Of all the ants in the US, none is feared or loathed as much as the red imported fire ant. Fire ants can ruin a garden in no time at all, they are aggressive, they have a painful sting (especially if you are stung multiple times), but the serious problems start when they begin entering your home…
There are lots of supposed ways to kill/get rid of imported red fire ants, but most are ineffective or simply don’t work. If you want the methods that truly work, give these a go, you won’t be disappointed.
How to get rid of fire ants in the garden
Many folks believe that pouring boiling water over a fire ant colony with does the trick. This might work for a small colony, but the problem is that as the boiling water passes down through the soil, the temperature drops dramatically. What usually happens is the ants at the top get killed, but the ones at the bottom survive, and the colony will bounce back in no time.
The most effective way to get rid of fire ants is to make the following mixture and then drench the colony. Mix 1 1⁄2 ounces of orange essential oil, 3 ounces of liquid dish soap and 1 gallon of water. This will kill all ants that come into contact with it, and unlike boiling water, this method will continue to work over several hours/days. This method works because orange essential oil (actually all citrus oils) contain an extract, d-limonene and this extract kills imported red fire ants. To make this method even more effective you can try adding a few handfuls of molasses, as this will entice any ants to the mix, that was initially missed by the drenching.
Orange oil can be expensive, so another way to make this mixture is to use orange peels. You can actually also throw in some lemon and lime peels as well, but I would say go for at least 50% orange peel. To make the fire ant killing mixture, simply fill up half a 1-gallon container with the citrus peels and then top up to 1 gallon with water and leave for 4-7 days. Then just strain the mixture to remove the peels, add the liquid dish soap as above, and you’re ready to go. This method does require a lot of citrus peels, you’ll need to save them up, or you could ask a local restaurant or better yet, a juice bar, to give you their waste peels.
Another effective way to get rid of fire ants is to dig up the colony and remove or destroy it. To do this – dig out the colony, making sure you dig down below it to be sure to get them all. The usual method is to have several buckets ready to put the colony into so it can be removed/destroyed. Be sure to coat your shovel with corn starch or baby powder to stop the ants from climbing up. Also, you might want to tuck your pants into your socks!
How to keep imported red fire ants out of the home
The most important thing to do is to not give them a reason to enter your home in the first place. Don’t keep your garbage by the back door, and be sure to keep your floors and surfaces clean. Other than this, the most effective way of keeping imported red fire ants out is to use diatomaceous earth. Actually diatomaceous earth will also kill and prevent Spiders… Other Ants…Fleas…Cockroaches…Bedbugs…Earwigs…Silverfish…Millipedes…Centipedes… Diatomaceous earth kills all of these insects when it comes into contact with their bodies. It effectively binds to them and dehydrates them. Most will die within 24 hours, although cockroaches can take a few days.
When buying diatomaceous earth or DE, you want to make sure you buy ‘food-grade’ diatomaceous earth as other grades can contain additives which can be harmful. Food grade diatomaceous earth is harmless to humans and mammals, so it is safe to use around children and pets.
To use diatomaceous earth, simply sprinkle it in the areas the ants are entering and gathering in the home: doorways, windows, air ducts and behind cupboards and furniture. Keep this topped up and your home should be ant-free in 24 hours or so. If not, you are not putting the diatomaceous earth in the right locations. I should add that diatomaceous earth loses its effectiveness when it gets damp/wet, therefore it is not very effective when used in locations which are either damp or wet.