I've got around 8-10 fire ant mounds in my backyard, and a puppy that has recently discovered a love for digging in them. We haven't let her out in the backyard unsupervised for the past week since the weather started warming up and the ants are now active.

I tried using Spectracide Fire Ant Killer Mound Destroyer a few days ago. It kind of worked. I followed the directions to the letter, and waited for the ensuing ant apocalypse. As of today when I checked on the ant mounds most of the ants were dead, but there were a few dozen survivors milling around when I poked a stick in half the mounds. The Spectracide claims to kill the entire colony and the queen in 24 hours. :/ Does anyone have a better product to recommend, or another method of killing them? I'd prefer something that's relatively pet-safe, since the ultimate goal is to let our dog roam free in the fenced backyard.

This is somewhat related to How can I get rid of ants in an environmently friendly way?, but I'm not too concerned about environmentally friendly. Just something that won't be hazardous to pets a week or so after it's applied.

  • 3
    They need to die horribly. Try a nuke or flamethrower. =)
    – JohnFx
    Commented Feb 28, 2011 at 3:29
  • How about a couple M-80's!!!
    – Tester101
    Commented Feb 28, 2011 at 17:20
  • Many years ago my father poured kerosene into a bullant nest and lit it. Or maybe he used boiling water. I forget.
    – staticsan
    Commented Mar 1, 2011 at 3:54
  • @staticsan - I read about this too during my research, though it was not recommended due to the potential of starting an uncontrollable grass fire.
    – Tester101
    Commented Mar 1, 2011 at 17:34
  • 1
    Sadly, there's no real good way to rid oneself completely of fire ants. There's lots of money and research being done about them at TAMU, but the long and the short of it is this: fire ants are hilariously tough to remove because they have (1) Multiple queens, and (2) their mounds measure up to 16 cuft underground. They're smart, aggressive, and evolved. I would admire them if I didn't hate them so much.
    – Aarthi
    Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 15:21

6 Answers 6


If the product you used mostly worked, you may want to try a second application to wipe out the rest of the colony.

After doing some research there doesn't seem to be any tried and true solution to killing the ants (at least none I could find, I'm sure there are tricks exterminators use that they don't want to share), but most solutions seem to involve drowning the ants (in hot possibly soapy water).

You may want to contact your local pest control specialist, as I'm sure they have dealt with this problem before and no doubt have their own methods. Also having somebody else mess with the ants keeps you safely away from angry fire ants.

The least desirable solution I read about was to dig up the mounds, and "fling" the ants as far as you can. They did mention to make sure you fling the ants down-wind, but I wonder how many times they got a face full of ants before they came up with that little tip :).

  • 1
    I applied the little bit I had left in the bag to the worst remaining mounds. I checked yesterday, and no sign of ants at all.
    – Doresoom
    Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 14:32
  • After looking at the active ingredient in the Spectracide, I only plan on using it for my yard, and not my garden, since there are quite a few vegetables that can't be eaten if the active ingredient is present in the soil the plants grow in. So digging up the mound provided to be a fairly good way to get a few small ant mounds out of my garden this year. Instead of flinging the shovels full of ants, I dumped them into my wheelbarrow, and then filled it with water with a tiny bit of dish soap. After letting it sit for a day, I dumped it out elsewhere, and no more ants.
    – Doresoom
    Commented Apr 28, 2013 at 22:05
  • If you have more than a couple of mounds in your yard I would definitely recommend calling in a pro. They can use stronger (but short-lived) stuff than the average homeowner has access to. Last time I needed mounds exterminated, the guy used a pressure sprayer with a spike, which goes down into the depths of the nest and floods the entire mound with a concentrated insecticide. Quick, extremely effective, and the agent (a pyrethroid blend) was safe to be around in a day or two and effectively gone in a week.
    – KeithS
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 22:25

I am a huge fan of Amdro. I find it works most of the time in a day. Every now and then I get a mound that needs a second application. I find good results if I don't mess with the mound and I hit them in the morning.

Having a pet I do spread some bait outside of his play area even when there are no mounds. I have even gone into my neighbors lot and hit their mounds (with permission). I try to get as large of perimeter as possible.


Boiling water is safe and works well.

  • I open up the mound with a spade before pouring. Heat water with a cheap electric tea kettle that I use only for this purpose.
    – adam.r
    Commented May 3, 2020 at 23:54

Though I'd second the Amdro I'm a big fan of the Ortho Orthene.

It doesn't require watering in, and doesn't use much material at all. Though it can't be broadcast (so you can't do a whole yard) it'll usually wipe out a mound in a few hours.


Bayer make a terrific product called Top Choice. It is a one time application for year long Fire Ant control. It is a restricted use product so you licensed pest control professional will have to apply it if it is allowed on the label for your area. Spread rate is 84 lbs. per acre and may run around $300.00 an acre. Rate is 2 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. Re-Entry time is after application, but check the label. The label is the law!

The best time of year for an application is when daytime temps are around 75 degrees. First, it will kill fleas and ticks for the first month it's on the ground. And this is a peak time for fleas and tick activity. Secondly, it will be at its peak performance during the late spring when Fire Ant activty is peaking also with the spring rains. But, it can be applied anytime of year and will need watering to activate.

It should be noted that Fire Ants may still trail into your yard from surrounding areas. If they try to establish a mound in your yard, they will all die in about 3 days. It's not perfect, but I have been applying it for 6 years.

We applied it to a cities 34 acres of park lands due to heavy fire ant activity. The next year we only found 6 Fire Ant mounds. Best product I have used on Fire Ants in 23 years.

  • It's not THAT hard to become a licensed pesticide applicator. But it involves a LOT of reading, both for the test and because you must read, understand and follow the product's instructions. When they say "it's a violation of Federal law to use this contrary to instructions" that's a wrist-slap for a consumer but a Tyson-punch for a licensed applicator (who is supposed to know better). With great power to use advanced products comes great responsibility to use them safely. Commented May 2, 2020 at 21:49

If you only saw a few dozen with that many mounds, I'd say it worked pretty well. I would walk the yard once a week and treat any new mounds. You can also do a broadcast spread. I like the Orthene powder. One spoonful kills a mound. Keep at it and evtually the fire ants will go to your neighbors yards.

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