Local News

Fall months are good time to treat fire ant mounds

Posted September 16, 2014 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated September 16, 2014 7:09 p.m. EDT

— Thanks to a wet summer, local fire ant populations have been thriving in parts of the Triangle in recent weeks.

To get them under control, extension agents from North Carolina State University have been helping residents across the area learn how to properly kill the insects.

Charlotte Glen, who works with residents in Chatham County, says big, fluffy mounds of fire ants are a result of the wet summer.

"When we get rainfall, you will see the mounds pop up because where the ground is wet underneath, they're coming up," Glen said.

Unlike other ants, which tend to scatter when disturbed, fire ants like to climb. Often, that climbing may mean they head up a person's foot or leg.

"By the time they're on you, there are lots of them on you," Glen said. "So you're getting lots of stings all at once."

Glen says fall is a great time to treat ant mounds because the insects have started gathering food for winter.

Extension agents recommend staying away from products that kill the mounds quickly, instead using products that kill ants through their stomachs.

"The baits tend to be the most effective because they get passed through the whole colony, and they kill the queen," Glen said. "If you don't kill the queen, you can't get rid of the colony."

Bait should be sprinkled in a circle about 2 feet away from the mound. Within a few weeks or months, the bait will kill the colony.

Untreated fire ants don't die during the cold winter months.

"They go down deeper into the soil where the temperature stays more moderate and wait for warmer weather," Glens said.