So, you have fire ants roaming your home and garden. And you need to get rid of them without chemicals.
They freak you out.
And they bite. Hard!
In this guide, we’ll talk about:
- Why you have fire ants
- How to identify them
- What attracts them to your yard
- How to get rid of them naturally without poisons
- DIY remedies to keep them off your patio, lawn, and garden
- How to get rid of red ants in the house
- How to keep them away from your yard
- And more!
By the end of this page, you’ll have a good understanding of how to control and eradicate them.
Bookmark this article for easy reference- it’s quite detailed and you may want to return later.
And as always, ask me if you have any questions. You can post a comment below to ask specific questions about fire ant control.
Sound good? Let’s send those fire ants marching.
What’s a fire ant?
A fire ant (red ant) is that large, scary ant you see crawling in trails that you KNOW will bite you if you touch it.
These baddies ain’t messing around.
Sadly, when you have them infesting your home or yard, there are usually multiple fire ant mounds. And they’re difficult to get rid of
Fire ants sting but also bite to clamp onto your skin. These are ants you don’t want to mess around with because they’re aggressive and their sting hurts.
But for frustrated homeowners who are tired of finding them in their yard, there are some ways you can control and eliminate them without the use of harsh chemicals.
Fire ants (red imported fire ants) are classified as an invasive species in the US, China, Australia, and other countries.
They’re responsible for over 5 billion in damages in just the US alone. They’re responsible for crop loss, structure damage, and treatment for ant bites.
Here are other names that refer to the same or similar species:
- Ginger ants
- Tropical ants
- Tropical fire ants
- Giant red ants
- Killer ants
- Red ants
- Little fire ant
As you can see, they have many different aliases from all the myths and folklore surrounding them.
How can you tell if it’s a fire ant?
Fire ants have a distinct appearance and are easy to identify. As the name hints, they’re red.
Their anatomy is just like any other ant species with a red and black coloration. They’re protected by an outer exoskeleton. Fire ants have 6 visible legs with a copper-colored head.
Only the worker ants have an injector they use to puncture the wound with alkaloids. This results in the painful “bite” you associate with these aggressive species.
You can tell if it’s a fire ant just by their large ant mounds they use to hide. They can be as big as 18cm tall and up to 60cm wide.
The mounds are dome-shaped and hide in it during the hot period of the day when sunlight is out. Fire ants don’t like the shade.
They prefer to be out in your lawn or open fields. They rarely hide unless there’s a reason to.
A queen is the single ant that’s job is solely to produce more ants. The queen goes through a nuptial flight and mates. Then she finds a site, sheds her wings, and starts a colony of nymphs.
There can be more than one queen per group, to which a single queen will leave with a group of workers to start a nearby ant mound. Thus, fire ants are a migrant species. They take over entire yards and lawns.
You may also see ants with wings. These are alates, which are the reproductive class.
Both male and female alates exist and their sole purpose is to breed and continue the brood.
The female queens can fly up to a quarter-mile but can glide for miles in the air currents.
This helps them bud off to new colonies all over the area. Fire ant material that’s been infested also helps contribute to additional ant mounds.
Sometimes when you buy plant stock from the nursery, it may already be infested. Hay and grass also carry fire ants.
Fire ant life cycle
The lifecycle is just like any other ant species.
The queen ant deposits eggs which hatch into larvae. The larvae then pupate into workers (which are females) or males.
All worker ants are females (the ones that can sting you). The egg molts many times as it grows before it spins a cocoon that covers the pupae and metamorphosizes into an adult.
When you disturb the top layer of a red ant mound and see that “white stuff,” this is the pupa.
What attracts fire ants to your yard?
Fire ants are in search of food and water.
There’s no other reason why they’re specifically choosing YOUR yard to infest. They’re just like any other ant species (carpenter ants, army ants, tiny black ants) and looking for resources to sustain their colony of comrades.
Fire ants are difficult to fully eradicate.
You can’t kill them in one application, even if you choose to use commercial and killers. They need to be stopped at the source, which is their anthill.
Plus, even if you kill all the ants in your yard, there could be additional ant mounds in your neighbor’s yard which will just have them coming back all over again. It’ll take a lot of time and effort.
But with the right combo of DIY ant killer and repellent, you can control, manage, and reduce the number of fire ants on your property. No chemicals are needed.
Fire ants are omnivores and eat plant materials, animals, and dead bugs. They need protein as their main source of nutrition.
What time of day are fire ants most active?
Fire ants come out to forage when the temperature is warm. During the scorching summertime, they stay in their anthill to protect themselves from the hot weather.
When temperatures are around 70-90F, they’re out and foraging.
If you want to spray them with something, you need to do it when the weather is right. If it’s too hot or too cold, they won’t come out.
Are fire ants bad? Do they bite? Are they harmful?
Fire ants do bite. They’re often reported to bite when threatened or provoked.
This is why you should NEVER handle them directly and why you should ALWAYS use protective gear when doing any kind of ant remedy. If you don’t know what you’re doing, consult a professional exterminator!
Fire ants bite and will also deposit a burning acid on the wound. This is why it hurts so much. They bite to clamp onto your skin. You’ll feel the bite right away.
After they bite, they add acid to the wound by injecting it. It’s called solenopsin.
If you get bitten, treat it properly by disinfecting it to prevent infection.
Fire ants are an aggressive ant species similar to army ants and should never be provoked. They’re harmful to humans and pets because not only do they bite, but they also ruin your yard.
Worker fire ants are the ones that’ll inject you. The other classes don’t.
A bite from one of these ants results in a painful swollen blister. It hurts and will be itchy. Don’t pop or scratch the blister.
Where do red ants live? Where do they come from?
Fire ants live in an ant mound located somewhere in your yard. If you find them inside your house, they’re coming into your property through various cracks in the foundation, crevices in the walls, or through drain and plumbing outlets.
Since they’re small, they can fit through the tiniest of entryways.
Fire ants come from the outdoors in your garden. If you find the anthill, you can destroy them at the source to make your pest control plan a lot easier.
Fire ants may have many entrances to a single anthill and even multiple queens.
Even if you get rid of one ant mound, there are likely others. They infest your home and yard to find food which they take back to the nest. The food they bring back isn’t eaten at first.
They let it sit and harbor fungi and bacteria, which is their main food source.
This is the same for sugary foods- sugar provides them a steady source of bacteria to feast on, though fire ants prefer proteins over sugar. But the premise is the same.
Fire ants are found all over the US in subtropical regions.
Some of the most common states where they’re found include:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- Southern California
The RIFA is the fire ant that everyone hates. This is likely the type of ant you’ll find in your yard.
What does a fire ant mound look like?
A fire ant mound (ant hill) looks like a bunch of dirt, mud, and leaf litter clumped into a small area.
You’ll find this on your lawn or other dense foliage in the garden.
The dirt is usually mixed with a bunch of grass detritus bunched together in a small patch. It looks like someone just scooped a bunch of dirt and dumped it on your lawn. It’s not uniform, neat, or organized.
But it’s easy to spot on a well-maintained lawn. You’ll see fire ants crawling into and out of the mound, which makes it easy to identify a fire ant hill.
The top layer of the mound has a white material. This is the brood, which are nymphs (baby fire ants).
The tunnels are expensive and made to allow air circulation throughout the entire colony. They can go up to 10 feet in some species. This varies on the environment and soil type.
After it rains, you may notice that the ant mounds show up out of nowhere. Ants are always digging through the tunnels.
Does winter weather kill fire ants?
Yes, if the temperatures remain under 10F for at least two weeks. This will wipe out entire red ant colonies.
Can you drown fire ants?
A single ant will drown when dropped into water.
However, a group of fire ants will form a ball of floating ants and float. Thus, drowning them doesn’t prove to be a practical solution to get rid of them.
How do you get rid of red ants without chemicals?
You can control, manage, and eradicate fire ants without using any dangerous compounds or residues.
There are a ton of DIY home remedies that can make quick work of these critters that rely on things you already have around the home.
Try a few of them out and see what works for you. There’s no single best solution to get rid of fire ants. It usually requires a combo of different techniques to fully eliminate them.
As with any pest control plan, read all warning labels, and follow the directions on the package. Use common sense. Wear PPE. And stay safe.
When should you kill fire ants?
The best time to take care of those pesky ants is during the cooler days. They hide in their anthill when it’s too hot outside and they forage all day and night.
So the best time to find them is when the temperatures are cool or else you won’t find any to exterminate.
How to get rid of fire ants naturally
Here are a few different home remedies you can use to get rid of fire ants without the use of dangerous chemicals found in pesticides like permethrin, pyrethrin, spinosad, orange oil, etc.
You can kill fire ants naturally without the use of compounds found in toxic sprays.
The majority of these DIY homemade remedies utilize low toxicity compounds or are completely natural (some are organic).
Scan through the list and see what works for you. The best approach? Try a few out at the same time. Scale-up what works. Stop what doesn’t.
Regardless of what approach you choose, always read product labels, and use them as directed. Use common sense and caution.
Do your own research. And if you ever don’t know what to do next, consult a professional, licensed exterminator
Note: Red ants are an AGGRESSIVE species and WILL sting you in swarms when disturbed. If you provoke them or their mound, they’ll come out and attack you.
NEVER attempt to disturb, spray, or treat red ants without proper knowledge, equipment, and a consultation from a licensed exterminator.
Bites can result in painful swelling and allergic reactions. Fire ants are no joke and you must do your due diligence before attempting anything of any nature.
Will Dawn soap kill fire ants?
Dish soap is a proven fire ant killer. The dish detergent kills fire ants by dehydrating the ants.
Dish soap has a compound that destroys the outer shell (exoskeleton) of ants, which then makes them leak water and other fluids from their body. They’ll then die from fluid loss.
Dish soap also kills ants by suffocation. The strong tension of dish soap makes it hard to break through.
When ants are trapped under a bubble, they’ll suffocate over time because they can’t break out of it.
You can make your own fire ant killer using dish soap at home.
- Mix two tablespoons of dish soap into a quart of water.
- Swirl gently until suds form.
- Pour into a spray bottle.
- Spray directly onto fire ants to kill them right away.
You can scale up or scale down the ingredient quantities as needed. If you have a big infestation, you’ll want to make more so you don’t waste time preparing the mixture.
Dish soap is relatively safe to use around the house, so if you have ants crawling around your kitchen countertops, feel free to spray them down.
But clean up afterward. Just be careful about spraying on sensitive surfaces. And keep pets and people away.
Another note: You don’t HAVE to use Dawn. You can use any generic dish soap brand. Dawn just seems to be the king of DIY for these kinds of applications.
Regardless you’ll have an effective, safe, and powerful DIY home remedy for killing fire ants after you make the concoction.
Will vinegar kill fire ants?
Vinegar can be an effective way to repel ants.
Vinegar doesn’t kill fire ants but rather works as a natural repellent to keep them out of your home and garden.
They hate the strong scent of vinegar, so they’ll avoid areas that have sprayed it with it.
You can use this to your benefit as vinegar is cheap and a completely natural solution to repel them. No chemicals are needed!
This is easy to make- just mix equal parts of vinegar and baking soda and wait for it to fizz out. Then add water.
This mixture can be poured into the ant mound or used to disrupt the fire ant trail. If you’re using this outdoors where it won’t damage any surfaces, you can leave it out and let it dry. The vinegar’s smell repels ants naturally.
Make ant paste
You can make fire ant repellent by combining a few ingredients you already have lying around. This fire ant “paste” can be used around the home since it’s sticky or rolled into balls.
You can also seal cracks, block entry points, or even just toss some into the fire ant mound outside.
Here’s how to make some at home.
What you’ll need:
- Baking flour
- Boric acid
How to make it:
- Mix the flour and baking soda in equal parts.
- Add a few tablespoons of sugar (about 25% of the flour/baking soda used).
- Add water slowly until it becomes pasty.
How to use it:
- Use a stick or spatula and apply the paste around areas that fire ants are present.
- You can stick some into cracks, crevices, or other areas that fire ants are using to get into your house.
- You can also use this paste to seal foundational cracks or ant mounds.
- This paste gets hard in the sun or when dried out. It’s still effective even when dry.
- Keep pets and people away from the paste, as it has boric acid which can cause some side effects if touched or ingested.
- Use as directed. Read all warning labels and use PPE when making the paste and applying.
Will salt kill fire ants?
Salt can kill fire ants inside and outside of your home.
Salt can be mixed into a solution by making saltwater and then sprayed onto the ants. The salinity of table salt destroys the exoskeleton through dehydration.
Assuming that the ants don’t find a source of water to remove the salt, they’ll be killed shortly after.
You can use any regular salt to accomplish this. Either make a barrier of salt which forces the fire ants to cross, or make a salt spray.
You can sprinkle salt around areas that the fire ants frequent and use it to protect certain parts of your home and garden.
If you choose to make a salt spray, mix a few tablespoons in a quart of water. Then spray it directly onto any fire ants you come across.
Of course, do this safely wearing PPE as they may bite. The saltwater will kill them over time.
Will bleach kill fire ants?
Bleach can kill fire ants upon contact, but it’s a highly inefficient technique to eliminate an entire colony of them.
Bleach only can kill the ants it touches, but all the other ants will remain safe. Fire ants also don’t “carry” bleach back to the nest to make it compound and kill other ants in the area.
So it’s best used as a spot treatment and nothing more.
If you plan to use bleach as an ant killer, you need to be careful.
Bleach is toxic and dangerous (as anyone should know), so you need to avoid spraying it all over your kitchen, bathroom, etc.
Plus, you came here to learn about killing fire ants WITHOUT chemicals, so you may want to pass up on using bleach altogether.
But for a quick ant clean up, bleach works wonders. You can dilute it with water and then spray it directly onto ants. This will kill them instantly.
Clean up the dead fire ants after or else their comrades will come and eat them, which will only attract more.
Some people have considered pouring chlorine bleach down the anthill. This works, but again, is highly inefficient.
The bleach will likely make its way down the ant tunnels through the path of least resistance. This means all the other tunnels they dug out are safe.
So it’ll only kill a small portion of the ant colony (and probably make them angry).
Will hydrogen peroxide kill fire ants?
Yes, you can use peroxide as a pesticide to kill them. The nice part about this approach is that it also cleans as it kills. You still need to do a thorough cleaning afterward though.
After you burn up the ants, be sure to remove their remnants because it’ll attract other ants to the area. This is practical for quick cleanup of ant trails.
But beyond that, peroxide doesn’t do anything to really eliminate them entirely.
Do coffee grounds kill fire ants?
Coffee grounds have been rumored to kill ants, but I found the results to be inconclusive.
Coffee repels ants but does NOT kill them. This is all speculation that must’ve gotten confusing over time.
People confuse that coffee grounds kill ants when it’s only that they repel them.
You shouldn’t rely on this as a method to even remotely control a fire ant population.
However, you can sprinkle some coffee around areas that you see them active. It may help steer them in the other direction.
The results that I found online also showed the same thing. Coffee grounds over fire ant mounds proved to be ineffective against them.
Does Epsom salt kill fire ants?
Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, which contaminates their food they bring back to their nest.
The salt kills the bacterial spores they feed on from their protein-rich foods, which then eliminates their stable food source.
Epsom salt is also non-toxic and cheap for a bulk bag. You can mix Epsom salt and sugar in equal parts and add some water.
Pour into a container to use as a DIY bait station, or just into a bottle cap. Place a few around their ant mound for an easy way to kill them without chemicals.
You can also try other salts to see if it works. The point is that salt itself will kill the spores on their food so they can’t eat.
Yeast can be used as a completely organic way to kill fire ants.
Get some bread yeast and soak it in some warm water as if you’re making bread. Do the prep work and let it start to ferment. The yeast is supposed to be a bait for the ants.
Add some Epsom salt to it and then add some more water. Pour the entire thing on to the ant mound.
This will saturate the dirt and they’ll bring the Epsom salt back into the hill with the yeast. This will wipe out their food source.
Borax traps are easy to make and can be very effective at deterring fire ants when used properly.
This is a completely passive technique. Set and forget. And it’s very cheap to make at home with natural ingredients.
You can think of them as DIY ant trap stations. They work almost as well as the chemical-baited ones sold commercially at the hardware store.
All you need are the following:
- Jam or jelly
- A slice of deli meat
The trap just uses a small container as the station. You can use a small butter tub or cream chosen container.
Get a small knife and poke some hole into the lid and sides. Make them big enough for ants to enter, but not so big that the borax will pour out excessively.
Grab the borax and mix it with sugar in equal parts.
Add a few tablespoons of jam or jelly to lure the ants. Then mix again and pour it into the container. Fill it to ¾ of the way up. It’s okay if some spills out of the holes.
Add water slowly. The mixture will turn to a thick paste. Stir as you pour if needed.
Take the deli slice of meat and place it on top of the mixture. It should just be a single layer that doesn’t cover up the mixture. Cut it to just a few inches across.
The point of the meat is to lure them in and when they get into the trap, they’ll eat the borax, sugar, and jelly. The borax kills them as they eat the mixture.
The fire ants also carry the food back to the ant mound to store and share, which will wipe out the entire nest. You can make multiple borax bait stations and place them around your property.
Use it inside and outside your house away from food prep areas. Keep pets and people away from the traps. Wear PPE at all times when you contact borax.
Baking soda can kill fire ants by mixing with their acids in their body, but you’ll need a bait to make them eat it.
By itself, baking soda is not attractive to red ants. Mix it with some bait to make them eat it. You can use peanut butter, jelly, jam, or even plain confectioners sugar.
Baking soda can be a very effective and natural fire ant killer if you can make them consume it.
Equal parts of a bait mixed with the baking soda should do the trick.
You can make your own red ant traps like these
Will boiling water kill fire ants?
Boiling water is a surefire way to kill fire ants. No ant can withstand the heat from hot water and you can kill them instantly using this technique.
The best part about using water is that it runs throughout the colony. You can pour boiling hot water down a fire ant mound to wipe out anything it comes into contact with.
You may not kill the queen ant, but you can do some damage to their nest and kill a bunch of them.
Boiling water is best used outside for obvious reasons. You can also use it around the home, but this risks damage to your structure and baseboards.
Sinks, tiles, countertops, and more. Boiling water is a chemical-free and effective way to wipe out those pesky ants. Just be careful when you handle hot water.
Diatomaceous earth is a powdered form of fossilized marine phytoplankton.
This stuff is extremely deadly to ants. The powder is made of very fine, sharp crystals.
When ants walk over this substance, they get puncture wounds all over their hard outer shell.
Over time, the ants dehydrate because they leak precious body fluids through these cuts.
And when other ants come to eat the dead ones, they also get the same wounds because they eat the powder remnants. So it’s an effective cycle that kills ants over and over.
You can sprinkle DE around the home and yard wherever you see fire ants. The key is to put enough so that it sticks to their body and cuts them up.
But not so much that they know to avoid touching it. Use a fine layer that’s barely visible, but barely after you apply it. You can use a bellows or some other duster to dust the powder.
Soe common areas you can apply DE are cabinets, sinks, bathrooms, kitchens, basements, garages, garden, patio, patio doors, windows, under door gaps, around baseboards, cracks, crevices, around plumbing outlets, sewers, home foundation, and within each room of your home.
You can make a barrier using diatomaceous earth around your entire property.
Make one around your house and another around your yard. Any ant that wants to infest your property needs to walk over the DE first.
Also, be sure to use food-grade DE, not the one made for pools. Food grade diatomaceous earth can be found in organic varieties, so it’s free of dangerous compounds (people eat this stuff).
Diatomaceous earth is an easy and fast way to kill fire ants without harsh chemicals.
Fire ants are easily defeated by acidic lemon water. You can make your own or just buy lemon juice concentrate from the grocery store.
This homemade solution is completely natural and will even help disinfect surfaces while you kill them.
Lemon juice also removes pheromone trails so it’ll disturb any active ants that are crawling around your home.
All you need is water and lemon juice. Buy it from the store and get the natural, pure concentrate without any additives.
Mix equal parts of water and lemon juice. Then pour into a spray bottle. You can spray the ants directly with it to kill them upon contact.
The acidity of the lemon makes an awesome repellent that’ll keep fire ants away for some time.
Apply as needed, such as after a rain. Note that sunlight will affect the efficacy of lemon juice as a repellent. You need to reapply often if it’s used in direct sunlight.
You can spray ants to kill them or spray it around entry points to keep them out. Most pets like cats or dogs will stay away from lemon juice because of the acid flavor. But you should still monitor just to be safe.
If you find that the fire ants aren’t being killed by the mixture, add more lemon juice and less water.
Adjust as necessary. Lemon does damage household surfaces, so always test it on a small part if you plan to spray it around your kitchen, bathroom, or countertops.
There are some spices that fire ants dislike, and cayenne pepper is one of them. Most spices will work as a natural fire ant repellent, but cayenne pepper seems to be the one that’s commonly referred to in the online community.
Plus, it’s widely available at your local market and it’s cheap to buy in bulk. (You can also use pepper leftovers for cooking.)
You’ll have to make the pepper into a liquid form to use it.
Here’s the recipe:
What you’ll need:
- Bulk, whole cayenne peppers
- Cayenne pepper powder
- 2 quarts of water
- Small pot
- Spray bottle
How to make it:
- Pour the water into a small pot.
- Start heating the water to bring to a boil.
- Slice the cayenne peppers while the pot of water is boiling.
- Gently drop the sliced peppers into the boiling water. Add the powder pepper afterward
- Stir the mixture for 1-2 minutes.
- Turn off heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Pour mixture into a spray bottle after it has cooled.
How to use it:
- Spray the cayenne pepper solution around the ant mound and other areas in your home where you see ant activity.
- The pepper has a residual effect that remains for days after you spray.
- You can also pour the mixture directly into the anthill.
- Reapply as necessary.
Note: You can also use other peppers. Cayenne works, but there are spices and herbs worth trying.
The point is to make the pepper into a spray by capturing the powerful aromatic properties of it and using it on the ants to repel them naturally.
What spices do ants dislike?
Spices and herbs repel fire ants because of their pungent, aromatic odor. Although they appeal to humans (or at least, some of us), ants absolutely despise the scent of spices.
Thus, you can use them as an organic way of keeping them out of your home, patio, lawn, and garden.
Here are some spices that fire ants hate and can be used to repel them:
- Black pepper
- Ghost pepper
- Chili pepper
You can buy herbs and spices and sprinkle them around your home to repel ants. Remember to get areas like foundational cracks, crevices, crawl spaces, and baseboards.
Any entryway should be covered to keep them out. Some herbs can be sliced and placed whole.
Others can be minced and placed into a nylon sock (such as onion or garlic) to make an easy to clean, natural, fire ant repellent.
Does apple cider vinegar kill fire ants?
Apple cider vinegar can be sprayed directly onto ants to kill them.
The acidity of the apple cider vinegar kills them, unlike regular vinegar.
You can also use it to naturally keep red ants out of your home and garden.
Apple cider vinegar is an organic method to get rid of them. Just dilute it equally with water and spray away.
Wear protective gear and keep people and pets away.
Some people also use ACV to disinfectant fire ant trails, as the vinegar makes an excellent sanitizer for common bacteria.
Does cinnamon repel fire ants?
Yes, cinnamon can be used to repel all ant species.
You can buy cinnamon sticks or cinnamon powder- either works just fine. Just be sure that it’s real cinnamon. And the smellier, the more effective.
If you buy cinnamon sticks, stick them around the ant mound right into the substrate. You can also wedge them into gaps, cracks, or other areas they’re using to get inside your house.
Cinnamon powder can be sprinkled around the yard and directly into the anthill.
Since powder can be applied pretty much anywhere, you have the freedom to use it as needed. The powder can also be used indoors in your kitchen or bathroom as a barrier to keep fire ants away.
You can even toss some into the crawl spaces around your house.
Not only does the powder repel ants, but it also helps keep other bugs like oriental cockroaches, spiders, and other ants away from your property.
Cinnamon is a natural, cheap, and effective chemical-free means to repel fire ants. Plus, it smells amazing (says most people).
When to call a professional
You shouldn’t hesitate to call a licensed pest control expert from a reputable company if the fire ants are out of control.
Do your research and find a company that backs their services.
Many will offer free consultations and give you a plan of action along with a quote.
Some companies will also have green treatments, which focus on using compounds with fewer harsh chemicals to kill fire ants.
Consider asking about this over the phone when you first call them to save time.
How to get rid of fire ants in the house
Do you have them crawling around your kitchen or bathroom?
The best way to get rid of them in your home is to set up both ant killers and ant repellents.
There are a ton of them to choose from. For ant killers, you can make your apple cider vinegar spray, borax traps, use boric acid, or make baking soda bait.
Read about each one (outlined throughout this page), and start applying them. Take action to stop the ants.
There are also many different fire ants repellents you can use, such as vinegar, spices, herbs, coffee, and more. These are natural and you probably already have them lying around your home
Use the right approach: Set up both traps to kill the fire ants and repellents to keep them out of your home.
And be sure to get them at the source- find the ant mound and get rid of it. You’ll also want to do a complete inspection of your property and see where they’re coming in from.
The smallest crack allows them entry. Find them and seal them, caulk them, or repair them to keep the ants out of your house. For good.
How to get rid of red ants on the patio
If you have these ants on your patio, you’re probably afraid to enjoy a BBQ weekend on your infested patio furniture.
Start by killing the ants you see actively foraging on your patio. Use some kind of homemade red ant killers like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or Dawn dish soap.
Be sure to wear protective equipment if you plan to kill them because they will bite. NEVER attempt to kill fire ants without proper PPE. And always consult a professional before attempting any treatment plan.
After you kill the trail of ants, you’ll want to find out what they’re after. Are they eating food residue stuck on your wicker furniture?
Or are they looking for water puddled nearby?
Eliminate it. You can easily find out what the red ants are attracted to by just eyeing what they’re eating. Find out what they’re eating/drinking and remove it.
Finally, set up some repellents around your patio to keep them away.
You can use anything from essential oils to vinegar spray. Make sure it’s safe for your furniture so you don’t damage the finish.
How to get rid of red ants in the garden and lawn
Fire ants in the garden are common because that’s where you’ll find their ant mound to be hidden.
You’ll want to do a complete inspection of your yard to find it and destroy it. There will likely be more than one anthill, as fire ants are territorial and establish multiple “bases” to protect their domain.
This is why some people use a different domain of fire ants to fight another one- they’re highly territorial and will wage war on opposing forces
Regardless, there’s no secret to getting rid of them in the garden or on the lawn.
The process to get rid of red ants without chemicals remains the same:
- Find the anthill
- Set up ant killers
- Destroy it
- Set up repellents
You can use the techniques outlined in this guide. There are multiple ways to do this, so you’ll have to do some reading and find out which one suits your infestation.
Depending on what materials you have available and your skill level, you may be able to get rid of them within a few weeks. Or you may end up needing to get a professional to come to spray your yard.
Start by doing a complete scout mission in your lawn to find all the fire ant mounds. Note their locations and monitor for additional ones that are built.
Fire ants are resilient pests and will often return to the same ant mounds if given the chance.
You can have an infestation that lasts months or years. They’re not something you can get rid of overnight.
Once you locate the anthills, use some home remedies to kill the ants:
- Set up borax traps
- Use boric acid around the mound
- Use baking soda, boric acid, vinegar, and sugar traps
- Pour boiling water down the anthill
- Bake bait balls and place them around the anthills
- Make an ant paste and seal the ant mound
Monitor your progress over time and see what works and what doesn’t.
After you eliminate the ants, you’ll want to set up repellents:
- Sprinkle coffee grounds
- Spray essential oils
- Use cinnamon
- Put cayenne pepper around the area
There are tons of natural repellents you can use to keep the red ants out of your garden.
Repeat the process for any additional nests you discover.
What will eat fire ants?
Fire ants have a few natural predators that eat them.
You can use this to your benefit by simply setting up your garden to be attractive to these predators.
Of course, you’ll need to have them already native to your area as it doesn’t make sense to try to lure something that doesn’t naturally exist in your state.
Here’s a list of common predators that eat fire ants:
- Phorid flies
- Other fire ants that are less of a pest
Find out which of these species exist already locally. And find out how to attract them to your yard.
Fire ants don’t have a lot of predators by nature, so it’s very difficult to rely on this to get rid of them.
However, if you already have a few of these critters roaming around your garden, you might as well use them to your benefit.
How do I get rid of ants overnight?
You’re not going to get rid of fire ants overnight.
These are a highly invasive species and will take weeks to months to fully eradicate.
They’re also likely to return to your yard if the proper preventative measures aren’t used.
Fire ants are prevalent and persistent and can be difficult to control without chemicals. If you opt to remain organic in your approach, the most you can do is to try to reduce the numbers you currently have and repel future generations from infestation.
These ants are annoying, but nothing you can’t do something about. Right?
How do I get rid of fire ants permanently?
Red ants are very resilient and can infest your lawn, home, and garden for many years.
This makes it hard to permanently get rid of without using commercial pesticides, such as permethrin or spinosad. If you need to use a spray, look for something that uses spinosad as the main ingredient. It kills ants and is reported to be a natural approach.
Otherwise, you can set up ant traps around the perimeter of your property and natural repellents. Fire ants will make more than one anthill if you allow them to.
So act quickly and kill them. Get a plan of action. Then do the job. Assess your progress. And take it from there.
You should never be passive about this and “see what happens.”
Unless you don’t care about finding them in your house and having your lawn littered with ant mounds of dirt. Be proactive.
Here are some reference you may find useful:
Did you get rid of those pesky fire ants?
By now, you should have a solid foundation of what you need to know to kill and repel fire ants.
These pests are resilient and have a habit of forming their anthills in hidden areas which can be hard to see. The key is to find their hills and destroy them at the source.
Use a combination of DIY ant killer remedies and repellents. Be patient and persistent. These pests are hungry for your food.
Destroy the nest first. That’s the key to fully eliminating them. Find the nest and go from there and be wary of multiple hills around your yard.
Don’t worry about trails of ants you find in your kitchen. Killing them won’t do anything. Focus on their nest and destroy it.
If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment.
Or if you’ve dealt with fire ants before and you have some tips, drop some words of wisdom for our readers!
Lastly, if you think any part of this article needs updating, please let me know.
Tell a neighbor or friend if you found it (somewhat) useful! If you have red fire ants, your neighbor does too.
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.
2 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Fire Ants Without Chemicals (Naturally)”
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