Fire Ant Facts and Pest Control
Gerald F. McKidman
How to Identify and Control Fire Ants
One of a homeowner’s worst nightmares is having any type of insect or rodent problem. Although most of these creatures are harmless, fire ants can be very dangerous to adults, children, and animals. When you see an insect problem in or around your home, it is always important to identify what type of insect it is in order to know how to best protect your home and control or eliminate the insect population. Here is a guide to identifying fire ants and tips on how to keep them out of your home and away from your family.
Information About Fire Ants
Fire ants are identified by their reddish brown to reddish black color and the stinger located on the backside of their bodies. These ants can range in size, from 1.6mm to 5mm. These insects typically nest in the ground, but the nests can become visible above ground and can hold colonies of up to 250,000 ants. These insects are very aggressive, known to be on the attack and sting or bite when they feel threatened. These ants are also omnivorous, meaning they will eat both animal and vegetable sources for food.
Although they are not native to North America, they have become a growing nuisance throughout the southern regions of the country. This species prefers warm, sunning weather conditions and will inhabit dry fields instead of shady wooded areas. These insects will thrive in underpopulated areas, can grow colonies of over several hundred thousand ants, and build mounds that can reach over 60cm wide and up to 18cm high. While the colony may be large, each group is controlled by a single queen.
Signs of Infestation and Preventive Measures
There are several signs that may indicate an infestation. First, the appearance of sandy mounds throughout the property can indicate a colony has taken root; these are most easily visible after rainfall. Another important indicator is the appearance of the worker ants or complaints of bites from an unknown source. While infestations are serious and should be handled by a professional exterminator, preventive measures can be taken.
The best prevention method for an insect infestation is to contact pest control professionals to do an inspection of the home and property as well as setting up a preventative maintenance program that is performed on a regular basis. As for home remedies, orange oil and boric acid have been reported to work well for warding off these insects. Additionally, make sure to keep your home and yard free of attractants for the ants, such as spilled liquids, open food containers, and stagnant water.