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In The Garden

Controlling Fire Ants in Your Yard

Numerous fire ants on a piece of wood in front of a blue background Play Video

As red imported fire ants continue to spread across North Carolina and the country, you may be a bit more leery about any new ant mounds in your yard. We’ve all had that moment after we spot the little six-legged scavengers and wonder if the dreaded fire ant has set up shop.

To the average person, an ant is pretty much an ant, so how do you know if they’re fire ants? What do fire ants even look like? And most importantly, how can you get rid of them?

Homegrown shares tips and tools to help keep your yard fire ant-free in our latest segment, which features NC State Extension pest management specialist, Mike Waldvogel.

Fire ant mounds are usually a distinct dome-shape with no opening at the top, which are found out in the open.

As the name would imply, adult red imported fire ants can be identified by their reddish-brown coloration and shiny, dark abdomens. They range in size from about 18 inch long (workers) to around 13 inch long (queens). For more details on fire ant characteristics, check out eXtension’s Identifying Fire Ants guide.

Fire Ant Facts (and How to Fight Back)

If you’re unsure whether you have fire ants, take a specimen to your local N.C. Cooperative Extension county center.

Map highlighting North Carolina counties that are classified as quarantine areas for red imported fire ants in 2021.
To help slow down fire ants, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services maintains a fire ant quarantine in counties with established fire ant populations.

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