Help! Hit Fire Ants Nest with Lawn Mower

bcabrobin Posts: 251 ✭✭✭
edited November 2020 in Pest & Weed Problems/Solutions

I ran the lawn mower over a Large fire ants nest this week, while fixing fence. Had it stuck for a while, but finally make it off with only a bent trailer tongue, but no bites! This thing is as big as the lawn mower. It's in the hay field and I put makers so we hopefully don't hit it again. I don't even want to think about that in a bale of hay.

Does anyone have a tried & true recipe to get rid of them? I found another small one outside the fence line. Does cattle swell up like we do if they get bite? I've been stung before (stepped in one in SC. I don't want anymore.


  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,276 ✭✭✭✭✭

    There was a thread on here about ants but I can't find it so I'm going to share a link about using Borax, sugar, and water for ant control. I have used this several times and actually just made more of it today. It works really well and pretty quickly. I've never used it for fire ants but this site says it works on them. You can find many different recipes online and on youtube. I've put in it containers with holes poked in them and recently poured some on an ant hill b/c the thread I can't find had a video in it where the person poured it on the ant hill. Maybe someone will link to that thread or reshare the video. I hope this works for you.

  • silvertipgrizz
    silvertipgrizz Posts: 1,990 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @bcabrobin I have them in my cattle mineral tubs I got after the cattlemen return them to the store..I plant in them. In the spring the nests of red ants were popping up all over my yard and the neighbors yards.

    I pondered over it for a month or so and decided, in an effort to avoid pesticides and to, in a form, save some time and money..that I am going to drown them. It occured to me after the last couple heavy rains we have had here, and the tub count that had ants in them dropped significantly..The tubs that had, and then had not the ants...were the ones with the higher drain holes, ie they drowned and now they are none. I still have them in a few so I have a bin I started putting the soil with the ants in (also had standing water from the drench) and wqhen the soil dries out I"m going to reuse it after a double check. That is the only way I could figure out to do it without pesticides, or having to dump the soil and buy some to replace. This way I won't have to do that, and in the mean time I'm not going to have to rotate where I plant my tomato's for another year..we'll see how that part works...

    Added note.. when deciding where to put your drain holes in containers, the ants can come up through them from the soil if your drain holes are at the bottom of your mine are in the ones the ants were in en mass. convenient for the ants and way too easy for them to keep coming back.

    One last thought that is more directed to your specific location find..try mowing over it, again and again, targeting the hills every time you mow and in between. That is one reason they aren't in my house or in their many hills outside...funny thing I had just read an article that stated that they don't like being disturbed and didn't think much of it at that time..until I realized what that very thing had done in my yard..

    Please let us know what and how you deal with the problem, what works and what didn't as many on the group are having the same problem, or have had in the past..

  • VickiP
    VickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2020

    Well here is something that doesn't work. When I was a kid we had a huge fire ant nest in the desert right across the alley from our house. They were just awful and actually destructive. The last blow came when our rabbits had babies and the vicious things went into the nest boxes and stung the bunnies to death! Talk about horrifying and it was my sister and I that discovered it. Nightmares! Anyway Dad decided to get rid of them. Now, I am not suggesting this as a solution, it is not safe either for you or the environment but in the early 1960s folks were less concerned about such things. OK, he went out with a can of kerosene dumped it down the hole which was pretty large then he tossed a match in it! The whole nest/hill jumped up several inches and burned quite awhile. After it all settled down he dug it out and did it again, just to make sure. Fast forward two or three weeks and they were back. Cleaning up the mess and re-establishing their stronghold. He tried several times, they always came back. That nest must have gone many feet in every direction, I am sure he never got to the heart of it. We just had to accept the fact that they were there to stay. The only good thing about them is they dug some beautiful stones up from the ground and we would go out from time to time and harvest them for craft projects. Aw, memories.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,218 admin

    I can second what @kbmbillups1 says, at least, for regular ant infestations. I have used it on black & my daughter used it on small red ants. The key is water added to the mix. Without it, it doesn't work.

  • seeker.nancy - Central Texas
    seeker.nancy - Central Texas Posts: 795 ✭✭✭✭

    @bcabrobin here is a link to one of the treads:

    I will look - I think there is another one as well.

  • bcabrobin
    bcabrobin Posts: 251 ✭✭✭

    Thank you everyone for the ideas, I'll keep you guys updated on how the fight goes.

  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    @bcabrobin Do you live in Pennsylvania? That's what's sticking in my mind; sorry if I got that mixed up.

    From what I've read, there aren't any fire ants in PA- our winters are too cold. Not all red ants are fire ants. So, while the ants may be a nuisance, they probably aren't dangerous.

  • silvertipgrizz
    silvertipgrizz Posts: 1,990 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @bcabrobin Yes, I think it's the one by the youyuber MI Gardener. His reicpe has just enough water in it to make it thinck enough not to dissapate I think was the issue that too much water allows too lean a recipe for success?

  • bcabrobin
    bcabrobin Posts: 251 ✭✭✭

    Yes blevinandwomba we live in west central PA but these are not the nice little red ants we should have. These are "you walk near my nest I and all my friends will sting every inch we can get to, leaving burning, fluid filled welts. They are the size of black ants but have blackist butts

    We had something like these 15-20 years ago, pretty sure they had hitched a ride on something that had come from SC. Used stuff got rid of them. But these suckers are really mean. I thought they were going to over run the lawn mower they were all over the deck and tires but as soon as I got off the nest they dropped off. They did move the nest after I cut the top off and I did find a new one.

    I'm thinking they are like a lot of other things that are showing up in PA that are not to be in the area, like the alligator that was found in the sewage pool in southern Clearfield Co last year and the python snake in the winter, frozen on the side of the road. People are bring them in, knowingly or not and we get to deal with them.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,408 admin
    edited June 2020

    Myrmica rubra - European Fire Ant.

    This was posted in a Vancouver newspaper by a professor of biological sciences and a fire ant expert. So far they haven't migrated out of the Vancouver area but as climate change progresses we might see them progress right along with it. Not looking forward to having them in my area. But that's what 40 below is for!

    "If you've got them in a single raised garden bed, then it's the sort of thing that you might be able to deal with manually by digging them up, mixing them with boiling water, putting soil in the freezer, that sort of thing," he said. "But if they are spread through your city block, there is very little that you can do to control them." Rob Higgines.

  • Melinda
    Melinda Posts: 123 ✭✭✭

    Great gosh! Big enough for a mower to get stuck. That is nightmare material! I second borax.

  • Mark Baker
    Mark Baker Posts: 19

    Fire ants are common here in central Texas. If I have a big mound in the vegetable garden, I use a mixture of Orange Oil and Molasses. Use 6 oz of orange oil, 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses, a squeeze of liquid dish soap and water in a gallon jug. Pour it on the mound and the next day the mound will be covered with dead ants. If the mound is not near anything edible, I sprinkle some Amdro fire ant bait in an area that pets and livestock cannot get to. The ants carry the bait to the queen and that kills the whole mound. I try to leave a few small fire ant colonies around the house, as a defense against subterranean termites.

  • Owl
    Owl Posts: 345 ✭✭✭

    It doesn’t kill them but sure makes them move is using my garlic, cayenne, mint, orange essential oil and dish soap recipe on their mound. I’m in Alabama and we have reached a truce, they stay out of my gardens and I leave them alone.

  • Desiree
    Desiree Posts: 255 ✭✭✭

    I had a nest under my honeysuckle bushes that I hit when I was trimming long grass. The top was about a eight-ten inches high and the mound was about three feet in diameter. I have never seen so many ants come running to fight. I tried boiling water and that did nothing, I tried borax and that did nothing so I did finally sprinkle some Amdro Ant bait and that finally got rid of them from that mound and I haven't found another yet. I do live surrounded by agriculture fields so they may have moved there. All I could think of was a video I watched where they poured molten metal into an ant mound for what seemed like forever and then they dug it up to show the size and tunnels. That thing was HUGE! It just goes to show we have no idea of what's beneath our feet. :)

  • cass731
    cass731 Posts: 2 ✭✭✭

    The above post should have said non-toxic to people, animals and plants. It is very toxic to the ants! LOL

  • ltwickey
    ltwickey Posts: 369 ✭✭✭

    I use a garlic water mixture for everything from ants to catepillars to plant fungus.

    One head of garlic minced with food processor, place in mason jar with 2 cups water and let sit for at least 24 hours. Strain off solids and mix with enough water to make 1 gallon. Use on problem areas as needed. Store unused solution in the fridge.

    Good luck.

  • marcy_northlightsfarm
    marcy_northlightsfarm Posts: 103 ✭✭✭

    I have Field Ants in my pasture near where I planted some Hazelnut bushes. They will not let me check on my bushes. They swarm all over me and bite, it hurts! I will make up a few containers of bait and see if I can't at least knock down the population enough to get near my bushes. I'll try wearing boots with the pants tucked in and plenty of bug spray on. I hate using bug spray so if anyone knows of a good non-toxic ant repellent- please share.

  • Emily
    Emily Posts: 14 ✭✭✭

    Fire ants, two kinds: the tiny bright red ones that crawl all over and bite all at once; the large brown ones. Red ants are not sugar eaters; black ants are. I was a kid and we were poor. Moved into a long-vacant house with fire ants, the small kind, all over the yard, ESPECIALLY under the clothes line. We were the only white people in the neighborhood. Everyone else had a dog, we had a cat. The neighbors smirked at me when the ants bit me at the clothes line.

    Back then pre-Castro sugar went on sale for 3 cents for 5 pounds. I bought it even though we did not eat sugar. I had thirty pounds of the stuff on a shelf. Since that was all I had, I poured five pounds on each ant nest mound. Did it again when no more sugar was there on the piles. Bought a lot more sugar. Rain eliminated my piles, but so did the black sugar-eating ants. This went on for months until the black ants took over and the red ants moved back into neighboring yards.

    I was in 7th grade. A neighbor hollered at me about how 'we got rid of those ants for all these years, and now they are in our yards.' She was very upset and very hateful at me, a 'foreigner.'

    I kept buying that 3 cent sugar.😁

  • dwill207
    dwill207 Posts: 2 ✭✭✭

    I have treated a 4 acre wholesale nursey for years with bait. I use a non-toxic bait with Spinosad. Put out a few grains every other week, without fail. I take 10-20 steps and sprinkle out 3-7 grains. Never sprinkle on the mound (as seen on TV). You will not eat a wet potato chip, neither will ants, so put out baits after the dew is gone. The foraging ants will take the "special food" to the queen and she will die. The entire mound will cease to be active in about two weeks. This is why you put out bait every two weeks, as new mounds can start. It takes about 1&1/2 pounds of bait per acre where ant mounds are so infested that you can walk from mound to mound without touching the ground. So fewer ants means less bait. I have treated the nursery for a year on one pound of bait. This has never failed me, as nursery inspections can close the nursery until ant problems are over. Nothing works better (or cheaper) as I have tried all of the popular remedies. I teach organic farming and this complies with all regulations.

  • Loretta
    Loretta Posts: 1 ✭✭✭

    dwil207, Where do you buy the spinosad?

  • BrianHarriss
    BrianHarriss Posts: 1

    A little after I graduated from high school, back in 1990, but before I went to engineering school, I wanted to make a machine to eliminate fire ants without chemicals. I tried electrocuting them using a neon light transformer with jumper cables connected to copper probes. The ants just crawled all over everything with no apparent effect. I thought maybe I need a DC current that would get hot. But before doing that I remembered having success with 3 gallons of boiling water to destroy a fire ant hill that were stinging my pig and a small stable in the barn. I got $100 from each of 12 investors to help me build a contraption I came up with. I took my grandfather's old sprayer frame and got a local company to attach an LP tank to serve as a boiler and I mounted some LP burners under that LP tank. It was filled with water and I had a pressure relief valve a thermometer and the pressure gauge attached to the tank along with a valve connected to a steam hose at the end of the steam hose what is a half inch diameter pipe 3 ft long with many holes drilled in it. I would insert the pipe in the ant hill and open the valve of the 270 degree water. After about 10 gallons of superheated water had penetrated the ant hill which started caving in in a steamy muddy mess my work was done. A few hours later all the ants that were out foraging had returned and buried a bunch of dead ant carcasses all on the ground around the ant hill. There was no activity a week later. I paid my investors back over the next few months. A few years later a couple of them contacted me and told me they had seen my invention in the progressive farmer magazine and on CNN. Scalding boiling water does work on the ant hills if you get enough in there to cook all of the ants.

    But I am looking forward to trying spinosad, as the machine I built took 2 hours to heat up enough water to only do 8 ant hills. Renting a steam genie might be a viable option.

  • Scott
    Scott Posts: 1 ✭✭✭

    I've found something that has worked very well for me here in Tennessee. Fire ants have not been around our area for that many years, but they sure are a 'pain' when you accidentally cross paths with them. Several years ago a friend ordered a case of a product called: exx ant - the fire ant solution. ( it says 'all natural ingredients' I bought a quart bottle from her for something like $15.00, thinking it would last for a long time since it said to use 1-2 oz per gallon of cold water and "fill the ant mound until full, then apply to the surrounding area, preferably by spraying...." Well I mixed up a five gallon bucket and thought that would go a long way. Boy, was I surprised when I discovered some ant hills took over 10 gallons to fill! It worked very well, but my quart bottle didn't go all that far. I didn't want to have to wait to order more or pay that much for it and had noticed that it smelled like ammonia and pine oil. Not haveing anything to loose I made up my own batch of ammonia and Pine-Sol mixed 50-50 and used 2 oz per gallon. I don't know what else they might have had in their mix, but mine worked just as well, and for a whole lot less money! I have been using a product called Sun-pine, pine cleaner I got from Fred's dollar store that says it has 8.7% more pine oil in it than Pine-Sol, but Fred's shut down here so will have to find something else to use, probably Pine-Sol. Sometimes I have to retreat a nest, but most of the time one dose will do the trick. The best thing is to find the nests before they get too big and take a lot of the mix. I figure that just flooding the nest with the cleaner is what kills them, but what ever the case, it has been the answer for me at a price I can afford. I have even used it successfully on yellow jacket nests in the ground by filling them with the same mixture at night, then putting bucket over the opening with a weight on it to keep it tight to the ground and the next day or two I take the bucket off and up till now it has taken them out. Give it a try with your ants and see if it works, or order from the web sight above if you what the real thing.

  • spedia999
    spedia999 Posts: 1 ✭✭✭

    I have used Zep Heavy Duty Citrus Cleaner to kill fireants around my Central Florida home. Citrus oil is environmentally friendly over petroleum based solvents. The citrus oil melts the ants and it may take a couple of applications to get the queen, but I have found it very effective on the 18 inch round mounds that I get around my home. I'll make about 4 gallons out of the one gallon of Zep diluted with water. It's effective, but it is like whack-a-mole, they just keep popping up.

    I would like to know exactly what the bait with Spinosad that dwill207 is using. That sounds more effective.

  • tuliv4
    tuliv4 Posts: 17 ✭✭✭

    Very happy to read about spinosad. I’ve been looking for organic ways to treat ants/fire ants. As I really don’t want to poison my living environment in pursuit to control ant/fire ant populations.

    So far I’ve been using the boric acid, sugar and water recipe and DE (diatomaceous earth). While these methods have been helping, seems like there should be an even more effective option available. I’ve ordered some spinosad and will give it a try.

    Very sad to hear of so many places in the US that now have fire ants that didn’t have them before.

    Also surprised I didn’t find a high quality, informative website specializing in organic methods of controlling them, especially since this is effecting more places and people and how much those ant bites can hurt. There may be a great website on this topic but the end of net neutrality has had a big effect on my web search results. Anyone know of a great website on this topic?

    I’m grateful this community is here sharing information.