Fire ants and other yard ants can be an extreme nuisance. When trying to get rid of ants, it is important to understand what is necessary to permanently kill a colony.
Ant colonies have a very special and advanced social structure that allows them to live and thrive. One of the ant "classes" is the worker ant. If you see ants roaming outside of their colony searching for food, that is most likely a worker ant. While you can easily kill these ants while outside the colony, it will do no damage to their mound. There are thousands of worker ants born everyday!
The most important ant in the colony is the queen ant. She is the only ant that can lay eggs and spends most of her life doing it. Sometimes, colonies can have multiple queens but often times there is only one or two. Knowing this is extremely important because the only way to completely remove an ant mound from your yard is to kill the queen ant.
Now that we know a little bit about ant colonies, we can begin to look at what DIY ant killers do and do not work.
Destroying the Nest
There are a few DIY ant killers on the internet that target destroying the ant hill itself. This method can be successful but only if you are able to kill the queen.
First here are a few things that likely will NOT work:
- Pouring hot water on the mound. This technique can sometimes be successful in killing at mounds but since ants can live fully submerged in water for several days it is important that the water be at least boiling temp. Even then, it is likely the ants may survive. If you are going to try this technique you will need to repeat pouring the hot water on the mound multiple times. This can be fairly tedious.
- Pouring gasoline on the mound. This one does actually work but is quite dangerous and can destroy the surrounding soil so we do not recommend it.
- Digging the mound up. Sometimes just kicking the mound or throwing it around with a shovel can seem enticing but this will definitely not kill the colony. They will most likely end up rebuilding the ant hill in the same spot or just in another section of the yard.
Now, lets talk about a few DIY ant mound control techniques that DO work:
- Vinegar. Pouring large amounts of vinegar slowly over the mound for a few days is sure to do the trick. Similar to the boiling water you will have to do this for at least three days before seeing results. Unfortunately, this will also kill the surrounding plants and grass.
- Hot water and salt. According to Tipnut, using a large amount of salt in boiling hot water can kill ant mounds. Once again, this must be repeated for at least three days and may kill the surrounding plants.
- Boric Acid. You can pour boric acid powder directly on the ant hill. This will most likely kill the ant hill. We recommend mixing it with something sweet or yummy such as sugar or peanut butter so it is more enticing for the ants to pick up.
- Carbonated Water. We have not tried this tip out but according to Solution Stores, pouring carbonated water on an ant mound is extremely effective. This is works because the carbon dioxide replaces the oxygen deep in the ant mounds.
Hopefully when it comes to destroying the nest, we can save you a little time and money. Over the counter ant baits can be quite effective in destroying small mounds as well. If your yard has more than three hills we recommend calling a pest professional. It is highly likely that the multiple hills indicate that they are all one giant ant network! This means there are many tunnels and queens that must be targeted.