As the weather gets cooler, its fortunate that some of the crawling insects are beginning to die down. However, there are some insect pests that will be the most active during this cooling season when the nights get a little bit chillier and the days get shorter. Moreover, controlling some of these insect pests during the fall season can really mean a lot when it comes to the following spring season. Amongst a few of these insect pests, one of the most painful or annoying insect pests that can be controlled during the fall season are fire ants.
Habits of Fire Ants: A Seasonal Thing
There are said to be two main seasons of activity for fire ants. If one studied their behavior, they will easily see why they behave in such a manner. The peak activity seasons for fire ants are spring and fall. Of course, fire ants have huge social colonies. In order to survive, fire ants have adapted to and avoided the extremes of summer heat and winter cold by digging deep into the ground and almost “hibernating” during these seasons. Ideally, they begin foraging for food and actively mate in the spring, “hide” and continue breeding during the summer in the cool dirt, return during the fall to finish foraging for food, and then finally go into “hibernation” during the winter season.
Kill Fire Ants in the Fall
There are a few reasons why the fall season is the best season to control fire ant infestations. Making sure that you are able to treat them during the fall season will ensure that you will have the upper hand over fire ants during the following spring season.
- The most basic reason why it is better to treat for fire ants in the fall season is because, naturally, their colonies are closer to the surface. In the summer or winter, when the fire ants are exposed to extreme temperatures, they naturally dig deeper to avoid hot or cold weather. However, when the temperatures are less severe, like during the spring or fall seasons, they are closer to the surface. This is crucial when you are doing a direct mound treatment or using other formulations of fire ant killer like a dust, granule, or a contact kill aerosol spray. Since these types of treatments are only the most effective when the queen and the rest of the colony is targeted by contact, it is crucial that they are close to the surface rather than deep into the ground.
- It is during the fall season that fire ants are back into their regular activities of foraging for food. This means that its during this time that the fire ant baits that are put out in your yard or lawn will be the most effective. Yes, granted, you can use fire ant baits any time of the year; however, fire ants that are actively foraging for food in preparation for a hibernation means that results with baits will be optimal. Studies show that fire ants that forage for food in the fall will actually take the bait and bring it back to their nest within the first few hours of laying the bait out. During the summer and winter season, when the fire ants are the least active, the baits may lose effectiveness and by the time that they come back up to begin seasonal activities, the baits will no longer appeal to the working ants.
- During the fall season, fire ant colonies may be well developed, but they are still fairly young. Although fire ants will continuously breed all throughout the year, their prime mating season is during the spring. Once a colony begins breeding and has started to establish themselves, the mated queens then remove themselves from those colonies and fly away to establish new ones in a different location. So although they have become established, the fall colonies after their summer hideout remain quite young and still vulnerable.
- Finally, one thing that make fall a unique season and the best season to treat for fire ants is because it is the only season that is followed by winter! Late August all the way through early October is the ideal time to make sure you lay the ant baits out for the fire ants to forage on. It takes time for the baits to become active and may take up to several weeks for the baits to actually reduce numbers.
However, like previously mentioned, during the fall and throughout the winter, the colonies may be well developed, but they are still young. This means there are fewer number of ants. Moreover, extreme cold temperatures are traumatic for fire ants and very hard to escape. They’re extremely vulnerable and are unable to easily escape the cold temperatures that winter brings because there are too few ants to respond quickly enough. Since the tunnels are continuously giving up as they dig deeper and there are less ants to simultaneously gather food and rebuild tunnels, naturally, ant colonies become weaker and their chances of survival become lessened. By the time the following spring season rolls around, the fire ant colony will be too weak or almost eliminated for them to become active.
Also, for your sake, it’s much easier to wait for the ant bait to become active over the cold winter season rather than during the spring or summer when you are anxious to get back outdoors.
Just keep in mind that the winter season is your partner in attacking fire ant colonies. Making sure that you reduce their population during the fall season can really turn around and nip them during the winter season.