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Currently I live in an apartment so I don't come into contact with fireants all the time, but I do see them on walks, which has really opened my eyes to how prolific they are around here.

 

I'll be moving into a house with a yard sometime this summer and I have a feeling it would be helpful to know how best to deal with the obnoxious little buggers. I've seen ads for sprays and such but worry about toxicity around the dogs and myself, but other than just constantly destroying the nests, I don't have any idea how one would minimize their presence in a yard.

 

What do you all do? Have you ever had any problems with dogs getting into the nests? If so, what happened?

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I use Amdro Pro in my yard and pastures. You can't put it where you graze animals intended for food - but as long as you don't plan on eating the dogs you should be fine. :rolleyes:

 

The only dog I've ever had stung by fireants was my Lhasa - and that was twelve years ago when he was just a tiny pup. My dogs seem to avoid the mounds - or maybe it's just that they don't stand in one place long enough to get stung. :D

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Texi got bit by one the first week he was here. I had to pul the nasty little thing off the tip of his nose. What a grip! Since then he's peed on every ant hill he's come across. :rolleyes:

 

Where I know the dogs won't be, I use Amdro. It works pretty well. In areas where the dogs are likely to be I use instant grits. It doesn't work as well as the Amdro but it does ok and so far I haven't had a dog try to eat the grits. Typically Georgia doesn't mess with the hills, but Texi likes to sniff at them occasionally.

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In areas where the dogs are likely to be I use instant grits.

What? Really?

Does it have to be instant grits, or do quick grits work?

And really? Grits?

How do grits kill them?

(And I'm not making fun, I really want to know. I've got a mound in my backyard I was wondering what to do about.)

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Grits!!?? Me too! Got the dirty buggars all over the place at my house, and its not the dogs that get bit, but Me! Not to mention stepping in thier holes can cripple ya!

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According to the Clemson Extension Service

 

Question

Do grits really work for controlling fire ants?

 

Answer

The theory behind the use of grits as a fire ant management is the ants will eat the grits. Once in the stomach the grits will swell causing the fire ant to explode. Remember, however, fire ants do not eat solid food therefore this theory does not work.

Research plots have indeed demonstrated this method does not reduce fire ant mounds at all. This theory may have its origin in the fact that defatted corn grit is used as a carrier for most of the fire ant bait products.

 

But if you'll click on the link you can find lots of good fireant (or as we call them, Far-ain't) information on Clemson Ext. Service's RIFA pages.

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Back in the 80s when we lived in Alabama we used Amdro as well. It was just coming on the market. It really worked. The problem is that they eventually come back so it is a constant battle, except in the winter when they go underground.

 

Until you get stung by just one fire ant, you have no clue what those tiny red ants are like. Dogs aside, you have to battle the ants otherwise they get in your house. The first time I got stung was when I was in the dining room eating breakfast. The whole top of my foot swelled up.

 

Seed ticks, chiggars and fire ants are the scourge of the South.

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I've been stung 4 times since moving here last June - I guess I'm not as allergic to their bites as I just got small welts that itched for a day and then gradually subsided. My first two stings happened when I literally stood on a huge mound on accident - I felt a sting, looked down, and my feet were literally covered with the ants! It's a darn good thing I wear jeans and tall hiking socks when I go out in the woods as I only ended up with the two welts in the process of stripping off socks and shoes after beating as many off as I could.

 

Maggie seems to instinctively avoid the mounds, Z tends to be oblivious and I think it's just that she moves fast enough to not get stung.

 

Sounds like DE might be the way to go first. What's this about them getting in the house tho?! What lures them indoors?

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Remember, however, fire ants do not eat solid food therefore this theory does not work.

 

Don't know about fire ants anywhere else, but down here in MS they do eat them....I've seen fire ants eat on solid food.

 

Some of the solutions that we have used are grits, washing the majority away w/ a water hose (but they usually just move their mound), pour gas on the bed and my mom's fave....spray a can of RAID on the bed. :rolleyes: You can never really get rid of them all, or maybe we just have so many here that we've just learned to share property w/ them.

 

If you do get bitten, you can use the usual methods for bee stings to help which is put toothpaste on the sting or put chewing tobacco or wet cigarette tobacco on the sting.

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All I know is that where I put the grits (and yes, it has to be instant grits) the mounds are significantly less active. I was told to try it by one of the locals and I thought she was off her rocker. Like I said it works OK, but Amdro is better. Someone also told me that they only move their mounds one direction. That I don't buy.

 

I HATE these ants. I have horrible reactions to them. I got five or six bites on my hand one year and it swelled up so big that I couldn't open or close it. The ITCH!! The BURN!! Ugh... Usually I dab on either rubbing alcohol or Clorox (more local suggestions...). It hurts too but in a good way if that makes sense. In a pinch if I'm out & about I'll wipe on some marsh mud. Stinky but it helps. WhenI first moved here my reactions were very mild, but as time has gone on they get worse.

 

I don't think Georgia's ever been bit and Tex just the one time.

 

I've seen fire ants destroy small bird carcasses.

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Don't know about fire ants anywhere else, but down here in MS they do eat them....I've seen fire ants eat on solid food.

 

Like most insects, they "externally digest" solid food - remember "The Fly" with Jeff Goldblum? - before sucking it up as liquid. The theory with instant grits is that the ants will ingest the dry grits which expand on contact with stomach liquid and blow up the ant. But since food isn't taken into the body until it's already liquid, instant grits won't work. Sometimes people think it does, because after they've sprinkled instant grits on a mound it seems to go away - but actually, they've just disturbed the mound, causing the workers to move it somewhere else.

 

When you sprinkle ant bait, you have to be careful to put it at least six feet from the mound, or you'll disturb the mound and the ants will move before they find the bait.

 

Apparently diatomaceous earth won't work either:

Diatomaceous earth

Little crystals of silica are supposed to scratch the ant's cuticle so they dehydrate and die. Indeed, if you take a colony of ants and shake them up in bag with diatomaceous earth, about half die. But when you use it on ants outside they usually find ways to avoid it so not many ants are killed. They will not eat it in food and foraging ants do not track it into colonies where it might kill the queen or young fire ants.

The information above is from Organic Gardening which has some other non-chemical suggestions for getting rid of fireants.

 

I've been stung 4 times since moving here last June - I guess I'm not as allergic to their bites as I just got small welts that itched for a day and then gradually subsided.

 

Erin - be careful! I grew up near where you are, back when there weren't fire ants up there. Then I moved to the coast and got stung a bunch of different times the first few years I was here. When you're not used to having to watch out for the horrible little things it's easy to stand in mounds of them without realizing.

 

Anyway. I never had more than the standard little pimple reaction. Then last year, I put on a pair of shorts I'd left lying on the floor under my window. Unbeknownst to me, a trail of fireants had worked their way inside and were crawling through the shorts I'd left in their path. By the time I figured out what was going on - I'd just rolled out of bed - I'd got stung maybe eight or ten times. No biggie, I thought, it's happened before - till suddenly I couldn't catch my breath and everything started going dark around the edges. Apparently one can develop a sensitivity to the venom over time. Who knew?

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I'm also one of those that is allergic. Swelll up like a damn balloon and for days at a time, and the numbing pain, OMG does it hurt

 

. Last time I got bit, about a year and a half ago, I couldn't wear a shoe for 3 days. Luckily everyone at my work knows that I have allergy problems and not just hayfever.

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So, those of you who are allergic....does benadryl help keep the reaction down for you?

I haven't been stung that many times and the time I have, I got the small pimple things (which hurt bad enough) and I noticed that if I pop a few benadryl as soon as it happens, the pimple things are smaller and heal quicker.

I think if I were swelling up (or, you know, almost passing out) I'd start carrying an epi pen. Or at least a stash of benadryl.

 

Fire ants are evil little buggers.

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I have year round hay fever so my medicine cabinet is never w/out benedryl. The problem is that my system is used to it (and it makes me sleepy). I do keep alcohol and the cream benedryl around for when I get bit. But sometimes it seems like it is pointless. I just accept what I am and do the best that I can with what God gave me. :rolleyes:

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So, those of you who are allergic....does benadryl help keep the reaction down for you?

. . .

I think if I were swelling up (or, you know, almost passing out) I'd start carrying an epi pen. Or at least a stash of benadryl.

 

:rolleyes: I keep meaning to get an epi pen - I gave DH a pretty good scare last time I got bitten.

 

Curiously, I didn't swell at the site of the bites any more than normal. Just couldn't breathe and nearly fainted. After a few minutes, all was well again. So I didn't take any benadryl.

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Sally, you really do need to get an epi pen and keep it with you! If you're already having trouble breathing and feeling faint, your next reaction could be truly life threatening!

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The reason the DE works is because they avoid it. I sprinkle on the ant mounds here and they leave. If my yard was smaller, I would sprinkle the whole yard, but I have more than an acre. It may not kill them all, but they will leave.

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