How to get rid of crazy ants

Steve Borel, LSU AgCenter

With the hot weather we see the highest numbers of crazy ants. Once the weather cools off we should see the numbers start to decline.

Most of the information for this article comes from Texas A&M, who have been fighting this invasive pest longer than we have. In infested areas, large numbers of crazy ants have caused great annoyance to residents and businesses.

In some situations, it has become uncomfortable for residents to enjoy time in their yards. Companion animals may, in some cases, avoid the outdoors as well, and wildlife such as nesting songbirds, can be affected.

Nesting and nesting behavior: Crazy ant colonies can be found under or within almost any object or void, including stumps, soil, concrete, rocks, potted plants, etc. Nests primarily occur outdoors, but worker ants will forage indoors, into homes and other structures.

Nesting occurs under almost any object that retains moisture. Food and feeding behavior: Tawny crazy ants eat almost anything; they are omnivorous.

One positive when dealing with crazy ants they do not have stingers. They are capable of biting (generally don't), but when bitten, they cause a minute pain that quickly fades.

So how do you get rid of them? Well, many of the typical control tactics for other ants do not provide adequate control of the crazy ant. Cultural control: At the foundation of any integrated pest management strategy are cultural control methods beginning with the removal of harborage such as fallen limbs, rocks, leaf litter, and just about anything sitting on the ground that isn't absolutely necessary.

Cultural methods can also include altering the moisture conditions in a landscape. Crazy ants prefer humid, wet conditions so reducing the amount of irrigation, repairing leaks, and improving drainage should help.

There are treatments available for this ant that offer temporary "buffer zones" using contact insecticides applied to surfaces, such as those containing acephate, pyrethroid insecticides (bifenthrin, cypermethrin, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, lambda-cyhalothin, permethrin, s-fenvalerate, and others) or fipronil.

These treatments are often breeched within 2-3 months post application. In closing, if you have high numbers of crazy ants now follow the above recommendations. Next spring start scouting early when the weather warms up and treat when numbers are low.

You may be able to setup a buffer zone around your property. Remember when using chemical control always read and follow the label directions.