Controlling Fire Ants in the Vegetable Garden

Fire ant mound in mulched area
Fire ant mound in mulched area
Joey Williamson, ©2010 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Joey Williamson
Home & Garden Information Center

Fire ants can be a nuisance in the vegetable garden. In addition to being a stinging insect, they can damage some vegetable crops, such as okra and Irish potatoes. Occasionally they may feed on tender seedlings of corn, cucumber and watermelon.

A vegetable garden that is frequently tilled may have fewer fire ant mounds because tilling disturbs the fire ants and causes them to move. However, some mounds will persist, such as those that are too close to the individual vegetable plants to be disturbed by tilling, or if the garden is heavily mulched. In these cases, fire ant baits or mound treatments may be necessary.

For more information on the safest pesticides and methods to control fire ants around vegetable crops in the home garden, see HGIC 1263, Controlling Fire Ants in the Vegetable Garden.

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This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.