How to Get Rid of Fire Ants: A Complete Guide

Fire ants are mostly known in the southern parts of the USA, and everyone that comes in contact with them remembers their painful sting forever. These ants have one of the most powerful stings in the ant world and they can also cause an allergic reaction, so fighting them is a necessity if you find them on your property. The last thing you need is to have a health problem inflicted by their venom, this is why we made our guide on how to get rid of them.

So, how to get rid of fire ants? There are a couple of proven insecticides that can be used to get rid of the fire ants. Which insecticide you are going to use depends on where you are going to apply it, for example in your house or outside in the garden. This is why we have created separate methods for getting rid of the fire ants in your house and outside of it. Most commonly used insecticides for fire ants are in the dust (granules) or liquid form. Their compound is almost the same but the main difference is in the longevity or the residual effect. Getting rid of the fire ants can also be dangerous and you need to be well equipped for the confrontation with them and in most cases, this process is best suited for professional exterminators but we have still given you the option of also doing it all by yourself with our detailed guide later in the article. 

If you want to learn everything about the ways of fighting the fire ants, either by using insecticides or by a DIY remedy, stay with us till the end of the article. From this article, you will also learn all about these types of ants, their subspecies, and everything about their dangerous stings. You will also find out how to treat their stings and last but not least you will learn all about how to permanently keeping these ants away from your home. Let’s begin!

What Are Fire Ants?

Fire ants (Solenopsis Invicta) are also called red, ginger and tropical fire ants, and the name fire ant comes from their red body and a very painful sting. We also call them the red imported fire ants as they came to the USA around 1930 from South America.

What do fire ants look like? Their body is divided into three sections: head, thorax, and abdomen. They have three pairs of legs and a pair of antennae. The size of the regular worker fire ant varies from 2 to 6 millimeters (0.078 – 0.236 in).


• Fire Ants Habitat: Where Do Fire Ants Live?

Fire Ants Habitat Where Do Fire Ants Live

Fire ants usually build nests in the moist soil, near rivers, ponds, and regularly watered lawns. Their nests are hard to find because they are built beneath fallen trees, logs, bricks or rocks. If they don’t have a spot to hide their nest, they build it in open space in the shape of a dome with a height of up to 40 centimeters (15.748 in).

Fire ants are an aggressive and intrusive species so in most cases other similar species will just move away from their habitat. Fire ants are not keen on having company and they are prone to attacking others. Then they direct their attack to the abdomen when they bite the target just to get a grip on them and then they use their sting to inject the poison.


• Fire Ant Queens

There are cases of multiple queens per fire ant colony but mostly there is only one queen. Their reproduction rate is high, so they can enlarge their colony in a short period of time. One fire ant queen can lay up to 1.500 eggs per day and one colony can raise up to 250.000 ants.


• Fire Ant Lifespan: How Long Do Fire Ants Live

The life span of a fire ant is not that long when compared to some other species of ants. Fire ant queens live up to 6 years. Male ants die a couple of days after mating and worker ant’s lifespan can vary from a couple of weeks to one month.


Types of Fire Ants


• Red Imported Fire Ant

Homeowners claim that these ants are highly aggressive. They can build massive colonies with over 100.000 ants in mounds buried deep in the ground.


• Red Fire Ants

These are in fact red imported fire ants. There isn’t any source that claims that there is any difference between them.


• Fire Ants vs. Red Ants: What Is the Difference?

Well, there is no difference, these are just two names for the same ant species.


• Black Fire Ants

The only difference between black and red fire ants are in their color. Black fire ants can also be either black or dark brown.


• Flying Fire Ants (Fire Ants With Wings)

Fire ants have wings only in the same cases as other ants and that is when they are mating. Don’t confuse them for a separate species of ants as they are still fire ants.

Related: How Many Types of Ants Are There: Ant Identification Chart


Fire Ant Bites: Are Fire Ants Dangerous?

There is common disinformation that fire ants bite you with their claws, but truth be told they are using stings and not claws to attack. Their sting is one of the most painful in the ant world, and their venom can cause some health problems if a person is allergic to it.

Is it possible for a fire ant to kill a human? Well, there are documented cases, but those are very rare and it is highly unlikely for a healthy person to die of their venom. Most of the people who died from it are those with already fragile health, or in cases when multiple fire ants sting them.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful around them, but at the same time, you shouldn’t panic. Pay attention to these pests, try to keep your distance, but don’t be scared for your life.


How to Kill Fire Ants: Fire Ant Treatments

How to Kill Fire Ants Fire Ant Treatments

There are two different ways to fight fire ants: in your home and in the open space. Methods for fighting fire ants in these situations are completely different, so we will explain and discuss both of them.


Method 1: Getting Rid of the Fire Ants Inside of Your Home

If you are having problems with fire ants in your home the best way to deal with them is using liquid insecticides or sprays. If you decide to go with this option, be sure to read the instructions on the product because you should be using the correct dosage. Liquid insecticides have proved to be a good choice because they kill fire ants instantly, but the bad side of using them is that with them you are not going to get rid of the whole colony.

Ant killer sprays are enough to kill every fire ant that you see, but after some time new ants will take their place as the colony outside or somewhere close is still alive. This is why we suggest doing the following method as well.


Method 2: Getting Rid of the Fire Ant Colonies (Outside)

If you want to destroy the fire ant colony you will need to use ant baits in the form of granules. Ant killer baits have been proven to be the best choice in suppressing ant colonies. The only downside is that you will need to be patient and wait for the results.

How does it work? You place the ant killer granules in locations infested with fire ants and wait for them to carry the bait back to the colony. After the bait arrives in the colony other fire ants, including the fire ant queen will eat it and after that, the queen will die. This results in a complete collapse of their colony. With the queen disposed of, the colony will fall apart.

Insecticide granules are the same as the ant baits, administer them all over your yard or directly on to the mound and wait for fire ants to carry them inside of the colony. The result, in the end, will be the same as with the baits.


Fire Ant Killer | Best Fire Ant Killer Products

Fire ant spray and bait have different purposes. While insecticide in the spray is used on the ants that you can see in your house, bait is used for the long term solution.

The insecticide in a spray is used against ants in your home and it can deter them, but it is hard for it to deal with the whole mound because it can’t reach their queen.

On the other side, using baits will require some patience from your side, but worker ants will distribute the insecticide among the colony, and eventually, it will get to the queen. That is the safest and the most efficient option if you want to resolve your fire ant problem forever.


Orthene Fire Ant Killer

Ortho Two Step Fire Ant Killer with Orthene Fire Ant Killer Fire Ant Killer Broadcast Granules
  • Kills the queen and destroys the mound
  • No watering-in required
  • Treats up to 162 mounds
  • 6-Month fire ant protection
  • Kills mounds in 15 minutes

This product is used for destroying whole fire ant mounds. It is recommended for use on lawns and around plants. It doesn`t require watering and completely destroys the nest and kills the queen.


Amdro Fire Ant Killer

Amdro Ant Block Home Perimeter Ant Bait Granules, 12 oz
  • Baits and kills ants outside before they come inside
  • Kills the queen and the entire colony
  • Kills fire ants, carpenter ants and 23 other ant species
  • Creates a barrier around your home for maximum protection from...
  • Shake ant bait around the perimeter of your home to kill ants

This ant insecticide is used for controlling fire ant colonies and it contains bait and spray product. It is used in two steps: the first step is to spread the bait in the shape of granules all over your lawn or other open space area infested with ants. Ants take the bait into their colony and spread it there. After the majority of the colony is destroyed the second step comes into action. With the insecticide in a spray, you can target individual ant infestations and destroy them instantly.


BioAdvanced Fire Ant Killer

This is also a highly effective product for getting rid of the fire ants. It is easy to use, just sprinkle the solution on the mound or on your lawn and wait. It doesn’t require additional watering and is very economical.


Hot Shot Ant Killer Plus Aerosol

Hot Shot HG-4480 4480 16 oz Ant Killer Plus Aerosol, Pack of 1, unknown
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If you want to destroy fire ants in your house, this is a perfect way to do it. Hot Shot Ant Killer has shown great results when it comes to killing fire ants. Be careful when applying it indoors, keep your children and pets away, and read the instructions on the product carefully.


Fire Ant Bite Treatment: How to Treat Fire Ant Bites?


What Does a Fire Ant Bite Look Like?

Fire ant bite starts with intense pinching or burning pain right after you get bitten. The spot of a sting is easily identified by a blister. In the first couple of days after the sting, the spot continues to burn and itch.

Fire ants regularly attack in groups, so don’t be surprised if you notice several blisters in the same area. Just remember, don’t try to pop them, because they are only an allergic reaction to the ant venom and popping them can cause infections and scarring. The itching can last for weeks, so using ointment is necessary.


Fire Ant Bite Symptoms

In most cases, fire ant sting will heal without treatment. Those who have severe allergic reactions will feel the symptoms right after the sting. The common symptoms are:

  • Having trouble with breathing
  • Feeling of confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Swelling of the throat and tongue
  • In some cases loss of consciousness

Fire Ant Bite Remedy: What to Put on Fire Ant Bites?

Several remedies can help with the itching and swelling. The most common and effective remedies are:


  • Pressing the ice on the irritated area. This will reduce the swelling and ease the itching.
  • Antihistamine is a proven remedy for milder cases of allergic reactions.
  • Triple antibiotic treatment helps when the blisters are scratched or infected and will prevent further infection (it is necessary to consult with the doctor if you have an infection on your body).

Should You Pop a Fire Ant Bite?

No, never pop a fire ant bite blister because having an exposed wound can cause an infection. Try to resist the urge of popping it, because any type of infection can turn into a serious problem.


How Long Do Fire Ant Bites Last?

How long the fire ant bites are going to last depends on the person but on average it takes 4 to 9 days for the fire ant bite symptoms to completely go away.


Fire Ant Bites Itching a Week Later

In some cases, it is normal that fire ant bites are itching a week later because as we said it can take up to 9 days for the symptoms to completely go away. In some of the most severe allergic reaction cases, long term therapy is needed and it includes immunotherapy of the whole body. With this process, ant venom is injected into the body, and that way it lowers the level of sensitivity to the venom over time.


Fire Ant Bites on Dogs

Fire ants also attack dogs, so if you have a dog in the backyard that has fire ants, you should pay special attention. Their stings can cause problems for your dogs, such as vomiting, pale gums, and weakness, and if you notice any of those symptoms be sure to check the complete body of your dog for fire ants and their stings.

If you notice fire ants on your dog, always use gloves and a brush to remove them. For the protection of your dog (natural deterrents), you can use mixtures of peppermint or cinnamon. Apple cider vinegar can be used to ease the pain and swelling on the exposed areas of your dog’s body. The best course of action is to take your dog to the vet in order to prevent any complications.


Home Remedies for Fire Ants | How to Kill Fire Ants Naturally

There are several ways for dealing with ants using natural remedies, but be aware that these methods are not really that effective when we compare them with the already mentioned products.

  • Make a peppermint spray as it is proven that ants detest peppermint, so spraying them and the places they often visit can keep them away.
  • An effective home remedy can be created with cayenne pepper. Boil a quart of water and add four sliced cayenne peppers. Mix it and you have an anti-ant spray.
  • Mix lemon juice with water in equal measure and use it on places where you often see ants moving. Be sure to apply it regularly to have any effect.
  • A mix of dish soap and water is a proven ant repellant. Use it also with a lemon juice mix, as this combination has shown better results.

Natural Fire Ant Killers

There are three most efficient natural ways to deal with fire ants:


Orange Oil for Fire Ants

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The main element in orange oil that helps in the fight against fire ants is d-limonene and it kills ants by suffocating them. You can mix the orange oil with dish soap and also add some water, this mix is a great natural way to destroy fire ant mounds.


Diatomaceous Earth Fire Ants

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Diatomaceous earth is also a good way to deal with fire ants. You can use it indoors or outdoors and it kills fire ants by dehydrating them. The only downside with using diatomaceous earth is that you will hardly be able to destroy the whole colony because you would need to physically find their fire ant queen and use it against her.


DIY Fire Ant Killer

Use the combination of vinegar and lemon juice, this solution has shown success against fire ants. Besides this, a good DIY option is cinnamon, because of its strong smell and also when it gets inhaled by ants it starts to suffocate them.

Related: Best Natural Ant Sprays | Kids and Pet-Friendly Sprays


How to Prevent Fire Ants From Invading Your House

The best thing you can do is to avoid having a fire ant infestation in the first place. Yes, this may sound easy when we talk about it but it really is. Here are a few tips that will help you to avoid having fire ants inside your home or around it:


  • Keep your home and its surroundings clean, because fire ants are attracted to garbage and leftover foods.
  • If you have pets, regularly clean after them and try to avoid leaving any pet food around in the open.
  • If you have a compost bin, try keeping it sealed, to avoid fire ants infesting it.
  • Keep your food supplies well protected because ants will infest your home if they find a food source.
  • If that is not enough for you, you should call a professional service at the beginning of the season to check your home and propose means for deterring ants.

Summary

Fire ants are an aggressive kind of pests and they will not quietly go away. You need to choose a way to destroy or drive them away because they can build large colonies that can make your life miserable. Their sting is very painful and can lead to an allergic reaction, so don’t wait to start defending yourself.

The best way to fight them is by using insecticide, either as a spray or as a bait. If you want a long term solution we recommend using both baits and sprays. If you are not keen on DIY actions and solutions, the best way to get rid of them is to call professional ant exterminators. They will evaluate your problem and offer a solution.

If you want to be informed about all sorts of pest problems and solutions for them, keep following our site.


List of Sources

Fire Ants, CDC

Imported Fire Ant, The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA

Fire Ant Sting, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

Red Imported Fire Ant, University of Florida

Waldvogel M., Billeisen T., Red Imported Fire Ant, Entomology & Plant Pathology, NC State Extension, NC State University

Instruction Sheet: Whole Body Reaction to Fire Ant Bites, University of North Carolina Wilmington Abrons Student Health Center

Drees B., Medical Problems and Treatment Considerations for the Red Imported Fire Ant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Kruse B., Anderson J., Simon L.V., Fire Ant Bites