In general, ants do not create problems in a yard unless their nests create unevenness that makes mowing difficult or creates an unsightly appearance. Ants are also able to become a problem for outdoor entertaining or children playing in the yard as some ants inflict painful stings. Finding an effective ant killer to eliminate ants from a yard is sometimes necessary.
Types of Yard Ants
Different types of ants are found on residential properties. Little black ants, pavement ants, larger yellow ants, cornfield ants and fire ants are just a few of the likely culprits found inhabiting a yard. Ants are social insects, so if only one or two are found, it's likely there are many more hidden below ground or in nearby woodpiles. To eliminate the colony, choose ant killers that not only work on contact but are able to be carried back to the nest.
Organic Ant Killers
Try non-chemical methods for eliminating ants in yards before resorting to more harmful chemicals that affect beneficial insects, wildlife and the environment. For a large nest, boil a few pots of water and pour it directly onto the mounds. This kills some ants and persuades others to move the nest elsewhere. Boric acid sprinkled around nests also is effective. Boric acid acts as a stomach poison in ants. It also damages the waxy coating on their bodies, which dries them out and kills them. Make an organic bait that ants carry back to the nest by mixing 1 cup of water, ½ cup sugar and 1 1/2 tsp. of boric acid. Saturate a cotton ball and place into a small jar. Punch a few holes in the lid and place near ant nests. They feed on the sugary bait and carry the boric acid poison back to their nests to kill the colony, according to North Dakota State University horticulturalist Ron Smith.
Chemical Ant Killers
For stubborn ant problems in a yard, try a chemical insecticide like carbaryl granules, diazinon or chlorpyrifos, according to University of Montana pest management specialist Sherry Lajeunesse. Remember that chemical insecticides kill beneficial insects as well. They also leach into groundwater and nearby waterways. Always use chemical pesticides according to label directions. Chemical insecticides are applied around, not on, the mounds.
Fire ant infestations are a particular problem in lawns because of the aggressive nature of this type of ant. Fire ants attack any threat to their nest, swarming and stinging the intruder. Children and pets inadvertently disturb nests and suffer painful stings. A two-step approach is the best method to control fire ant mounds in a yard, first drenching the mound with pesticide, and then applying baits to kill the rest of the colony underground one week later, according to North Carolina University entomologist S. Bambara. Baits are made of boric acid and a sweet material, or an insecticide such as spinosad or indoxacarb baits. A number of insecticides are used for the drench, such as deltamethrin, cyfluthrin, permethrin and bifenthrin applied to the surface of the mound and watered generously with at least 1 1/2 to 2 gallons of water per mound.
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