Controlling fire ants on a site usually involves an ongoing effort, and is best referred to as fire ant “management” instead of fire ant “control.”
Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a systems approach to managing insect, mite, disease and weed pests. It uses a combination of the most compatible and ecologically sound pest suppression tactics to keep pest populations below levels that cause problems. IPM uses cultural, biological and chemical methods. The goal of IPM strategies for fire ants is to prevent or eliminate problems caused by unacceptably high numbers of fire ants, rather than eliminating all ants from the ecosystem. There is no one best method of fire ant management. The management strategy for a particular site depends on factors such as the size of the site, its uses, how frequently and by how many people it is used, the availability and expense of labor, as well as personal preferences.
Three sections on this site describe site-specific, goal-oriented management programs for areas where fire ants are a problem:
- Managing Imported Fire Ants in Urban Areas
- Management of Imported Fire Ants in Cattle Production Systems
To help develop your own fire ant management plan for either urban areas or cattle production systems see Management Decision Modules.
People use the term “control” to describe efforts to reduce or eliminate either individual ants, ant nests or colonies or numbers of colonies or ant mounds in an area. The term “eradication” is reserved for efforts to totally eliminate a species from a large area. The term “management” includes efforts to “suppress” or “eliminate” local populations of the ants. In some cases the ants are beneficial and efforts to maintain or increase population levels and such efforts are also included as a management option.
Drees, B. M., Calixto, A. A. and Nester, P. R. (2012), Integrated pest management concepts for red imported fire ants Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Insect Science 19(5).