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HomeFeaturesAgricultureExtension Notes: Combating the spread of fire ants

Extension Notes: Combating the spread of fire ants

By: Rebecca Konopka
Carter County Extension Agent

We know that fire ants have been in the state since 2000. They have typically been an invasive species only in Western Kentucky; however, earlier this year, Kentuckians discovered them in the eastern part of the state. These ants can pose a risk to human, animal and crop health. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t currently list Kentucky as an “invaded” state, you should still know how to prevent, spot, report and treat fire ants in case you do encounter them. 

So far fire ants have been confirmed in southeastern counties like McCreary and Whitley counties along the Tennessee border, but the survey is ongoing to determine the boundaries of the infested area. If you are in or around an area where fire ants have been reported, it is important to report suspected fire ant mounds. Fire ants can spread to new areas of the state through the movement of certain agricultural products. For example, fire ants can infest round bales stored in the field or on the ground, so be wary in purchasing these types of bales. 

Fire ants are known for their mound-like nests. These nests vary in size but can be as large as 18 to 24 inches tall, and the mound has a fluffy soil appearance. You’ll typically find these mounds in open sunny areas on level ground or on a southern facing slope, and you won’t usually find them in wooded areas.

If you suspect fire ants on your property, do not approach the mound as fire ants are very aggressive and may sting if you disturb the mound. To report a mound, contact your local extension agent or submit a report to ReportAPest@uky.edu including a photo or video and address or GPS coordinates of the mound. 

If fire ants are identified on your property, you may use fire ant baits such as Advion, Amdro and Extinguish to eliminate the ants. Read and follow the directions on the product label. Do not use gasoline, diesel or other flammable products as a control tactic. 

For more information about fire ants, contact the Carter County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.  Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.  

Upcoming Events:

  • The Olive Hill Farmer’s Market is open on Saturdays and Wednesdays at 8:00 AM and Mondays at 3:00 PM until sell out each day. The Olive Hill market is located in the Save-a-Lot parking lot.  The Grayson Farmer’s Market has closed for the season.  
  • Extension District Board Meeting – October 11th @ 10:00 AM
  • Northeast Area Livestock Association – October 13th @ 6:00 PM; Speaker – Dr. Jonathan Larson, UK Entomologist; Topic: Ticks, People & Cattle in KY
  • Hike & Learn – October 21st @ 1:00 PM – Laurel Gorge Cultural Heritage Center  
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