Treatment Programs

Home Lawns & Other Turf

Program 1: The Two-Step Method

This program suppresses ants in ornamental turf and non-agricultural lands, including roadsides. It is also suitable for pasture and rangeland, provided that the products selected are specifically registered for use in these sites. It is best suited to medium-sized or large areas, and the cost is moderate. This approach is not suggested for previously untreated areas with large numbers of native competitor ants and few fire ant mounds (20 per acre or fewer). The goal of this program is to reduce fire ant problems while minimizing the need to treat individual mounds.

Program 2: Individual Mound Treatments

This approach is best used in small areas of ornamental turf (usually 1 acre or less) where there are fewer than 20 to 30 mounds per acre or where preservation of native ants is desired. This program selectively controls fire ants, but rapid re-invasion should be anticipated. It generally requires more labor and monitoring than other programs and is not suggested for heavily infested areas.

Program 3: Maximum Ant Suppression Method

This program eliminates many ant species in treated areas. Its effects are generally more rapid than those of other programs, and it minimizes re-invasion of treated areas as long as the contact insecticide remains effective. However, it is more expensive, often uses more insecticide and has greater environmental impact. This approach is frequently used by commercial applicators.

Program Combinations

Any of the three programs can be used on specific sites within a managed area where different levels of fire ant control are desired. On golf courses, for instance, Program 3 might be suitable for high use areas such as putting greens and tee boxes. In fairways and rough areas, Program 1 may be sufficient. On athletic fields, fire ants must be eliminated, so Program 3 should be begun at least 6 to 8 weeks before athletic fields will be used. Program 1 can be employed to use less pesticide, provided treatments are initiated far enough in advance to allow for maximum control to be achieved with the bait product(s) selected. People with severe allergies to fire ant stings should use Program 3 for their lawns or consider using a bait on a calendar schedule.


For treating schools, daycares, playground areas and other child-sensitive sites, fire ant bait products provide one of the safer methods of control. The publication, Managing Fire Ants in and around Tennessee’s School, provides specific management suggestions for Tennessee and links to products registered for use here. In some states, special regulations may govern the selection and use of fire ant products on school grounds. In Texas, for example, all pesticide applications must be made by licensed applicators. Schools in Texas are further encouraged to use products that contain botanical-based, microbial-derived- or insect growth-regulator-based insecticides because of their extra high margin of safety. Appropriate bait treatments for Texas schools include formulations containing abamectin, spinosad, fenoxycarb, pyriproxifen, or methoprene. Appropriate mound treatments for schools include botanical-based insecticides containing pyrethrins, d-limonene, spinosad, or other natural compounds, which are good first choices for mound treatments in such sensitive areas. For greatest safety, use only formulations that are washed immediately into the mound and leave minimal surface residues. Laws governing pesticide use in and around schools are changing each year. If in doubt about laws governing pesticide use around schools in your state, contact your state’s lead agency for pesticide regulation.