Ask The Bug Doctor about fire ants

One feature of my blog that is growing in popularity is the Ask The Bug Doctor tab. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t get at least a few questions or comments. I enjoy trying to solve peoples problems and it definitely keeps me on my toes. A lot of the questions I get are related to fire ants and home remedies or general knowledge. I thought I’d list a few of the most common here and answer them as I did for the readers.

Question; I heard grits kills fire ants but it doesn’t seem to work for me, what am I doing wrong?

Answer; It’s a common belief that ants will eat grits laid out for them and die when they drink water or the grits mix with body fluids because it swells up and they burst. The truth is ants don’t eat solid foods only liquids. (have you ever seen their skinny necks?) Ants do eat almost anything but first they have to turn it into a liquid and they do this by feeding it to the larvae in the colony. This stage of the ant is like a white worm with a huge mouth. The ants feed it the solids and the larvae in turn excretes it as a liquid which the adult ants can and do eat.

Question; Will taking a shovel full of one fire ant colony and throwing it on another make them fight and die?

Answer; While that may make some great afternoon fun for a curious kid there is no truth to this method. Some of the ants may tussle a bit but so would you if you were thrown into a crowd. The ants will soon separate and get back to hunting food and their own colonies.

Question; What is the white stuff I see when I kick open a fire ant mound?

Answer; That is usually two other stages of the ant life cycle you’re seeing. Eggs are often brought to the top of the mound for the heat or if it gets to wet deep inside the colony. Ants and many insects for that matter are temperature sensitive and often adjust to hot or cold. The other stage is the pupa stage which are also white but bigger than the eggs. This is the stage just before they emerge as adults and are most likely there for the same reasons.

Question; Will my dog die if he eats the bait I used for the fire ants?

Answer; While I encourage you to be careful using baits or any pest control measure for that matter your dog would literally need to eat several pounds of most baits on the market in order to get sick or die depending on its size. Different baits vary in toxicity and the levels are measured in LD 50 ratios. In other words the Lethal Dose (LD) to kill half of the test animals. For Amdro fire ant bait a 50 pound dog would need to eat 9 pounds to exceed the limit.

Question; Why do fire ants move when I treat the mound?

Answer; Unless you kill the queen the colony will move as part of its defense. Disturbing the mound whether with your mower or excessive kicking will cause this as well as insecticide applications. Caking the top of the mound with granules may end up killing many workers but sometimes just as many survive and escape using there under ground network of tunnels. It may take a day or two but they will soon spring up not to far away in their new mound.

Question;I heard club soda will kill the mound because it suffocates them, is this true?

Answer;I’ve read that too and the theory is this.

Simply pour two cups of club soda (carbonated water) directly in the center of a fire ant mound. The carbon dioxide in the water is heavier than air and displaces the oxygen which suffocates the queen and the other ants. The whole colony will be dead within about two days.

My problem with this however is that fire ants have been known to survive major flooding under water for many days with no air at all or by making ‘live rafts out of themselves’. They breathe through spiracles and can close them off and go into a suspended state until the waters recede or at last they die. Some reports even say 2 weeks so a couple days of club soda treatment shouldn’t be a problem. The most recent evidence of this ant surviving massive flooding is New Orleans and Mississippi after Katrina hit. The fire ant is doing quite well.

If you have any pest related question please feel free to use the tab and ask The Bug Doctor. I may use your question as I have here but nothing is public and your e-mail is not stored or used to automatically opt you into my newsletter or anything else. Just a friendly service that hopefully solves a problem and hopefully you’ll come back often for all your pest control needs.

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About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • http://www.MyEnviroCare.com Karl the BugMan

    Great article, I find it very humorous the various different home remedies the public comes up with rather then calling a professional.

    Karl the BugMan
    EnviroCare Pest Solutions
    Pest Control Columbus Ohio

  • http://www.MyEnviroCare.com Karl the BugMan

    Great article, I find it very humorous the various different home remedies the public comes up with rather then calling a professional.

    Karl the BugMan
    EnviroCare Pest Solutions
    Pest Control Columbus Ohio

  • The Bug Doctor

    I ran out of room to write any more!

  • The Bug Doctor

    I ran out of room to write any more!