Everything You Need To Know About Fire Ants
- May 10, 2021
Are those ants on your patio “regular” ants or the dreaded fire ants? And what happens if one of them bites? Today, we’ll explore all the frequently asked questions we see about fire ants in Texas.
It may surprise you to learn that fire ants are non-native. They’ve been around for as long as anyone can remember. However, this wasn’t always the case. They were accidentally brought to the US from South America around a century ago. This invasive species spread like wildfire and now covers much of the southern half of the continental US.
Fire ants are very similar in appearance to other native ant species, so no one could fault you for mistaking them. Fire ants are about 1/16 to 1/4 inch in length and can be red or blackish. They’re smaller than other ants and far more aggressive if they perceive you as a threat. That’s why it’s so important to contact a fire ant control service rather than deal with them yourself. You’d be surprised how quickly they will swarm when disturbed.
Yes! Fire ant bites are extremely painful, and some people even have life-threatening allergic reactions. They can cause pustules and linger for 24 hours. If you’ve been bitten, leave the area immediately. Remove or kill any ants you see on your skin or clothing. Most commonly, fire ants bite your legs and feet, so if necessary, remove your shoes or socks and make sure a hidden fire ant can’t bite you. Wash the bite(s) carefully with soap to eliminate lingering venom and disinfect the area with rubbing alcohol. Use a cool rag or icepack to cool the bite for 15 minutes. Afterward, apply a diluted bleach solution, calamine lotion, cortisone cream, or take an oral antihistamine like Benadryl. As tempting as it is, don’t scratch the pustule, or it could lead to infection. The bite site will likely cause a burning sensation for several hours. If you experience difficulty breathing, lightheadedness, or weakness, call 911 as you may be experiencing a severe allergic reaction.
Here in Texas, we see two different types of fire ants.
Single-queen colonies have a staked-out territory they control and which they use as a hunting ground for food. They are highly protective of their territory and will attack you even if you accidentally disturb them doing something as simple as mowing the lawn. A single-queen colony will have one queen.
Multi-queen colonies have multiple queens and are not territorial. They create multiple mounds, and their workers will travel between the two, almost like an ant city. These little ant cities can house up to 40 million fire ants. You may be bigger, but you are vastly outnumbered. It’s truly better to leave fire ant control to the pros.
Fire ants live underground in tunnels like other ants, but they also build above-ground mounds. These mounds look like larger versions of the small ant hills you might find along the sidewalk. Once you’ve spotted a mound, you should take action. You won’t count every ant, but generally, the bigger the mound, the larger the colony.
Like any form of pest control, it’s impossible to get rid of every single ant in a colony. That being said, a fire ant spray or dust can be used to stop the spread of fire ants. The most important thing is to kill the queen. Without her, the colony can’t produce more ants since she is literally the mother to all the colonies.
This treatment targets the visible mound using a powderized bait, sometimes called “dust.” It is sprinkled over the mound and coats the ants who will unknowingly carry the poison back to the queen. This type of treatment is good if you have a single mound, but it won’t prevent other colonies from forming. If you have multiple mounds on your property, you may need to use an insecticide spray.
Insecticide treatments, also known as “contact insecticide,” are applied to the landscaping. Like poison, these products are slow releasing, but unlike poisonous mound treatments, this spray may not reach ants underground. However, it will eradicate ants on the surface. Fire ant sprays are good for yards that aren’t currently seeing a mound, or you can use it in conjunction with a mound treatment if needed.
Fire ants are tough, but the experts at DFW Mosquitoes are tougher. We’ll eradicate these annoying critters from your lawn so you can enjoy your backyard again without fear. In addition to fire ants, we can also help with mosquitoes, as you might have guessed from our name! We offer both season-long mosquito control services and mosquito spray for events like wedding receptions and graduation parties. If you’re interested in protecting your property, give us a call at (817) 615-4944 or leave us a message online. If you’re interested in learning more about other Texas pests, how to control them, and how to tell if you have them in your yard, visit our blog page, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or check out our Pinterest boards.