Fire ants can be a problem when camping in open, sunny areas with grass. You’re more likely to encounter them when camping on grasslands, fields, or large grassy areas like fairgrounds. How do you get rid of fire ants in a campsite? It depends on how badly they’ve invaded you.
How Do You Get Rid of Fire Ants in a Campsite?
Fire Ant Mound Killer – The only way to completely eliminate fire ants in your campsite is to kill the mound. Killing the mound involves sprinkling fire ant mound killer (see it on Amazon) directly to the mound. Make sure this killer is intended to be sprinkled over the mound itself and not across entire lawns as a general preventative.
Don’t crush the mound, don’t kick it. Leave it intact. This way ants remain docile and will take the bait to the queen. Usually within 24 hours, the entire colony will be killed, including the queen.
If you’re seeing hundreds of fire ants crawling on your vehicle or tent, evacuate your family and pets. If you can drive into town and find a hardware store, then do so and buy the fire ant killer described above.
But, if you don’t have another vehicle you can use to drive into town, then you will have to move your vehicle far enough away from the ant colony, and then kill those inside your vehicle.
How to Kill Fire Ants Inside Your Vehicle or Tent
There are only two ways to kill fire ants immediately…
- First, locate the ant trail leading into your vehicle or tent, and spray with ant spray (Raid, Black Flag, etc.).
- Second, spray the inside of your vehicle or tent. If you don’t want to spray inside your vehicle or tent, then you’ll have to spray on to a rag (soak it heavily) and manually dab each ant.
- You can also smash each ant with your finger. Put on a pair of gloves, and smash them one-by-one, then wipe surfaces clean.
How to Prevent More Fire Ants From Coming Into Your Camp
- First, you have to kill the mound. Use the fire ant mound killer mentioned above and sprinkle it over the mound. The entire colony should be killed within 24 hours.
- Find out what food sources the ants are attracted to and remove them. Look at trash bins, barbecue grills, and pet bowls. Did you dump a lot of food on the ground, like chips, fruit peels, or cooking grease?
- Use Diatomaceous Earth (DE) (see it on Amazon) and pour a line of this completely surrounding your campsite. You may have to buy several bags of this to encapsulate your camp. You can buy this at any hardware store or garden center. If you have pets, then make sure to buy “food grade” DE. Otherwise, non-food grade DE works better, but you should wear a mask when spreading this.
How to Identify Fire Ants
It’s difficult to identify them by sight. Typically, they are dark red in color with a black abdomen (tail segment). But over the decades, they have developed into different shades. We’ve seen them as all red, either bright red or dark red, or all black. They are not all the same size either. Some colonies consist of tiny ants, about 2mm in length, while other colonies are larger ants, about 5 to 6mm in length.
The best way to identify fire ants is by their mound. Fire ants mounds have a loose, loamy mound. These mounds don’t look like perfectly round, symmetrical craters, nor do they have a layer of surrounding pebbles.
Moreover, fire ants build their mounds in open areas, where there is sunlight, usually in grasses. You won’t find them under bushes or in shady areas. You won’t find them in desert environments either. They prefer moist, humid climates, preferably Southern Plains and the South East.
How Do Fire Ants Get Inside My RV?
Most fire ants get into your RV…
- Crawl up tires. This is the primary way all ants get inside vehicles. Don’t just look at the outside of your tires, get on your hands and knees and look at the tires facing underneath the vehicle. Use a flashlight, and look carefully.
- Stabilizer jacks. This is also very common for all ants.
- Tongue jack on a trailer.
- Don’t leave trailer tow chains touching the ground.
- Check for a strand of grass, flower, or stick that may be touching your RV.
- Check for a tree branch touching your RV.
- Check for a fold up table, fold up chair, storage bin, that may be touching your RV.
Once you have cleared all points of entry, then attack the ants that are inside.
These Do Not Work With Fire Ants
- Blue Dawn Dish Soap – People say to mix this with water and spray it around your camp. We’ve tried this, but it didn’t work for us. Once it dries up, we still found ants walking right over it with not a care in the world.
- Ant Baits – These are little plastic traps with bait inside. Brands like Terro, Hot Shot, and Raid all sell these. You’re supposed to lay them where ants frequent. They bite off a piece of bait and take it back to their colony, and then in a few days, the colony is dead. The problem is that it takes a few days to work, and that many colonies simply don’t take the bait.
- Borax – Many RVers tell people to spread Borax all around their camp, or at least around the tires of their vehicle. Yes, Borax does kill ants, but it still takes anywhere from one to three days to kill an ant. Moreover, you have to mix into a concoction of water and sugar in order for them to ingest it. Otherwise, spreading pure Borax powder doesn’t do much.
What if I Get Stung by Fire Ants?
Fire ant stings are not deadly for most people. But for some people, it can induce anaphylactic shock. But, if you get stung by a lot of them, like dozens of them at once, it can become fatal.
A fire ant sting will become itchy almost immediately. Fire ant stings are more itchy than mosquito bites. Within 12 hours, it will produce a pocket of puss. The sting will leave a scar that will take about four weeks to fully heal.
How to Treat a Fire Ant Sting
If you get stung, and you don’t feel your heart racing, or you’re certain you’re not going into shock, you can easily treat it with alcohol, Epsom Salt, and Benadryl Itch Cream. These are all available at any drug store.
If the sting already has a pocket of puss forming, cut open the pocket and squeeze out all the puss. Pour 70% Rubbing Alcohol all over the sting to prevent bacterial infection. Then, pour a few cups of Epsom Salt into a bucket of warm-hot water, and soak the wound for an hour.
The Epsom Salt will draw out whatever venom may still be present.
The wound will remain itchy for a week, but the itchiness will be much less reduced than if not treating it this way. Apply Benadryl Itch Cream to the area whenever the itchiness increases.
A scab will form over the wound, but DO NOT pull off the scab or else it will prolong the scar. Let the scab fall off on its own, which should be in about two weeks. After that, it will be another two weeks until the scar disappears.