The Foolproof Way To Eliminate Fire Ants For Good

When you have fire ants in your yard, you run the risk of suffering dangerous stings and bites. These aggressive insects can swarm when you disturb their nests, putting children playing in a yard in danger. One fire ant can give you more than one sting, and having dozens of these insects on you can be extremely painful. One of the best ways to eliminate fire ants without applying poison or without calling an exterminator involves physically removing them by digging out the nest. This can be a difficult process that puts you in danger. If you do not do the job carefully, you could antagonize them, causing them to seek you out for an attack.

If you suffer stings, you could end up with blisters on your skin at the site of the attack within a few hours. This is an extremely painful attack that creates a burning sensation. You may also have swelling and a red mark on the skin. However, the most dangerous aspect of this attack is that the fire ants leave venom inside the body, which builds up over time.

Eventually, you could have a life-threatening allergic reaction to all of the venom, meaning you should seek medical care if you are feeling ill after multiple stings. Typically, fire ant stings will not result in a life-threatening reaction, but you should monitor the health of someone who suffers this type of attack for several hours afterward.

How to dig up a fire ant colony to eliminate it

Before digging in the area of the fire ant mound, you should put on protective gear and clothing. These insects grasp the skin with their jaws before striking you with their back stingers to inject the venom, so you want to wear gear that covers the skin. Start by wearing boots and tuck the legs of your pants into the top of the boots so the insects cannot reach your skin as they climb across the boots. Wear gloves, just in case you need to brush off the fire ants as they are crawling on you. You can use insect repellent as well.

Bring a 5-gallon plastic bucket near the mound. Dust the interior with a layer of baby powder, which will prevent the fire ants from gaining enough traction to climb out. Then, use a shovel to penetrate the soil in a ring around the mound. Once it's loose, use the shovel to pull the entire chunk of soil out and place it in the bucket. "Scoop up the colony — soil and all — in the bucket," Robert Puckett, assistant professor and extension entomologist at Texas A&M University, told Reviewed.

This process will cause other agitated fire ants remaining in the tunnels under the soil to pour into the hole you dug. Continue scooping them out with the shovel and placing them in the bucket until the fire ants are no longer appearing in the hole.

What to do with the fire ant colony after you dig it up

You have a few options for dealing with the fire ants now that they're in the bucket. Some people prefer to relocate them to a new place. This can be a difficult process, though, as most people do not want fire ants on their property. 

You also can kill the fire ants inside the bucket to eliminate them. One option is to pour a few gallons of boiling water onto the insects, which kills them effectively. You can repeat the process if a few of them survive. Another option is to create a mixture of a small amount of Dawn dish soap and water to kill the fire ants. You then can add this mixture to the bucket, which eliminates the insects when it strikes them. You also could take the entire bucket and place it inside a freezer for several days. The low temperatures should kill the entire colony, just as it would if the fire ants nested in an area that was exposed to harsh, cold winters. Be careful when using these processes to avoid washing away the baby powder, which may allow them to climb out of the bucket and escape.

Before going through all of these steps, you should be certain you have fire ants. These bugs often are reddish-brown and measure up to ¼ of an inch in length. The mound will be a few inches in height without any obvious entry holes.