The Lizard Log

The Langkilde Lab in Action

Fire Ant Assassins

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(Originally posted on our 2012 Field Blog —  by Jill Newman)

As previously mentioned, Chris and I have been boiling fire ants and we wanted to give a play-by-play on how we actually go about doing it:

We get up early in the morning because the fire ants are more active in the morning compared to the afternoon when it’s really hot outside.

6:45 AM: Set up turkey fryer and start boiling water using propane tank

7:00 AM: Walk around Enclosures 1 and 2 (inside and outside) and place red-colored flags near fire ant mounds while water is heating up

7:25 AM: Attach a washing machine hose to the turkey fryer and place fryer on cart

7:30 AM – 8:00 AM: Wheel the cart around to the flagged areas. Using a rebar (a 4ft reinforcing bar) and a sledge hammer, we drop holes into fire ant mounds. We try to make the holes as deep as possible because the goal is to reach (and kill) the queen of the colony. She may be up at the surface or down in the egg chamber. After holes are put into the mounds, we take the hose attached to the fryer and pour boiling hot water into the holes until they overflow. We then pour boiling hot water on the ants that storm out of the holes looking to attack us.

Using this method is safer than using insecticides. Insecticides can kill multiple species of arthropods and part of Chris’s project includes surveying arthropods (before and after fire ants are killed). The method we use is safer because we can target just the fire ant mounds and not kill other arthropods in the area.


Here are a few pictures:


Heating up water in the turkey fryer


Flagged fire ant mound


Cart holding the turkey fryer with boiling hot water inside

Rebar and sledge hammer

Rebar and sledge hammer

Steam cloud rising from fire ant mound after it was obliterated

Steam cloud rising from fire ant mound after it was obliterated



-The Intern

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