If you have ever had the misfortune to encounter even a few unhappy fire ants, you know well the pain and discomfort they can cause. These aggressive, violent, even deadly, tiny insects can turn your yard into a veritable minefield, ruining your outdoor fun. The best way to defeat your enemy, though, is to know it. Understanding fire ants can help you keep them out of your yard and away from your family.
Fire Ant Colonies and Queens
Fire ants can be found all over the world. There are more than 20 fire ant species globally, and at least four of which are native to the U.S. The most common fire ant species that is familiar to most people though, is the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) which is actually native to Argentina. They were first detected in Alabama, near Mobile around 1930. Since then, this tiny pest has been found as far as central Texas to the west, and as far as Virginia to the north, but significant populations have also been noted in southern California. What’s more, over the past decade the invicta has also made its way to Taiwan, China, and Australia – from the United States.
Aside from their brutal aggressiveness, their sheer numbers also contribute to why the invicta is such a problem. One colony can house as many as 300,000 workers to one queen. When there is only one queen to a colony, then there is just one mound. This species of fire ant is extremely territorial; so, there must be some space between mounds. However, they don’t need much space. Researchers have found as many as 100 single queen mounds contained within just one acre.
Massive, single queen colonies are not the only problem with the invicta. They can also form multiple queen colonies and spread them out across many mounds. This can mean literally hundreds of mounds across a single acre. This greatly increases the fire ant population. If one single queen mound houses 300,000 workers, consider for a moment how many ants are in two hundred mounds – the number reaches millions.
Understanding Fire Ants: The Aggressive Foe
Fire ants are omnivorous, meaning that they are both vegetarian and carnivorous – and they are very aggressive in pursuing their food as well as defending their territory. When a mound is disturbed, the workers will come pouring out, ready to defend their queen and colony. They are also very aggressive foragers as well. Research shows that when a dead cricket is placed on the ground near a fire ant mound, they will find it in less than 15 seconds. So if you are standing near a fire ant mound, your chances are very good that they will find you too – quickly.
Fire ants have stingers in their abdomens that deliver an injection of venom that kills the cells at the sting site. One sting makes its victim feel as if they are being burned – hence the name, fire ants. They don’t just sting once, though. They sting over and over so a single ant can deliver numerous painful stings in one attack. The venom can also cause some serious reactions, including anaphylactic shock.
Protecting your home and family from fire ants should be a priority.
If you have fire ants on your property, we can help. Call North Fulton Pest Solutions to handle your fire ant problem. Even if you have only discovered a single mound on your property, know that they can multiply in no time. Our knowledgeable, experienced technicians will inspect your property and help you get rid of fire ants – and keep them from returning.