Since its accidental introduction from South America to Mobile, Alabama over 60 years ago, the red imported fire ant has spread to infest over 260 million acres comprising most of nine southeastern states and Puerto Rico. Reaching Texas during the 1950's, the fire ant spread steadily across the state, dispersing naturally through mating flights, mass movement of colonies, and floating to new locations in flood water. Fire ants can travel long distances when newly-mated queens land on cars, trucks or trains. Shipments of nursery stock or soil from an infested area may relocate entire colonies or nests. The fire ant presently infests the eastern two-thirds of Texas and continues to spread westward.
Early efforts of county-wide fire ant eradication during the late 1960's through the early 1970's used insecticides such as heptachlor and mirex, but fire ants persisted and returned to areas previously treated. The last large-scale aerial treatments were applied to Madison, Kerr and Kendall counties in 1981 and 1983 using Amdro® (hydramethylnon) and Pro-Drone.
WHY DID EARLIER ERADICATION PROGRAMS FAIL?
Attempts to eradicate the imported fire ant in the 1960s and 70's, using synthetic pesticide baits and large-scale programs, failed. Synthetic pesticides fail due to the ant's biology because they are able to breed in a tolerance for the pesticides.
Biological reasons prohibit chemical fire ant eradication. The ants infest such an extensive area that a single treatment would take years and massive resources. Fire ants have a high reproductive rate and effective dispersal mechanisms. Thousands of reproductive females are produced per colony. Each year after warm rains, these females fly and mate with flying males. The mated females then begin a colony wherever they land. The ants eliminate competing insects and then rapidly overwhelm an area. Whole colonies can move, and in the multiple queen form, the colonies can split into many new colonies. The queen is protected from many toxicants, since she is only fed food eaten first by workers. If a poison works too rapidly, the worker is killed before the poison is passed to the queen. Finally, worker ants from well-fed colonies may not forage on a bait product, or a bait may not be as attractive as some particular abundant food source. Consequently, the ants may not get the poison.
Pesticidal reasons prohibiting chemical fire ant eradication. All pesticidal approaches may be expensive in time, equipment, or product cost. Although there are many products for red imported fire ant management, there are only three basic approaches. The first is the surface treatment using a residual contact poison. This approach is the least environmentally sound because long residual poisons must be used and the surface remains toxic for long periods. The ants may survive by foraging underground. The second is individual mound treatmentwhich involves the application of a large volume of pesticide to reach the queen. However, it is hard to manipulate large volumes of liquid, and treatment is more expensive and time-consuming. Colonies not eliminated may move or split into several colonies. The third method is bait treatments which use some sort of attractive substance the ants like to eat. Unfortunately, baits are not always consumed, and the baits attractiveness is short lived. Although baits can be applied as a mound treatment, their advantage is that they can be applied quickly over a large area. However, area-wide application can result in missed colonies. The pesticide must be slow-acting and effective over a range of doses, since the dose the ants get cannot be controlled (particularly important for baits). Further, the available treatments can reduce competitors, if present, which help control the fire ant.
Our treatment methods use nature's own defense to control fire ants on your property. Through our trade secret mechanical and botanical treatment program, we eliminate fire ant colonies on your property without a single drop of toxic pesticide. Get the help you deserve and call us immediately.
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