Every summer you see them. Red mounds, rising up over lush green lawns. Usually after a good rain we start seeing these mounds pop up. Recently we have had a lot of rain. In fact Greenville received over 7 inches of rain in May, while Columbia received almost 5 inches. With all that rain you can bet you’ll be seeing those familiar mounds popping up all over.
Those mounds don’t represent new colonies though. The new mounds are actually from established colonies, that have had dirt, mud, & debris flooded into their tunnels & chambers from heavy rains. After the rains the fire ants have to excavate all that dirt & debris. These colonies can be as deep as 20 feet underground. This is why some mounds can reach up to 18 inches high.
Dangers of disturbing Fire Ants
Fire ants are very aggressive. Fire ants will attack anything that disturbs them. Fire ants like to attack in groups. When a mound is disturbed there could be a hundred or more fire ants ready to attack. Unlike most insects that either sting or bite, fire ants do both. They bite with their strong jaws then inject a venom with their rear stinger. This sting will result in itching & burning, followed by a blister. If left alone the blister should disappear in just a few days. It is possible to start a secondary infection from scratching.
In heavy rains or flooding, fire ants will sometimes abandon their underground home and join together to create a floating liferaft. If you see one of these rafts of fire ants, steer clear of it.
Serious reactions to fire ant stings
1 out of 200 people will have a serious allergic reaction to fire ant sting. People who have had bad reactions from wasp, bees, & yellow jacket stings should be careful, you are more likely to be allergic to fire ant stings. Watch for swelling of the face and neck, difficulty breathing, hives, nausea, dizziness, and chest pains. If any of these occur seek IMMEDIATE Medical Assistance. Failure to have serious reactions treated can result in death. Over a dozen people in the US die every year from allergic reactions to fire ants.
Fire ant treatment
Fire ant control can be very difficult for someone who isn’t trained. Treating just mounds without a broadcast treatment of the lawn will not work. While it will kill some of the colony that are excavating those materials from their networks of tunnels, it will not get those fire ants that are deeper underground. Like many other types of ants, fire ants use tunnel entrances all over your lawn that you can not see. They do not typically use the mounds as entry/exit access. Fire ants forage and feed early morning and evening when it is cooler. Fire ant colonies can have several queens. If you don’t kill the queen then you can’t get rid of the fire ants. Queen fire ants can lay up to 1,000 eggs a day. It doesn’t take them long to rebuild their numbers.
Do you need help with Fire Ant Control?
Walker Pest Management can help you keep the fire ants at bay, allowing you & your family to enjoy the yard again.