Fire ants are not native to the United States but have recently started to move into our area. They were accidentally brought into the country in the 1930s via a shipment of cargo, first in Alabama and then spreading to other states. Fire ants can commonly be found throughout the southern part of the United States, from Maryland to Texas, California and New Mexico. In our state of Virginia, fire ants can be found in some urban areas. They are very resilient and aggressive, inflicting painful bites and stings without provocation.
Identification; What Does a Fire Ant Look & Act Like?
Fire ants have copper brown heads and bodies with darker abdomens. They are 1/8 to 3/8 inches in size. The worker ants will be blackish to reddish in color and smaller. You will see large mound nests that are flattened, irregular in shape and can be anywhere from two to four square feet large. These mounds can get as high as 16 inches and can be found in open areas. Fire ants will feed mainly on young plants and seeds but they aren’t picky. They will also feed on animal or vegetable sources of food. Fire ants do not hibernate and can survive extreme conditions. In a well-established colony, you will see ants of three different sizes at the same time and can have 100,000 to 5,000,000 ants. Fire ants can kill a small animal during an attack.
Fire Ant Bites & Stings
Many ants bite and then spray acid on the wound but fire ants will bite to get a grip and then sting from the abdomen and inject a toxin. If a fire ant nest is disturbed, they will sting and these stings are painful. The result can be raised welts that will turn into white pustules. The pustules can get infected if they are scratched but will disappear within a few days if left alone. To avoid any scarring try and leave them alone. External treatments like hydrocortisone creams and oral medications are the best way to treat fire ant stings. There will be multiple stings and if a person is allergic to the stings there will have more severe reactions. Signs of a severe allergic reaction include severe chest pain, nausea, severe sweating, loss of breath, serious swelling and slurred speech. These symptoms can be fatal if ignored so get medical help right away.
Preventing Fire Ants
Fire ants will come into a new area through plotted plants, shrubs and trees. They will build nests around structural foundations or in landscaping and while they prefer to be outside they can get into our homes through HVAC systems and AC units. These ants will bring soil with them into the house and into the walls or under first floor bathrooms to start building a nest. Seal all cracks and cervices that these ants can use to get into your home.
Indoor & Outdoor Ant Control
Many homeowners find that DIY baits are ineffective as fire ants are very good at reinvading so it’s best to get in touch with professional pest control if you notice fire ant activity. We can conduct a thorough inspection and present a custom plan as to how best take care of your fire ant problem and make sure fire ants can’t get into your home. Fall is the ideal time to treat for fire ants to reduce populations over the winter. Contact Exterminating Unlimited, Inc. to treat your ant or other pest infestation.