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Welcome to Fire Ant Season

It’s spring time.  College students are flocking to the beach, azaleas are blooming, orange blossoms are budding on the trees, and northern baseball teams are headed to our area for spring training. It’s also a time when many Floridians have to think about how best to control the dreaded fire ant problem.  Luckily, spring is one of the best times to handle the problem, so it’s a great time to take action.

Fire ants are not just a nuisance.  They can be very dangerous to us, our pets, and our children.  A bite from a fire ant can not only hurt, but can also leave behind pustules which may get infected.  Unfortunately, when someone gets bit by a fire ant, the chances are they will get bit by multiple fire ants.  This occurs when someone accidentally steps into the mount and hundreds of ants swarm up the feet and the legs biting as they go.  These are extremely aggressive pests.

It is not easy to get rid of a fire ant mound.  They are very tough bugs and may return to areas that have previously been treated.  It often takes multiple treatments with several different approaches in order to get rid of a fire ant colony once and for all. These include:

*Bait Treatments – these are treatments where pesticides are applied over a larger area.  The bait is something that the worker ant will pick up and bring back to the mound for the rest of the ant colony to feast on.  It is not a quick solution, but may be more effective as the queen may eat from the poisoned bait.

*Treatment of the Mound – some type of pesticide is applied directly to the mound itself.  These could be liquids or powders, but may not always reach the queen.

*Barrier Treatments – this is a technique where insecticides or baits are scattered around the perimeter of your yard.  Hopefully, this keeps new fire ants from coming in, but may not be as effective as spot treatments.

*Biological Treatments – are a brand new type of treatment and have only started being used in the US, but have shown great promise in South America. This includes introducing natural predators of the fire ant to the area or introducing a disease to the colony. Many homeowners don’t really want additional bugs added to their yard, so introducing natural predators is not a top choice for pest control customers. However, there is more promise with the use of disease that kills the entire colony.

If you are having a fire ant problem, you could try to treat it yourself.  But because of how difficult it is to get rid of a fire ant mound, it’s better to call a professional lawn care consultant.  They will have the experience to know how to effectively treat for fire ants and will also have access to insecticides not available over the counter.

14 Apr

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