Vegetable crops are vulnerable to ant pressure this time of year. Alabama Extension encourages vegetable producers to implement management tactics as they begin planting this year’s crops.
According to Alabama Extension, fire ants can protect aphids and other honeydew producers on vegetables, which makes their effects worse on the plants. Fire ants can also interfere with natural enemies. Ultimately, though, fire ants can damage crops like okra, potatoes, sunflowers and hemp.
It is important to control fire ant mounds around or outside the production area to prevent them from moving into the garden. It is also essential to manage excessive plant residue on the soil. This will aid in the detection of foraging ants. It provides ants fewer places to stay out of sight and makes it easier to apply bait insecticides on open ground.
The best time to apply baits is from April 15 to Oct. 15. Mound treatments can be done any time of the year on warm, sunny days above 65 degrees Fahrenheit when fire ants are active. Apply products close or on the mound after checking for foraging ants.
For more information on fire ant control, read Managing Fire Ants with Baits located on the Alabama Extension website. More information is available in Fire Ant Control: The Two-Step Method and Other Approaches on the eXtension Foundation website.