BEWARE OF FIRE ANTS

BEWARE OF FIRE ANTS

BEWARE OF FIRE ANTS

Super pests.  If there is an insect that deserves this moniker, then one top candidate is a type of ant that is known as fire ants. Looking at a single fire ant, it does not seem to amount to much because it is too small.  But them being in a group, it becomes a different story. Fire ants are dangerous because of their aggressive behaviour. Fire ant bites can inflict a painful, fiery sting. Multiply that to hundreds and they become extremely deadly.  This is not to scare you, but having enough knowledge would help us to find local ant exterminator and protect ourselves from this type of ants.  

They do not transmit diseases, unlike some of the most dangerous pests like mosquitoes, cockroaches, and rats.  What they do is that they can severely damage the environment, agriculture, be a nuisance to our outdoor picnics and barbecues, and can sometimes even cause death to both humans and other animals.  

Description of fire ant

There are about 280 species of fire ants all over the world.  Fire ants got their name because they can inflict so much pain through their stings which could be described as fiery pain.  They were introduced to the United States from Brazil through a cargo that entered the ports of Mobile, Ala. about 70 years ago. They are dark reddish-brown in colour,  with 6 legs, oval-shaped bodies, with antenna attached to their heads, and are ⅛ inch to ⅜ inch in size.  

They attack small animals, like our dear little kittens,  Their colonies can be found in places like North Carolina, Tennessee,  Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and California and are still spreading worldwide.  They are usually introduced into one area through potted plants, shrubs, and trees.  People are often bitten by these ants when they stumble upon a nest. Their painful stings will eventually turn into welts.  

They build large mound nests that look flattened and irregular in shape. The size of these nests is between 2 to 4 square feet.   These nests are usually found near structural foundations and landscaping. They are oftentimes found outdoors, but can usually gain access inside buildings and houses through air conditioning units or HVAC systems.  Once they get indoors, it will definitely become a very big problem.  

Fire ants nest

Their nests are dome-shaped mounds, yet these mounds cannot be easily identified at times.  These mounds can be up to 40 cm high, but it can also be flat. These nests are usually built on lawns, along the roadside, pastures, and on unused croplands.  Other areas are under objects such as timber, logs, in pot plants on the ground, in untidy or overgrown areas, and near areas wherein water is abundant and in permanent supply like in the banks of rivers, ponds, and aquaculture containers.  

They can kill!

Fire ants are very aggressive.  Their stings will produce welts and pustule that will resolve on its own.  However, fire ants can cause death in about 5% of the reported cases. Yes, fire ants can kill, not just small animals, but human beings.

One such case happened in 2006.  According to ABC News, a person named Janet Wallace Roedl Shiansky from South Carolina, who was then 68 years old, was outside her house to tend to her garden.  As she was doing so, the aggressive fire ants attacked her. She then went into anaphylactic shock but died later on.  

These ants were able to sting her when they got into Shiansky’s sneakers.  They stung her in the foot. Her husband did not think much of it and treated her stings with ammonia.  Moments later he found her unconscious and took her to the hospital. There, doctors found that her brain became swollen.  The following day, she died from what doctors said was an allergic reaction that closed her airways.  

When fire ants feel threatened, they all sting at the same time and they hold on as long as possible using their mandibles or mouthparts.  They do not give up easily, have a never-say-die which would require a person to pull them off one by one.  

Fire ant bites, unlike those of the mosquitoes or bed bugs, are immediately noticeable.  Their bites, or actually stings, begin as small red marks on the skin then turn into a white pustule.  There will be pain, swelling, redness, and itchiness on the site of the bite. Some people will have an allergic reaction.  Symptoms will be dizziness, vomiting, disorientation, and wheezing.  

First aid treatments

In case you encounter these fire ants, you may do some of these first aid treatments:

  1. Apply ammonia mixed with water which will denature the ant venom.  Put this mixture on the affected part of the skin.
  2. Apply a cold compress to relieve pain.
  3. Wash the affected areas gently with soap and water but leave the blisters intact.
  4. Meat tenderizer can also denature the ant venom.
  5. If you are allergic to insect stings, seek immediate care from your health care provider.

The dangerous and damaging effects of fire ants

Fire ants are a major type of pests because of their social, environmental, and economic impacts.  

Encounters with fire ants usually are by the dozens and with them moving quickly and without you knowing it.  By the time you find out, there are probably hundreds or even thousands attacking you. They tend to sting at once, and multiple stings tend to give a sensation that your body is on fire.  Because of this, their effects on people’s social lives are clearly seen. People avoid gathering for picnics on the lawn, or go barefoot, or sit and stand in one place for a long time. All other outdoor activities are also affected. 

Their effects on the environment are also nothing to sneeze at,  they are capable of destroying small ground fauna like insects, small lizards, spiders, frogs, birds, and other animals.  They also have this nasty habit of feeding on seeds, which could then lead to changes in the ecosystem over time.  

Lastly, fire ant colonies that build their mound nests near lawns, golf courses, and sporting fields which could then have economic impacts.  They can also damage electrical equipment and wiring.

As for agriculture, fire ants can attack newborn animals, which can lead to the death of these young ones.  Building mounds can also damage irrigation systems and other machinery during harvesting season.   

How to get rid of fire ants

One of the easiest and cheapest methods of how to kill fire ants is to use boiling water and pouring it directly into the hole of the mound.  Make sure the fire ants are at a relaxed state when you do this so that the queen would not be anxious and perhaps a getaway. 2 to 3 gallons of water being poured is ideal.  Walk toward the nest slowly so as not to alert them. Do this in the morning about 2 to 3 times.

You can also drench their mound with a mixture that contains orange oil, liquid soap, and 1 litre of water.  Again, do not alert the ants of your presence so walk slowly towards their nest. Pour this mixture directly into the hole of the mound.  

You may also use diatomaceous earth.  Diatomaceous earth is made of fossilized remains of diatoms.  They are like little shards of broken glass. When the fire ants crawl on them, it would inflict cuts on their bodies, which would dehydrate them and make them bleed to death.  Spray these on their mounds. Keep the powder-like substance dry to make it effective. If it gets wet, pour another batch. You can buy these at your local gardening stores.

Cornmeal is also said to be effective in killing fire ants.  Ants are attracted to it, but cannot digest it. Pour some of it near their nests.  This does not act as a poison. The ants will die after a few days due to starvation, so be patient with it.  

Removal of fire ants would require the help of pest control professionals.  If these tips do not work, call the professionals. The local ant exterminator, Go-Forth Pest Control, is just a phone call away.

Go-Forth Pest Control is simply the best

No home or pest is the same, so there is no cookie-cutter solution.  At Go-Forth Pest Control, we have professional technicians who will examine your home and your lawn to evaluate your individual necessity.   We will identify points of entry and make treatments as necessary. We only use state of the art equipment to keep up with these ever-evolving pests, including fire ants. 

Go-Forth Pest Control Pest Control is a family-owned company that was established in 1959.   We only use state of the art equipment and a family-friendly and pet-friendly method of exterminating pests.

Go-Forth Pest Control has earned the trust of residents and businesses in North Carolina for more than 50 years.  For more information, or to set an appointment, just dial 336-841-6111. Our friendly operators are standing by.

Go-Forth Pest Control is a family owned exterminator company based in High Point, NC. The company covers The Triad, The Triangle, Charlotte, Hickory, Wilmington, Columbia SC.