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Fire Ants: How to Deal With This Pest

Fire ant bites are something we southerners all know. They sting at first and then a red blister forms with a white head on it. This blister just plain aches. I’ve always popped these blisters that seems to take the pain away. God forbid though that you do not discover these ants are crawling on you until you have hundreds of them biting you at once, which can easily happen while playing or working on your lawn.

Fire ants are a devious little monster that will crawl on you like an evil army waiting for the signal to launch an all out assault. When they get the signal, they will all start biting at once, releasing a toxin that immediately starts itching and swelling.  If the victim happens to be allergic to this toxin, it can cause real medical problems.

Fire ants are an invasive species believed to have made it to the United States from its native South America via shipping crates. The species is a tough one to eradicate, never hibernating, and surviving cold temperatures. They cause millions of dollars in damage in the US every year to livestock, and also medical treatment on humans. How can we get rid of these pests in out yards?

One way is to be vigilant in inspecting places where these ants build nests, such as under landscape timbers, rocks, and stepping-stones. If you find an ant colony, treat immediately with a powder such as Amdro. Spraying with liquid pesticide will kill the ants it makes contact with, but will not kill the queen, which is the way to kill the colony.

A powder, applied near the mound, but not directly on it is the preferred method. This acts as a food that the ants discover and then carry throughout the colony. This will eventually make its way to the queen thus killing her and the entire colony.

Fire Ants are also partial to a moist environment. Over-watering not only invites weeds but is also an invitation for fire ants. One inch of water per week is a good fire ant preventer. Also, check places where there is a high traffic area for small kids and pets to make sure this is ant free. Fire ants in the open typically build a mound that stands out above the grass. Put a circle of powder around this mound and tell children to stay away from it.

11 May
2014

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