Fire ants, also known as red ants, are stinging ants that can be found world wide. Originally imported from South America into Alabama, these ants have spread with relative ease across the entire southern U.S. to become a growing problem for homeowners and farmers. These ants are very resilient and will aggressively defend their nests from any invaders to include humans. Their sting is capable of killing small animals and can be fatal to those humans with severe allergic reactions.
Due to their resiliency, handling fire ants with a mere bait trap will likely be insufficient. That is why researchers out of Texas A&M University invented a special technique to deal with these invasive ants affectionately known as the Texas Two Step. The Texas Two Step as the name implies involves two steps known as broadcasting and drenching.
In step one you "broadcast" a non-toxic bait insecticide. Spread this insecticide in close proximity to the fire ant nests as well as their food source. The foragers will take the bait insecticide back to their nest and spread it into the general ant population. Over time a significant portion of the ants will eat the insecticide to include the queen ant. As a result the queen will become infertile or may die. This reduces the proliferation of the ants as the queen will no longer be able to lay eggs. This step should be performed during times of peak foraging activity in either the summer or fall. That will help ensure that the bait insecticide has the most prolific effect.
In step two you follow up the "broadcast" with a "drenching" using an organic liquid insecticide. This liquid insecticide should be applied liberally to each and every nest in your purview. This second treatment will effectively kill the remaining ants that survived the initial application of the bait insecticide. Fire ant nests are often hidden from plain sight under logs or similar obstructions so it is imperative that you locate and apply this final step directly to each nest or the ants will simply regroup to form a new nest in a new location. An alternative to the liquid insecticide is 2-3 gallons of boiling water. This will kill the ants that remain but is much less effective than the liquid insecticide. The boiling water also has the tendency to kill other vegetation such as grass or plants, so the organic liquid insecticide is generally the preferred method. This step can wait until after the winter months have subsided entering into the spring months. This will effectively eliminate the ants before they ramp up for peak activity during the summer months.