Where do fire ants come from? Red and black imported fire ants Solenopsis invicta , and S. There are several Solenopsis fire ant species native to the U. Why do we have them now? Red imported fire ants are a very aggressive, efficient competitor ant species.
They now infest the more than the eastern two-thirds of the state, and some urban areas in western Texas. The bad news is that they are probably here to stay. The good news is that, with relatively little cost and effort, you can prevent most of the problems they cause using currently available methods. Research efforts can result in even more cost-effective, environmentally sound fire ant management systems. Are fire ants still moving west and north? Yes, and south, too. Their northward spread has reached the middle of Oklahoma where their survival depends on freezing soil temperature conditions.
Cold winters tend to push them back. Western spread is largely dependent on availability of surface or ground water. However, with human assistance they have begun to infest parts of California where they are found mostly in urban areas, creek bottoms and irrigated land. Why do fire ants appear to sting at the same time? Fire ants are sensitive to vibration or movement and tend to sting when the object they are on moves. Usually, whatever causes one ant to bite and stings triggers the other ants to sting to the same response. Although fire ants emit communication chemicals, called pheromones, to elicit specific behaviors alarm reaction, trail formation, queen recognition pheromones have been documented , there is no known pheromone stimulating ants to bite and sting.
Are fire ant stings lethal?
Very young and old people and those with suppressed immune systems are most likely to react severely to one or more stings. However, even healthy individuals may experience severe reactions such as anaphylactic shock if they suffer from a multiple stinging incident. What should I do if I get stung by fire ants? If this occurs, seek medical attention.
Otherwise treat stings as you would stings of other insects and keep them clean and intact to avoid secondary infections. What if I have an allergic reaction to a fire ant sting? Seek medical help immediately! If you are uncertain how your body will react, be sure to let someone know what has happened.
It is best to be with other people that can assist you, if necessary. Are fire ants as lethal as killer bees? This is kind of like comparing apples to oranges. Africanized bees can overwhelm and kill even healthy non-allergic people, but encounters are rather rare.
But, fire ant mounds are extremely common. The chance of being killed by bees is higher if you encounter them, but the chance of being killed by fire ants is greater only if you are highly allergic, or cannot quickly get away from them.
The chance of either is small. Fire ants are killing the quail, deer, lizards, songbirds, horn toads, etc. Wildlife inhabit very large areas, making the cost of periodic treatments prohibitive. Research is being supported to document the impact of the imported fire ant on wildlife and evaluate management approaches such as the establishment of natural enemies of fire ants from their native habitat.
While some wildlife species are undoubtedly declining due to fire ants, there are other factors influencing the decline, such as land use practices and weather extremes. There is hope that the biological control agents released and established in any parts of the state and currently under investigation will permanently reduce imported fire ant populations.
Are fire ants killing my trees? The ants are mainly using the trees as a nesting place. Ants in mounds occurring at the base of the trunk are probably not causing any damage to well established trees, and may actually be helpful by preying on other insects that are feeding on parts of the tree, and reducing compaction by tunneling in the soil.
In Florida, however, imported fire ants do girdle trunks and kill newly planted citrus trees. Why do fire ants get into laundry?
Laundry piles are convenient places that present lots of tunnels for the ants. They may be attracted to moisture or food residue or oils on soiled clothing. Often, reports of ants in laundry occur following a flood or severe drought.
Ants are observed in utility rooms, bathrooms or near the water heater where they have access to the area from outside. When it floods they move into any good dark place, but in drought conditions they tend to move to moist areas. Can fire ants be eradicated completely? Red imported fire ants cannot be eradicated completely with methods available today in large areas of infestation like in the southeastern United States.
But with proper control methods, they can be reduced or eliminated temporarily from small areas. Their biology and spread make it economically, technically and ecologically impossible to eradicate them from larger areas. However, recent efforts have been made to eradicate this ant species from small isolated infestations in California and around Brisbane, Australia.
Preventative Veterinary Medicine 17 Federal government websites always use a. How can I tell the difference between fire ants and termites? Share: Facebook Twitter Email. How do I eliminate fire ants from my yard?
To date, these efforts have not been documented to be a success. What is the best product for killing fire ants? Texas Extension Service Extension does not endorse specific products. However, educational materials produced by Extension specialists provide information that will allow you to make the best choice for your situation.
How do I eliminate fire ants from my yard? There is no single, easy answer for every situation. Other methods may more suitable for smaller lots, where greater control is required or where fewer ants occur and native ant preservation is desired. The Two Step is a proven method of reducing imported fire ant populations in heavily infested home lawns and ornamental turf. Briefly, it is the: 1 once or twice per year broadcast application of a bait product , and 2 treating unwanted active nuisance mounds at any time between these broadcast treatments using an individual mound treatment such as a dust, granule, bait, drench insecticide or home remedy such as use of very-hot water as a drench.
By allowing for the bait treatment to take effect this method reduces the over-reliance on use of individual mound treatments and is suitable for treating larger areas. Why tackle fire ants in the fall? An ideal time to apply bait-formulated fire ant insecticides is from late August through October to allow the baits to reduce fire ant populations over the winter.
Many bait products are somewhat slow-acting. Bu applying the in late summer or early fall, ant mound numbers will already be suppressed by early spring. Also, early spring application of slower acting products will not produce maximum effects until later in the spring or early summer.
Look out for nests that look like mounds of loose sifted soil with no obvious entry or exit hole.