Farmers in the southeastern United States are no stranger to fire ants. Even though we know they will make beds anywhere and everywhere, we are still surprised by some of the places that these pests choose to call home. It never fails that I manage to step in the most inconspicuous fire ant beds every time I visit our family farm in northeast Mississippi.
It can be frustrating when fire ants choose hayfields, grazing pastures, and equipment areas to call home. Savannah Tanner, an extension agent with the University of Georgia and member of its forage extension team, recently provided information on several chemical options to help combat fire ants in hayfields and grazing pastures. These are:
• Amdro, at a broadcasted rate of 1 pound to 1.5 pounds per acre
• Extinguish, at a broadcasted rate of 1.5 pounds per acre
• Justice, as a mound treatment only
Tanner notes that while these products can be used any time of the year, fall is usually the best season to treat fire ants. As the ants actively forage, they will carry the bait product into the mound to feed their young. These baits will provide slow-acting control, with effects showing in two to four weeks after application.
Fire ant colonies generally reach their peak capacity by the end of summer and beginning of fall. Colonies continue to expand throughout the spring and summer months. Waiting until fall provides the best opportunity to treat as many fire ants as possible with a single application.
Sometimes more immediate treatment in nonpasture situations, such as around buildings, is needed. To treat individual mounds for more immediate results, Tanner suggests using Sevin or a 10% permethrin solution. No immediate control products are labeled for safe use in hayfields or pastures. Always read the label instructions to ensure legal and safe use of any product being applied.
“Fire ants tend to be a pesky species for livestock and hay producers,” Tanner says. “Utilizing fire ant baits in the fall of the year can assist in reducing their peskiness.”
C.J. Weddle served as the 2020 Hay & Forage Grower editorial intern. She currently attends Mississippi State University, majoring in agricultural education, leadership, and communications. She grew up on a farm in Vardaman, Miss., where her family raises sweet potatoes and soybeans.