HOUSTON — The imported red fire ant is a hassle for many Texans. People who live near bodies of water, however, may face a bigger problem than an occasional infestation.
Fire ants need water to survive, but using pesticides around these areas poses dangers of water contamination. However, taking simple precautions when using insecticides around ponds, creeks and other water sources can reduce potential harm to fish and other aquatic organisms, according to the Texas Agricultural Extension Service.
The Extension Service promotes the two-step method for fire ant control. First use a broadcast bait throughout the entire lawn once in the fall and again in the spring. Then, follow up with individual mound treatments in high-traffic areas such as playgrounds and walkways.
Fire ant bait products contain extremely low amounts of chemicals and can be applied near, but not directly to, water. To scatter broadcast bait safely, use a hand-held spreader while keeping your back towards the water. This reduces the likelihood that you will broadcast material directly into the water.
When treating individual mounds near water, be careful in deciding which product to use. Use products containing acephate, which are low in toxicity to marine life.
Be careful when disposing of unused chemicals and containers. When rinsing equipment, use the rinse water to treat additional mounds. Never pour the rinse water down a household drain or toilet.
For more information about controlling fire ants around the home, please visit the Web site at http://fireants.tamu.edu.