Red Imported Fire Ant Control Products
The District's primary method for control of RIFA is the application of pesticide ant bait containing an insect growth regulator or toxicant. The District currently uses pesticide ant bait formulations containing four active ingredients. The active ingredients work as an insect growth regulator (IGR) or a metabolic inhibitor (MI) as means of controlling the current adult population and emerging juvenile population. The metabolic inhibitor interferes with the metabolism of food, resulting in the death of the ants by starvation. The colony eventually dies out as a result of ants consuming the bait, then starving, and not being replaced. Results are sometimes visible within a week. The insect growth regulator essentially sterilizes the colony, as ants die through attrition, and they are not replaced. This is a slow acting material, and results may take a month or more to be recognized.
Prior to treatment, District staff confirms the identification of RIFA at a site. In large area sites, such as commercial buildings, schools, parks, rights-of-way, and multifamily housing, the District performs RIFA control. In heavily infested neighborhoods, the District abates RIFA through community-wide management of the pest.
Many neighborhoods in Orange County are heavily infested with RIFA. Heavily infested neighborhoods are determined by analyzing reports of RIFA occurrence. District staff visits these neighborhoods and distributes notifications that a pesticide ant bait treatment will be made within the next week. Residents can opt out of the treatment by contacting the District or taping the notification to the door on the date of the treatment. District staff records the presence of RIFA mounds in the neighborhood. On the treatment day, pesticide ant bait is applied to the front lawns, and sometimes backyards, and communal areas of the neighborhood via a hand-held granular application device. Residents are instructed not to irrigate their property for 24 hours following treatment and to refrain from applying pesticides or other chemicals for 72 hours following treatment.
Broadcast treatments of pesticide ant bait are effective because ants from all colonies in the treated area can collect the bait. This is also easier than an Inspector trying to locate individual mounds. Pesticide ant bait not collected by the ants rapidly decomposes in the environment. Bait broadcast in the environment is effective for a short period of time as the active ingredients degrade in sunlight, and exposure to environmental factors can breakdown the food carrier.