How to Treat and Maintain Electrical Equipment Infested with Red Imported Fire Ants

Fire Ants in Electrical Housing

Remains of Fire Ants in Service Panel
Photo Credit:  Kenny Woller/Lakeside Inspection

How To Treat and Maintain Electrical Equipment Infested with Red Imported Fire Ants
The following chart, Electrical Equipment and Utility Housing Treatment Program-- provided by the University of Tennessee Extension outlines measures that should be taken to treat infested electrical equipment.

Their proviso is that only an electrician or licensed pest control provider should treat electrical equipment for safety reasons because specialized products and training are necessary.

Treatment Program

1

Turn off all electrical service before starting.

2

With an individual mound treatment method, eliminate colonies around electrical and plumbing casings and housings.

3

Injectable aerosol products containing pyrethrins, or similar products, give rapid control.

4

Hydramethylnon, abamectin, indoxacarb, and spinosad baits applied to individual fire ant mounds will provide control in about 1 week, even if the colony is located within the structure.

5

Do not use liquid drenches, sprays, or products that may damage insulation around electrical fixtures.

6

Treatment of a larger area around the electrical structure is optional.

7

Mound and area treatments are described in the section on Home Lawns and Other Ornamental Turf Areas.

8

Be extremely careful when applying pesticide around water systems and well heads to prevent contamination of wells and ground water.

9

Once ants are eliminated, remove debris and soil from equipment housing to reduce possibilities of short circuit.

10

Treat the inside of equipment housings with products labeled for this use, such as Rainbow® Fire Ant & Insect Killer (chlorpyrifos), Ascend® (abamectin), or Hot Shot® No-Pest Strip , Spectracide® Bug Stop Pest Strip (dichlorvos).



Maintenance

A

After ants are removed from the electrical equipment, prevent reinfestation, and damage.

B

Where possible, seal all sensitive electrical components, particularly those that are not insulated.

C

Examples are plastic housings containing contact points of switches, relays and circuit breakers.

D

Spray long-residual contact insecticides around housings, making sure to avoid the electrical circuitry or components.

E

Apply specifically labeled products to the housing itself or the mounting pad.



Sources:

Rick Weiss Ants get a transforming charge - why ants invade outdoor electrical equipment. Science News. FindArticles.com. 29 Jan, 2010.

USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, Gainesville, FL   Vander Meer RK, Slowik TJ, Thorvilson HG  --  Semiochemicals released by electrically stimulated red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta.

 

Incredible, but disgusting,  BBC Video on Red Imported Fire Ants

 

 

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Your Landscape’s Hidden Electric Personality

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