Pest Issues

How to Get Rid of Fire Ants

sarawuth wannasathit /

Fire ants are highly adaptive species, and they don’t shy away from aggression. Considered Category 1 restricted matter in Australia, the residents from Down Under are obligated to take measures to stop their spread. The Queensland government has taken action with a 10-year eradication plan of the fire ants.

Their painful sting can be very dangerous and even deadly to sensitive people and animals. Suppose you can’t deal with them after following the tips listed below, or you might have a long-term problem with a fire ant infestation. You should consider hiring a professional exterminator to eliminate the ant colony.

Warning: Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, everyone, individuals or organisations, are legally required to report to Biosecurity sighting fire ants within 24 hours or face penalties.
In this article:

How to identify fire ants and why are they a concern?


To fight against the spread of this invasive species, first, you need to be able to identify them.

Fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) are tiny, barely 2-6mm, with a coppery colour and dark brown thorax and abdomen. The worker fire ants vary from blackish to reddish in colour.

The Queen ants are the largest of the entire colony. She might live up to 7 years, and her primary function is to reproduce. The young ones have got wings before mating.

They’re native ants to South America, but they’ve spread over other continents. You can locate fire ants in Queensland, Australia after they were accidentally introduced in 2001 by a cargo ship in Brisbane. Since then, the colony has spread over the greater Brisbane area. They’ve been a concern to the residents and government as outdoor activities were impossible at the peak of the infestation.

With a single fire ant queen, the fire ant colony can grow up to 250 000. If you get rid of the fire ant nest, bear in mind that if the queen is still alive, the colony will again expand to tens of thousands in a month or two.

Those little creatures can damage electrical wiring and insulation as well, so they could even cause fire hazards.

You’ve spotted red fire ants? Report them within 24 hours. You can call +61 7 13 25 23 or report them online.

Are fire ants’ bites and stings dangerous?

khlungcenter /

They have a painful bite, which is similar to what people feel when being burnt by fire, hence the name.

This is how fire ant bites look like.

Fire ants' bites on a leg

Arlee.P /

Red imported fire ants (RIFA) feed on seeds and plants, and they often attack and kill small animals. They create their mounds in open areas, and it’s good to know that there can be more than one queen in a colony.

Fire ants bite to get a grip and sting by injecting a toxic alkaloid venom named solenopsin. This could be very painful for most people and might cause severe swelling, chest pain, or shortness of breath. If you experience some of these symptoms, you should immediately call emergency medical attention. If the only symptoms are pain and pustules, wash the sting with soap and cold water (but we’d still advise you to go to the doctor).

You may also like:
Pest Issues
What Bit You? Australian Insect Bites Identification

What attracts fire ants to your house?


As you might have guessed, it’s the sources of food. Even if you don’t have a fire ant problem, you can have other unwanted visitors like cockroaches, wasps, rats and mice, and sometimes even possums.

Sweet, tasty, and sticky things attract fire ants, so make sure your countertops, cupboards, pantry, and containers are clean. Don’t leave dirty dishes for the next day.

You can prevent pest infestations by throwing away leftovers and always storing food in sealed containers. In the yard, clean up the barbecue when you’re done grilling and use trashcans with lids.

You may also like:
Pest Issues
How to Safely Get Rid of Bull Ants

How to get rid of fire ants with home remedies

thebigland /

Although Queensland’s eradication program against the imported fire ants has significant progress, you might still have the unlucky experience of meeting face-to-face with them. In this case, there are ways you can help stop the spread.

If you spot fire ants crawling around, don’t kill them on sight but follow them and find the location of the ant colony. But be careful! They’re the most aggressive near the nest.

Even though natural home remedies might not be 100% effective, they’re safe for pets and children (and you), which is the route you should go. Popular homemade solutions include baking soda, vinegar, instant grits, and molasses.

It’s illegal to use substances like ammonia, chlorine bleach, and diesel oil to control fire ants, so take a look at what the Fantastic pest controllers have prepared for you.

Peppermint essential oil

When you find the fire ant nest, you can clean their trails with peppermint essential oil. When the trails dissipate, ants would not be able to come back for the rest of the food they need. Put a few drops of the oil on a cotton ball and wipe down areas and surfaces where you have seen them before. While this doesn’t remove the nest in your property, at least you’ll buy yourself some time with getting them out of your home.

Cayenne Pepper

You can try and spray the nest with cayenne pepper. Fire ants use signals to communicate, and the pungent odour of cayenne pepper prevents their communication. They won’t be able to find the nest again, and could not survive long after.

Baby powder

Another way to break the communication between the fire ants is to use baby powder. This will ensure the absence of ants behind the powder barricade.

Hire a professional to deal with the ant infestation!

Our professional pest controllers can get rid of the fire ants on your property!

Add a valid postcode e.g. 3000
  • We're certified:

How to get rid of fire ants in the yard naturally

c.shots /

Fire ants can be very irritating and potentially dangerous pests that you don’t want anywhere on your property. Be a good neighbour and notify the people living around you, there’s a good chance that they’re affected too. Here are some natural ways that will help you get rid of the ants in your yard.

Pouring boiling water down the nest won’t help you get rid of the fire ants. You will definitely kill some of them, but that won’t solve your problems. The queen will most probably survive and relocate the nest. A better solution is to call a professional to deal with the ant infestation.

Use dry ice

Use a metal rod to make a hole in the fire ant mound. Insert a piece of dry ice in the hole and push it to the bottom. This tip requires great attention and precision, so take a look at the other tips below before choosing the most suitable for you.

Be sure you use the proper personal protective equipment like gloves and rubber boots to avoid ants on your skin.

Water and dish soap

Mix water and dish soap in a bottle. Shake it and spray it into the fire ant mound and see how effective it is. The fire ants will die from dehydration.

Cleaning is half of your success

As we already mentioned, limiting access to food sources will only help you in your battle with pest infestations. After having a barbecue party or picnic in your backyard, ensure the food leftovers and other trash are disposed of. This will sensitively reduce the risk of fire ants invasion in your yard.

Cucumber pills

Here is one interesting method you can try in your garden. Ants hate the taste of cucumber, especially the bitter-tasting ones. Leaving fresh pills every day in your yard should help with controlling the ants on your property.

Used coffee grounds

If you see fire ants infestation on some particular plants, just draw a circle of used coffee grounds. The coffee blocks the ant’s trails and confuses them, so they don’t know where to go.

To eliminate the fire ant nest, you need to find the egg-laying queen first. She can lay more than 1600 eggs per day, so if you can’t reach the queen, you can’t eradicate them all. With her, the colony will most likely relocate.


  • Report fire ant sightings to Biosecurity within 24 hours or you face a penalty.
  • Collective measures should be taken to stop this invasive species.
  • If the ants are in your garden, notify your neighbours as soon as possible.
  • Equip right, take precaution and treat the area immediately.
  • Hire professional exterminators for ant treatment. They know what to do.

Fire ants should be taken seriously, act now


Add a valid postcode e.g. 3000
  • We're certified:
5 1 Vote
Article Rating
Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most voted
Inline feedbacks
View all comments
Leviticus Bennett
Leviticus Bennett
4 years ago

Dang, it\’s good to know that if a fire ant bite causes chest pain or shortness of breath that I should go to the doctor. I noticed a fire ant mound in my back yard yesterday.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x