red ants

Asked April 8, 2015, 1:11 PM EDT

Moved here from NY and was dismayed to find red ant hills popping up on the lawn. With grandkids and grand dogs here frequently, I'm hesitant to use chemicals. Any advice? Thanks.

Horry County South Carolina

2 Responses

Unfortunately there are not any remedies for fire ant management that do not require the use of pesticides. The good news is that the proper use of fire ant baits is very safe. The active ingredients are low in vertebrate toxicity. For example one popular product the lethal dose to kill 50% of a population of ducks is greater than 2500 mg/Kg. This means a duck would have to eat in excess of 25% of it body weight. In addition, these products are used in small amounts and spread over large areas. Most baits are a 1 - 1.5 lbs per acre. The amount of active for this application is less than the weight of a dime. Most of the commercial bait products are very safe to use in areas where our kids and pets are active. By contrast the potential negative impact of fire ant and fire ant stings is a much higher risk. My recommendation would be to implement a regular bait treatment twice a year. Broadcast the baits while the fire ants are actively foraging. We have some excellent information on our fire ant page at http://www.extension.org/pages/30628/how-to-kill-fire-ants#.VSfkHWGCOrU

Thanks so much for your help.