Have you been properly introduced to the red imported fire ant? This ant species creates an average colony of 250,000 workers. The workers range in size from ⅛ to ⅜ of an inch in length. They are dark reddish brown and have an abdomen that is darker than the thorax and head. When they come into Raleigh yards, they build mounds. Lots of mounds. Inside these mounds, and within foraging tunnels that spread out as far as twenty feet in all directions, are innumerable workers ready to defend their colony at a moment’s notice. This makes fire ants a big problem. Here are a few more things every Raleigh resident should know about red imported fire ants.
Fire Ants Don’t Technically Bite
While we often say that we were bitten by fire ants, the reality is that fire ants don’t cause burning, itchy wounds by biting us. A fire ant stings the skin using a tiny stinger on the end of its abdomen, just like a wasp does. Like a wasp, they can sting multiple times. This is why you can get a surprising number of wounds in a very short period of time. It is important to understand that fire ants sting, rather than bite, because the venom they inject can cause an allergic reaction. In severe cases, it can lead to chest pains, difficulty breathing, swelling, sweating, slurred speech, flu-like symptoms, and worse. If you start to experience symptoms, seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Insect allergies can get worse with subsequent stings.
Most bites will be nothing more than an itchy, red wound with a white pustule at the center. While irritating, they aren’t a serious medical threat. The itch can last several days and sometimes more than a week. If you scratch at the wounds, you may create open wounds that could be subject to infection. Fire ant wounds can also be associated with swelling. If severe swelling occurs, you may need to take a trip to the hospital.
Fire Ants Don’t Always Stay In The Yard
These ants like to build their mounds in open, sunny areas. This might lead you to believe that they won’t get into your home. The ants you have to worry about are the species that create nests right next to your home, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Fire ant workers can travel as far as 100 yards in search of food sources. Stand just outside your home and consider putting a football field down. At the other end of that football field could be a fire ant colony that has sent workers out, and some of them could be exploring the exterior of your home in search or food. If you’re seeing mounds in the middle of your yard, a mere thirty feet from your exterior, those ants could start getting inside, especially if we have heavy rains and the ground becomes oversaturated. You should take steps to seal your exterior to keep fire ants out.
- Replace damaged screens on doors and windows.
- Seal gaps around window frames and fill in holes created by wood-damaging pests.
- Seal cracks in your foundation.
- Fill in gaps around plumbing and wire conduits.
- Replace weatherstripping and door sweeps that aren’t doing their job.
Fire Ants Are Hard To Exterminate
It is amazing how many things people try in an effort to get rid of fire ants. Some of the things we’ve heard about are downright dangerous. Before you decide to flood, spray, or blow up a fire ant mound, consider the following:
- Fire ants can escape your attempts to kill them in their mounds. They have exit holes in their foraging tunnels which, as we mentioned, can go as far as twenty feet out from the mound.
- Fire ants often create their nests deep in the ground. Some nests are as far as ten feet down. It is nearly impossible to eliminate nests by pouring something into it.
- Fire ant colonies have multiple queens. If you attack a colony, you could make your problem worse. The queens can split up and develop separate colonies.
The Best Solution For Fire Ants In Raleigh, North Carolina
At the first sign of a fire ant problem, contact Innovative Pest Solutions. Our licensed pest professionals use EPA approved products and field-tested methods to effectively eliminate fire ant colonies. If you have questions or you’d like to request service, speak with one of our agents today. We can help.