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Fire ants may be tiny, but they are fierce and pack a nasty sting. They look exactly like termites, with the only difference being that fire ants don't drop their wings when they die. Fire ants run rampant throughout the Southern United States, where the weather stays warm most of the year. They are most active from the beginning of spring until the end of December. They will stay active all year long if they have established their nests under concrete slabs, as heat is radiated from the house. Fire ant bait is the most effective means to prevent an infestation from occurring.
Baiting is a method regularly used to control fire ants in areas that are prone to infestation. It works best as a prevention method, as once an infestation occurs the bait can't exterminate them fast enough. When applied three to four times a year, fire ants will not be able to create new nests. Large, active nests must be drenched to get rid of the fire ants, then bait can be used to prevent them from reforming.
Fire ant bait works by slowly poisoning the colony. The bait must work slowly in order to be effective. When the bait is brought back to the mound it is tasted by selected members of the colony who deem it safe for the queen. If they die instantly, she will not eat it and the colony will continue to grow. When the queen ingests the bait and eventually perishes, the colony will dwindle and disappear.
There are two main types of fire ant baits: insecticide-based and growth regulator-based. Insecticide-based fire ant bait works by killing all ants, including the queen, that eat a sufficient amount. Those that contain growth regulator work by reducing the amount of viable eggs produced and preventing the development of young fire ants.
An insecticide-based fire ant bait contains one of four different active ingredients. They are as follows: fipronil, hydramethylnon, indoxacarb, and spinosad. Most fire ant baits will wipe out a majority of the colony in four to six weeks. Bait containing the active ingredient indoxacarb can have the whole colony under control within a couple days.
Growth regulator-based fire ant baits contain one of these four active ingredients: abamectin, fenoxycarb, s-methoprene and pyriproxyfen. Baits that use amabectin or fenoxycarb as their active ingredient take six to eight weeks to see results. Pyriproxyfen-containing baits and s-methoprene-containing baits take eight to twelve weeks for results.
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