To be so tiny, ants can cause lots of turmoil in our hayfields and pastures including equipment damage, employee harm (i.e. loading square bales), and just plain aggravation. Many times we as livestock or hay producers have what we consider more pressing things to attend to: fertilizing, armyworm control, or everyday life. When we put fire ants on the back burner, they can quickly become an out of control situation. The situation can quickly escalate and we can have dozens of ant mounds appear within an acre.
The best thing we can do to keep fire ants under control is to apply one of the three products UGA state Extension specialists recommend in hayfields and pastures. Those products include Amdro at a 1-1.5 pound per acre broadcasted rate, Extinguish at a 1.5 pound per acre broadcasted rate, or Justice as a mound treatment only. Make sure you follow all label directions and post-harvest intervals.
While you can apply these products at any time during a growing season, fall is usually the best time as the fire ants are actively foraging and will carry the baits into the mounds. In addition, the colonies have met their peak after expanding throughout the spring and summer months.
The fire ant baits are designed for slow-acting control. These products work when the foraging ants take the bait into the mound to feed their young. Typically, the bait products will begin working within two to four weeks after application.
While the baits provide long-term control, sometimes immediate fire ant mound control is needed. Maybe the mound is at a head chute or under your hay mower that you need to swap the blades on! In these situations, immediate control can be important. While no immediate control options are labeled for safe usage in a pasture or hay field, a 10% permethrin solution or Sevin can be used to treat a mound that is simply in the way around your barns or equipment. Again, make sure you read and follow all label instructions to ensure legal and safe usage of each product.
Fire ants tend to be a pesky species for livestock and hay producers. Utilizing fire ant baits in the fall of the year can assist in reducing their peskiness. If you have questions or concerns about fire ants in your pastures or hayfields make sure you contact your local county Extension agent for more information.