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Learn Your Lawn: Fire Ants

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What Are Fire Ants?


Fire Ants are a type of aggressive, stinging ant, commonly found in residential lawns in warm and humid regions, such as in the southern United States. They are reddish-brown in color and range in size from ⅛  to ¼ inch long. Fire Ants build large mounds in the soil. If disturbed, they will swarm out of their nests and attack anything they perceive as a threat, including humans and pets. Their stings can be painful, and can even cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. 


What Is The Life Cycle Of A Fire Ant?


The queen Fire Ant is responsible for laying eggs, and she can live for several years, producing thousands of offspring during her lifetime. Fire Ant males and females fly from existing colonies or nests to mate in flight. After mating, females can fly as far as 12 miles, looking for suitable areas to nest, but most land within a mile. All the males die after mating.

  • Egg Stage: Fire Ants start their life as eggs, which are small, white, and oval-shaped. Eggs are laid by the queen ant and hatch within 7 to 10 days.

  • Larva Stage: After hatching, the ant enters the larva stage. Larvae are worm-like and white, and they have no legs or eyes. They are fed by the worker ants with a protein-rich substance called brood food. The larva grows rapidly during this stage, and after about 6 to 10 days, they spin a cocoon around themselves and enter the pupa stage.

  • Pupa Stage: During the pupa stage, the ant is enclosed in a cocoon, which protects it as it undergoes metamorphosis. Inside the cocoon, the ant's body transforms into its adult form. The pupal stage lasts for about 8 to 10 days.

  • Adult Stage: After completing the pupa stage, the ant emerges as an adult. Adult Fire Ants are reddish-brown to black in color and have a distinct waistline. The newly emerged adult is soft and white, but its exoskeleton hardens and darkens within a few hours. The adult ant's primary responsibility is to work, and it lives for about six weeks.


How Can I Control Fire Ants In My Lawn?

Fire Ants are difficult to control and eradicate, as their colonies can contain hundreds of thousands of ants. It’s a good idea to inspect your lawn regularly for Fire Ant mounds and to treat them as soon as possible to prevent the ants from spreading.


A thick, healthy, well-maintained lawn is always the best line of defense. This can be achieved through beneficial cultural practices, which include:

  • Core Aeration: Aerating your lawn can improve soil drainage and help reduce the likelihood of lawn diseases. This will also alleviate soil compaction and allow water and nutrients to penetrate deeper into the soil.

  • Fertilize Regularly: Regular applications of Weed Man’s specially formulated, slow-release granular fertilizer will help provide your lawn with adequate nutrients. These applications are timed specifically to avoid over fertilizing the lawn.

  • Watering: Under normal circumstances, you should be watering your lawn a few times per week for 30-45 minutes in each area. During hot and dry periods, most lawns should be watered as much as required to maintain its desired green color. Always water in the early morning so the turf has time to dry by nightfall.

  • Mowing: Maintain a regular mowing schedule with a razor sharp blade. Never remove more than a ⅓ of the grass blade at each mowing.


Recommended Mowing Height

Common Bermudagrass - ¾ to 1¼ inches

Hybrid Bermudagrass - ½ to 1½  inches

Centipedegrass - 1 to 2 inches

Zoysiagrass - 1 to 2½ inches

St. Augustine - 3 to 4 inches

Fescue - 3 to 4 inches


Your local Weed Man professional may be able to offer other solutions and recommend the best form of treatment that is available to improve the conditions of your lawn.