How to get rid — almost — of fire ants

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 22, 2017

The fair is in full swing and even though our office is helping with some of the activities, it doesn’t relinquish our duties from the office. We have had quite a few visits and phone calls, below are some from this week:

Question: I have fire ants everywhere, what can I do to get rid of them in my yard? 

Answer: Fire ants are always a problem in the fall and can really cause some major headaches. They are not only found in your yards, pastures and fields, they will also get into electrical boxes and equipment.

Fire ants will nest in open sunny areas, and they love locations in disturbed soil. This is why lawns and pastures have fire ants.

When controlling fire ants, you need to realize that you will never be rid of them 100 percent. If you have them, then your neighbor has them. If you are the only one treating the issue, then you will eventually have your neighbor’s fire ants over in your location.

Extension recommends the “Texas Two-Step” approach. No, I am not talking about a dance; it is a methodical program to getting optimum control of your fire-ant issue.

The first step is using fire ant bait; the key word here is bait. Baits are broadcasted around the mound or throughout the area. You do not put the bait directly on the mound or they will not eat it or give it to the queen.

Once the bait is applied the workers will provide it to the queen and kill most in the colony. After waiting a few days, you check the mounds and see if there is any activity. If there is, spot treat the area with a fire ant drench product to kill any stragglers.

For more information please visit:

Question: We are cleaning out a family member’s old barn and we have found a lot of old pesticides. Do you have a program to remove them?

Answer: Cooperative Extension does not have a program, but the Rowan County Environmental Management, Cooperative Extension and N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences will host a Community Special Waste Disposal Day on Oct. 4.

Acceptable items for this recycling event include pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, solvents, thinners, corrosives, cleaners, pool chemicals, liquid paints, varnishes, aerosol cans, batteries (rechargeable or automotive), propane-helium-fire extinguisher- and oxygen tanks, electronics (anything with a plug), fluorescent bulbs, TVs, computers, car tires (limit five per household, no rims), eyeglasses, hearing aids, toner cartridges and appliances.

Organizers do request that chemical products must be in the original containers with the original label.

The maximum amount of dry material that may be dropped off is 200 pounds and/or 10 gallons of liquid with no container larger than 5 gallons.

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office will be on-site to collect outdated prescription and nonprescription medications.

Items NOT accepted are lab reagents, explosives, radioactive materials and asbestos. Unknown or unidentified items will not be accepted.

This event is for household quantities only. Businesses must contract privately for proper disposal of special waste materials.

This is a project sponsored by the Rowan County Department of Environmental Management in affiliation with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, NCDA and Cooperative Extension Services. For further information call the Rowan County Recycling Processing Center at 704-216-8589.


Question: You always have the best farm tours. Are you doing another one this year?

Answer: This year we are helping with the Beer and Cheese Agriculture Tour. It is being held Oct. 17 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This is a neat opportunity to visit the local Piedmont Research Station, Fading D Farm, Carolina Malt House and to taste local beers from New Sarum and Morgan Ridge.

If you are interested in learning and touring the new Carolina Malt House facility, then this is the tour for you. Come learn about the malting barley being grown in the county and how it is being processed at the malting facility. Then nothing is better than visiting a local farm using the spent grains for feeding their water buffalo to make delicious specialty cheeses.

Every year these tours fill up, so be sure to register early. To sign up, please call the Rowan Chamber at 704-633-4221.

There are so many questions we receive throughout the year it is always difficult to get to them all. If you have any horticulture or gardening questions or you would like more information about the activities mentioned in this article, please contact us.

Danelle Cutting is a rowan County Cooperative Extension agent, Contact her at 704-216-8970 or at