Friday, June 22, 2012

Fire ant bait, varmints, and grits!

Varmints and fire ant bait

Last weekend I received an email that directed me to the Montgomery-County-Texas-Yard-and-Garden-Magazine facebook page where a concern was voiced over the apparent damage to an  AMDRO® Fire Strike product bag (link to post) by a varmint of some type.  If you can’t view the facebook age here is a copy of the photo submitted by Greg and Melissa Mize of Montgomery Co.

Though I did not post a comment on the facebook page, here is the text of the email I sent back to Greg and Melissa.

To Greg & Melissa Mize

AMDRO® is a bait.  It is made out of corn grit with soybean oil.  The active ingredient, hydramethylnon is dissolved in the soybean oil.  More information here: What is a fire ant bait 

 Here is an older publication on baits.  Broadcast Baits     

Yes, animals will eat the bait because it is a food source.  The hydramethylnon is in such a low concentration the risk of any animal getting a dose that would hurt them is extremely remote.

The fire ants pick it up to carry it back to the mound where they pass it among the population in the mound and over a week to 10 days the individuals in the mound begin to slowly die and within 3-4 weeks the mound has no activity.

Any effects an animal will see will be a stomach ache from the oil and corn grit, not the active ingredient.  It is in such a low dose (the ants have to concentrate it before it begins to affect them.  They are much smaller than a cat or raccoon).

I suggest you spread the bait over your yard.  I just spread Amdro over my property.  I have 7 dogs and 4 horses.  I am more afraid of the dangers of the health and safety issues the presence of fire ant cause than any perceived dangers of the bait I am spreading.

I hope this information eases some of your fears.
Paul R. Nester, Ph.D.
Extension Program Specialist - IPM
Texas AgriLife Extension Service
Texas A&M University System
3033 Bear Creek Drive, Houston, TX  77084

To further comment, it is not uncommon to see varmints/rodents and sometimes dogs tear into a bag of fire ant bait.  I have had mice/rats eat into a jug of AMDRO® Fire Ant Bait.  Fire ant bait products are a food source for the fire ant made out of extruded corn grit with a soybean bean carrier (for more detailed information on baits please refer to the publication (it takes time to load!): Broadcast baits

When you open the bag and smell, the odor of the bait product is like fresh corn meal and is very pleasant.  Fire ants are attracted to it and readily pick it up.  Also varmints see this as a source of food and tear into the container trying to get what’s inside if the bag or container is not stored properly.  It is important to secure all pesticide products so children and small animals cannot get into them.

As I mentioned in the email, the active ingredients are of such as low concentration, any chance of an animal getting a lethal dose is extremely remote.  The active ingredients in the AMDRO® Fire Strike product (pictured in the image) are at a very low concentration.  This product is formulated specially for the home owner to be applied in a broadcast spreader used for fertilizer or other granules.  A high volume of the bait matrix (corn grit and soybean oil) is spread over the yard while keeping the active ingredients at the labeled rate for the area being treated.  Yes, you get the same rate of active ingredient just spread out over much more corn grit.

The concentration of the active ingredient in the AMDRO® Fire Strike product  is much lower than the active ingredient of AMDRO® found in the small white jugs.  So, the risk of exposure is further reduced.  Also, one of the products in the AMDRO® Fire Strike formulation is methoprene (an insect growth regulator) that is used as a feed through in some farm animals to prevent the development of flies in their manure.

As mentioned earlier, if you do buy a fire ant bait product, please store it so varmints will not try to feed on the contents.

FYI, I baited my property last weekend with a product that contained the same active ingredients as AMDRO® Fire Strike (hydramethylnon + methoprene) and knocked the "fire" right out of my fire ants!!

Aricanized fire ants????

There were two other things I wanted to address from comments on the above facebook page.  One is that fire ants were referred to as being “africanized" in one of the posted comments.  No there are no Africanized fire ants.  This is only associated with bees.  Fire ants are just aggressive by nature. 

Grits, again

Then there was the comment about grits.  I would like to refer to to a FAQ on the Imported Fire Ant eXtension web page about grits and fire ants: Do grits kill fire ants?

Grits do not affect fire ants.  A laboratory study conducted by Dr. Bart Drees, Professor and Extension Entomologist, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M University, in 2000 indicated that grits were not an effective treatment for eliminating colonies of the red imported fire ant.

For furhter information on fire ants and fire ant control please visit:

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