Homemade Anti-Fire Ant Defenses That Work and Some That Don't Work

Result of being stung by fire ant.
Result of being stung by fire ant. | Source
If you see this on or near your property, avoid this at all costs.
If you see this on or near your property, avoid this at all costs. | Source
Fireant "scout" leaves mound to seek food and water sources.
Fireant "scout" leaves mound to seek food and water sources. | Source

History of the Black Fire Ant.

The black fire ant, accidentally imported from South America into Mobile, Alabama, was first reported in 1918. Its distribution is still confomed to parts of Mississippi and Alabama. The red fire ant was imported around the 1930’s and has spread to infest more than 260 million acres of land in nine southeastern states, including all or portions of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma (Source: Lofgren 1986, Sparks 1995). This species has become very abundant, displacing many native ant species when abundant. It has the potential of spreading west and surviving in southern Arizona and along the Pacific coast north to Washington (Source: Vinson & Sorenson 1986).

Now that we have had a brief review of the history of fire ants, I need to tell you straight up that I am far from being an expert on fire ants. The only expert I knew around my hometown was Bobby Wallace, our County Extension Service director. He was a virtual cornucopia of information about the menace: fire ants. I talked with him once about "remedies" for these annoying creatures whose stings can be very painful, and Wallace, a conservative, laughed until he cried.

I had my answer on if he knew of anything I could make at home to fend off the fire ants that used to build their mounds at the edge of my yard.

Time to show fire ants who's boss.

Close-up of a fire ant.
Close-up of a fire ant. | Source
Fire ants are tireless as they are constantly building mounds, securing food and water and protecting the queen fire ant.
Fire ants are tireless as they are constantly building mounds, securing food and water and protecting the queen fire ant. | Source
Overhead view of a fire ant mound.
Overhead view of a fire ant mound. | Source
Fire ants may look innocent, but stings from thousands of them can cause severe problems for people.
Fire ants may look innocent, but stings from thousands of them can cause severe problems for people. | Source
Source

Attention Fire ant Victims: How do you get rid of fire ants?

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And to my surprise, more like my relief, there "are" some homemade anti-fire ant defenses. I am so proud to share them with you if you are one of the unlucky residents who live in the "danger" areas of where fire ants breed, multiply, and may be able to run "you" off of your territory.
So here we go with . . .

Homemade Anti-Fire Ant Defenses That Work and Some That Don't Work

  • Dawn Dishwashing Liquid - - mixed with vinegar. Laugh if you will, this one sounds hokey "right out of the gate." I tried this one. To my dismay, it worked great. I just mixed the two liquids together, slowly poured it down the main entrance of a fire ant mound and stood in a safe area to see the results. A few fire ants did manage to crawl out of their mound, but soon they passed away. "That" mound was now disabled, but the fire ants never quit. They only move elsewhere and rebuild.
  • Soda and Baking Soda - - sounds like something "Dr. Victor Frankenstein" would use to awaken his "homemade man." I read an article about this one and it does not work that well. A sidebar to this article said that just using baking soda would work better without the sweet-tasting soda. Baking soda, believe it or not, suffocates the fire ants. This is the extent of this anti-fire ant mixture.
  • Scalding Hot Water - - mixed with washing powder or liquid detergent. Actually, the scalding hot water annihilate the fire ants and any other insect that may be caught in the "collateral damage," (been waiting for months to use that term) and the washing powder may be just for added insurance. I did not try this one, but read about it somewhere on the internet.
  • Uncooked Rice - - the type that is thrown at newlywed's when they prance out of the church headed to enjoy their honeymoon. That type of rice. An elderly guy told me at our Walmart Supercenter two years ago that he just filled the main entrance of a fire ant mound with raw rice and in a day or two, the mound was dead. I would have tried this one, but my wife hates it when I waste food.
  • Gasoline - - is what some people in my neighborhood use to kill fire ants. Now this has to be executed with a lot of safety measures. Simply pour the gasoline down the fire ant mound and sprinkle some around the mound and let it go. Gasoline kills fire ants almost instantly. The more daring fire ant "assassins" in my neighborhood light a match and throw it into the gasoline to watch the "poof" when the gasoline ignites. And yes, (if you are wondering), adding this step does kill fire ants a bit quicker. But if you do use this final step . . .please be careful.
  • Brake Fluid - - yes, the fluid that allows your automobile to stop. The anti-fire ant article stated to just pour a cup of this liquid over the fire ant mound and in a day's time, the fire ants will be gone. I never saw this one in action, so use at your own discretion.
  • Powder Found In - - common fireworks such as firecrackers has been known to remove fire ants. But you have to take some time and remove the powder from four packs of any brand of firecracker. If you have enough, fill the main entrance to the mound and pour a small trail of the powder leading away from the mound. Then light the powder and when the fire meets the powder inside the mound you could hear a loud "boom" and no more fireants. You could name this one: "Firecrackers For Fire ants." Cute, huh?
  • Coffee Grinds, Used Tea Bags - - placed around flowers will get rid of aphids and other dangerous insects, but using these items on fire ant mounds is a gamble at most. To be honest with you. You can be my guest and try it. But let me know if it works.
  • The Number One - - fire ant killer is this one. If you have a farmer's outlet near you, buy a bag of 13-13-13 fertilizer. Scoop out two heaping cups of the fertilizer, sprinkle it down the fire ant entrance, and then pour Clorox on the fertilizer. Wow! You can actually feel the heat generated from these two items as they act like a flame thrower used in World War II on IwoJima. This one does work. I also used this one. And between you and I, it was fun too.

Personal note: I hate to kill any living thing, but by the same token I am not going to sit around and allow my house, belongings, including our car, to be overrun by these heartless insects.

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Comments 8 comments

MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 7 months ago

Friend Kenneth, We have been very badly bitten by the little buggers, and my spots always look just like your photo at the top. A fire ant bite contains the same thing as a wasp sting. Is it folic acid? It hurts as bad and as long as those big old ants out in West Texas.

The top of my underground house is infested with them. In fact, I stepped solidly on a mound yesterday when I got out of my car. Luckily, none of them got into my open-toed shoes. We went directly to our local big box store and bought a bag of Spectracide. It is the only remedy we've used, among many, that actually got rid of them for a season. Anything else, they just move on to another hole.

Years ago, they got into our house and made our pets miserable. For obvious reasons, we couldn't use poisons. A friend suggested that they wouldn't cross cinnamon, and she gave me a big bag she had bought somewhere at a big discount. We put it in and around the hole they were coming through, and they marched right through it back into the dog's foodbowl. Later I found out that what we buy today is not real cinnamon, but a cheaper substitute. I got some of the real stuff now that we cook with, and it is too expensive to use on fire ants. Anyway, good luck with your remedies, fellow sufferer. I'll stick with my Spectracide.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 7 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

MizBejabbers,

Thanks so much for your valued input on this topic. I have heard about Spectracide, and we have a farmers co-op and a Tractor Supply as well as a Walmart Supercenter, so one of these places should stock your remedy. The thing is, cash is a little slow these days, so I will have to build more birdhouses to sell.

One remedy I did not mention was not only side-splitting, but it worked. One Saturday years ago, it was just my daughter and I at home. My wife was working at her job back then.

So I set out to produce a Very Toxic Fire ant Deterant.

I mixed liquid Job's Plant Feed, Clorox; and some brake fluid. When the mixtures meshed there was this hissing sound in the plastic jug I was using.

Then a white cloud of smoke boiled out of the jug taking my breath and hurting my lungs and I almost fainted.

My daughter who was napping in her room, ran to the kitchen in terror wondering what had exploded.

I tried to tell her between gasps and coughs. But I took the homemade remedy and saturated the fire ant mound and instantly, my fire ant problem was history.

But I began to think that what if one night we were awakened by a thunderous stomping on the ground and I ran to a window to see what it was that was making such a noise.

It has to be Mutant Fire Ants with huge heads, bodies and stingers and out for vengeance for me destroying their home.

That was in 1991.

Today in 2016 I still worry about that tragic event.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 7 months ago

That is a wonderful story. I'm glad you weren't permanently injured. You need to write up your mutant ant story for a hub, like a short story or flash fiction.

Reminds me of the time my husband, an engineer who thinks he can do anything, was trying fusion in on the kitchen table in our greatroom. He worked it successfully a couple of times, and then the glass fruit jar exploded. Fortunately (for him) none of us, including the cats were injured. After I got through laughing at him, I told him in no uncertain terms that any future experiments were to be done in the garage. I didn't have to worry because it scared him so badly that he didn't do any more.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 7 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

MizBejabbers,

Wow-eeee! Thanks my Dear, Dear Friend not only for the hilarious comment (but do not tell your husband that I laughed. I do not want any trouble) but for the terrific hub idea. I will do that "if" I can locate some true "mutant" fire ants, but I can tell you this:

No hub is worth mixing all of that stuff up again. I, like your husband, have learned my lesson.

Thanks again for Our Terrific Friendship, your Appreciated Following and Wonderful Creative Talents.

Kenneth


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 6 months ago from Central Florida

Living in Florida, I constantly battle fire ants. I'll have to try the Dawn and vinegar method, although vinegar is also good for killing weeds, so I'm a little leery of putting it in the yard.

My neighbor's mother told me iodized salt works. I haven't tried that yet, but will give it a shot. It seems no matter what I try, they just move and build a new mound. Fire ants really are die hards!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 6 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hey, bravewarrior,

Thanks for the sweet comment. I always enjoy your comments, my dear friend.

I have a chemical mix that WORKS like this fireant mix.

If you have poison ivy, just mix a cup of regular bleach, one half cup water, one cup white vinegar and half cup brake fluid. I am serious. I had some trying to grow around my kitchen door and with one spraying . . .gone!

Try this but do not think that I am becoming a mad scientist.

Actually, I am quite happy. LOL.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 6 months ago from Central Florida

I don't have poison ivy in my yard. I don't think I'm allergic to it anyway - at least I wasn't as a kid. I could rub it and nothing would happen.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 6 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dearest bravewarrior,

You, my Dearest Friend, ARE a very Blessed woman. I mean it.

No one I know is blessed like this--immune to Poison Ivy.

Did you get my latest email about my birdhouses?

Peace.

Love,

Kenneth

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