8 Best Ways To Get Rid Of Fire Ants

We've compiled eight of the best ways to get rid of fire ants. We know how much of a harmful nuisance these insects can be, especially when they nest in your garden or gain access into your home through AC units and HVAC systems. If you are a parent or pet owner, you shouldn't ignore these insects because they tend to be aggressive when their mounds are disturbed. Their stings, according to Healthline, feel like fire since they inject a toxic alkaloid venom called solenopsin into the victim. 

The good news is that the presence of fire ants never goes unnoticed, as is evidenced by the large mounds they build outdoors. These nests are irregularly shaped, flattened at the top, and between 2 to 4 square feet in size. Fortunately, we know how to eliminate these dangerous pests. Whether you want chemical-free methods or don't mind using chemicals, we've got great DIY solutions you can try.

1. Boiling water

The cheapest and most organic way to eliminate a fire ant infestation in your garden is to use boiling water. According to Texas A&M University, pouring 2 to 3 gallons of boiling water on their mound nests can solve your fire ant problem. Though this method works about 60% of the time, you can improve its efficiency by pouring the boiling or hot water quickly, preventing the ants from moving to another location. 

Be careful when handling water at this temperature as it can cause scalds and kill surrounding vegetation. To prevent the latter, inspect the fire ant mound and transplant any outdoor plants that you can't work around. Pro tip: If you have fire ants inside your home, use an insulated stainless steel water bottle instead. The insulation will make the bottle safe to touch, allowing you to spray or pour its contents on the ant mound. 

2. Cayenne pepper

One of the best ways to get rid of fire ants is to use the cayenne pepper recipe from Premier Termite & Pest Control. To make this solution, you'll need hot water, four sliced cayenne peppers, and powdered cayenne pepper. Place your sliced cayenne peppers in a heat-resistant glass bowl, gallon, or glass jar, and pour about a quart of boiling water over them. Cover the solution, let it sit for 24 hours, and remove the peppers. 

To eliminate the fire ants, start by sprinkling powdered cayenne pepper around the mound or colony. Since ants detest walking over powdery substances, this action would seal them in, preventing them from escaping. You can now go ahead and pour your cayenne pepper solution into the mound to kill the fire ants. What we love about this recipe is that it not only kills the fire ants but makes their nests uninhabitable.

3. Dish soap

Here's another simple and effective way of eliminating the fire ant infestation in and around your home: Per MedicineNet, you'll need one part of dish soap and two equal parts of water. Pour both products in a spray bottle and shake it well. Locate the fire ants and spray the solution over them. How it works is that the chemicals in the dish soap destroy layers of the ants' exoskeleton, killing them instantly. 

Another way to use this method is to fill a shallow dish with the solution. Bait the fire ants by sprinkling sugar or placing sweets in the dish to attract them. If you have multiple fire ant mounds on your front lawn or backyard, combine 5 tablespoons of powder soap or powdered laundry detergent with 20 liters of water in a bucket. Mix well until suds form, and then drench the fire ant mounds with the solution.

4. Insecticide

Most homeowners agree that one of the best ways to get rid of fire ants is to use an insecticide. Not only does it kill fire ants instantly, but it's also effortless to use. For desired results, the experts at Pest Control Hacks say to target the queen by spraying the insecticide directly and deeply into the mound. They also recommend that you wear protective clothing to ensure that you don't get bitten by the ants, especially when dealing with a colony or multiple fire ant mounds.

If you have a fire ant problem inside the house, ensure that your insecticide is labeled for indoor use and registered to eliminate these pests. While liquid insecticides are effective, they contain fipronil and pyrethroids, which the rain can easily wash away. So, make sure to use the insecticide in the dry season, and follow the instructions to protect your pets and plants.

5. Ant Bait

This method consists of smearing pesticides on processed corn grits and coating them with soybean oil to create ant bait. Worker ants will take the bait back to the colony, which when the queen eats, killing her or rendering her infertile. 

While baits are highly effective, they are slow-acting and often achieve 80% to 90% control within several weeks to months. But the good news is that they contain low amounts of toxins and are best used to treat large outdoor areas infested with fire ants. Terminix recommends putting the bait out next to the mound in the late afternoon or evening, when worker ants hunt for food. Baits also work best in the warm season when the ground is dry, or when rain is not expected in 24 to 48 hours. Be sure to use fresh bait, preferably from the following brands: Raid Fire Ant Killer, Amdro, Logic, Siege, Ascend, and Award.

6. Boric acid

Boric acid is a multipurpose, naturally occurring substance that's an effective insecticide, antiseptic, neutron absorber, and flame retardant. It's one of the best ways to get rid of fire ants, cockroaches, termites, fleas, silverfish, rats, and flies, according to SF Gate. As an insecticide, it's a blue or white powder that when fire ants walk through it, it sticks to their legs and poisons them when they ingest it while cleaning themselves. 

To use, sprinkle borax directly on their mounds or follow foraging fire ants to find their indoor colony. Consider making boric acid sugar traps, which are a quick and sure way to attract the fire ants. All you need to do is mix boric acid with sugar or corn syrup. Combine well and pour the mixture where the fire ants gather. We recommend pouring the mixture over cardboard pieces to make cleaning easier as it's sticky and hardens over time. 

7. Diatomaceous earth

Food-grade Diatomaceous earth is the fossilized remains of aquatic phytoplankton that is mined in the sediments of rivers, lakes, oceans, and streams. It's a multipurpose substance that's highly coveted in various industries, thanks to how effective it can be. Diatomaceous earth consists of tiny marine organisms called diatoms, which have been ground into powder. The powder contains silica, a natural substance found in the skeletons of diatoms. Per Healthline, when fire ants walk over the powder, the silica scratches or removes the waxy outer coating from their exoskeleton, causing them to lose bodily fluids and die from dehydration.

Using diatomaceous earth is an effective method of eliminating fire ants since it targets the organ that retains water, ensuring that their bodies dry out. To get the best results, sprinkle the powder wherever you find trails and mounds of fire ants. You can find Diatomaceous earth at your local home goods and garden supply store.

8. Hire an expert

Don't get us wrong, the DIY methods to get rid of fire ants we've discussed are indeed the best ways to eliminate these pests. But sometimes, depending on the intensity of the problem, you may need to hire an expert. To do so, you need to know for sure that you have fire ants in your home or garden. Here are a few things that attract fire ants, according to the Western Extermination:

  • Filth: These insects hunt for food scraps so be sure to wipe down surfaces, clean up after cooking, and cover your kitchen trash cans.
  • Seal all holes: Colonies of fire ants are likely to nest in holes, cracks, and crevices around window sills, under doors, and in foundations. No matter how small, seal the hole immediately.
  • Unkempt outdoors: Keep your lawn tidy and clean out your backyard. Be sure to remove all weeds and prune your trees.

If all of your efforts to get rid of fire ants have failed, it's time to call a professional to solve the problem once and for all.