on the ant mound. The results should be close to immediate.

Here’s how to get rid of fire ants inside your property using insecticidal methods.

  • Liquid insecticide works very well on the average fire ant mound. Raid Fire Ant Killer is an excellent example. As always, don’t forget to wear protective clothing.
  • Dust insecticide is another excellent method of killing red ants, fire ants, and other ants that tend to create large outdoor colonies.
  • Granular fire ant baits help to treat fire ant colonies of all sizes. Developed from processed corn grits doused with soybean oil, fire ant bait is slow acting and best applied during the warm season. Extinguish Plus Fire Ant Bait is a great product for this purpose, as well as Talstar XTRA Granular Insecticide. Apply granular insecticide directly on the fire ant colony in question, or scatter the bait around individual mounds. After a few days to a couple of weeks, the queen will consume a large amount of fire ant bait and eventually die or become infertile.

If neither of these approaches works, or if you are struggling with a much larger fire ant infestation, it may be wise to contact a professional exterminator. Experts in professional broadcast treatment using the two-step method will be more than capable of eliminating a fire ant problem.

More Fire Ants FAQs

Still have some questions about how to treat or prevent fire ants near your home? Get answers to these frequently asked questions about how to manage or kill ants around your property.

What keeps fire ants away?

Use a combination of insecticides, natural treatments, and preventative steps to keep fire ants away from your home or business.

How do I get rid of fire ants naturally?

For a less aggressive and more eco-friendly alternative, treat fire ants by carefully removing attractant factors from the yard.

First, take an avoidance approach. Place sliced cayenne peppers into a spray bottle and coat any ‘food trains’ of ants you find in the house.
Next, try addressing the property with adequate lawn care. Trim back the entire yard to remove shady areas or standing water, including surrounding vegetation.

Finally, be sure to turn compost piles often and encourage aerobic breakdown, which will get to get rid of fire ant scouts or visitors. Scraps of fruits and vegetables will always attract hungry visitors, and if you are struggling to kill ants around the yard, a compost pile will only compound the issue.

What attracts fire ants in your house?

There may be some areas of your house that are naturally tempting to fire ants. Lawn overgrowth near the sides of your home is the largest attractant factor, providing plenty of shade, standing water, and places to hide. Any anthill in this area will try to take advantage of entry points, which may lead to worker ants inside your house.

Another common attractant factor includes frequent outdoor parties. Even tiny particles of food could attract a line of worker ants looking to feed their entire colony.

Fire ants often nest outdoors and commute to your bathroom or kitchen for accessible food or water. However, some severe infestations may develop into indoor colonies. DIY pest control is usually more than enough to get rid of fire ants completely, even in an indoor setting.

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Author's Note: this piece has been updated for accuracy since its first publication on
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Author: Mark Marino
My name is Mark Marino, and I am the founder, owner, and operator of Lawn Phix. With a passion for lawn care and turf nutrition for over a decade, I've dedicated countless hours to correcting soil and perfecting lawns. Today, my expertise, backed by formal courses at UMass Extension Pesticide Education, allows me to offer top-tier lawn care services and advice. I am a fully licensed and insured lawn care applicator in Massachusetts, specializing in comprehensive turf nutrition, weed control, and lawn pest control. My license number is AL-0053865. Contact me at [email protected] or +1 (508) 500-8402.

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