Once the winter weather gives way to spring and then summer, pests and critters re-emerge to aggravate homeowners. None are quite so pesky and painful as the fire ant.
Fire ants are stinging insects, well known for their gingery coloring and sharp stingers. Native to South America, they were introduced to North America and specifically to Mobile, Alabama, in the 1930s via trade. They are a tough species and have even been known to survive floods. Fire ants have a dedicated venom-injecting stinger, as well as mandibles for biting.
In general, fire ant colonies consists of large mounds built up in an open area. These mounds range from one to three feet in height, depending on the size of a colony. If open space is not available, they will construct their nests beneath logs or large stones where they are not immediately visible on the surface.
Fire ants mostly eat plants and seeds, providing as much sustenance for the queen to breed constantly. Their numbers can increase rapidly; if a fire ant colony decides to move onto your property, the infestation can take over your home and yard quickly.
Are Fire Ants Dangerous?
Although most fire ants, particularly the workers, are small, they can be quite dangerous to humans and pets. One fire ant queen can live for up to seven years, producing as many as 1,000 eggs per day! Fire ants are more aggressive than most native species, so they have pushed many species away from their local habitat, such as the bumblebee, an integral part of our ecosystem.
Fire ants bite only to get a grip and then sting, injecting a toxic alkaloid venom called solenopsin. This is a painful sting for humans, a sensation similar to what one feels when burned by fire. Red bumps form at the sting, and within a day or two, they become white fluid-filled pustules. For most, fire ant stings end in pain and hives. However, there are a small number of the population that are fatally allergic to fire ants. In these cases, people experience severe chest pain, nausea, sweating, loss of breath, severe swelling, slurred speech, or anaphylaxis. One fire ant can sting multiple times, and since they are known to swarm, they are especially dangerous to children and pets.
What Attracts Fire Ants To A Property?
To protect yourself and other animals, it is essential to know what attracts fire ants in the first place. Fire ants are attracted to warmth and moisture. As a result, fire ants are far more active during spring and summer than in fall and winter. Homes with a pond, lake, pool, or leaky pipes are more susceptible to attracting fire ants. Like all insects, fire ants need to eat. They are particularly attracted to oily foods, animal feed, and other insects. As such, it is important to keep both human and pet food securely sealed at all times and take care to keep your property clean. A property free of debris and other insects will also keep fire ants at bay.
How To Keep Fire Ants Off Of Your Mobile Property
With all pests, the best offense is a good defense. Here are some tips to keep fire ants off of your property:
- Keep your lawn and shrubs trimmed.
- If you have fruit trees, pick up fallen fruit.
- Keep mulch away from the foundation of your home.
Despite your efforts to keep fire ants away, they could still become a problem in your yard.
DIY Methods To Eliminate Fire Ants
The most common methods to treat a fire ant infestation is to bait and drench. Baiting refers to small bait traps placed in and around the home. There are also liquid and powdered baits on the market designed to kill or sterilize fire ants.
Drenching refers to pouring an insecticide directly onto a fire ant mound. Some home remedies even suggest pouring boiling water on the mound.
While these methods may have results, they are also dangerous. If done incorrectly, they would only serve to anger the fire ants and cause them to swarm. Secondly, at-home methods will not eliminate all fire ants from your property. The most effective way to get rid of fire ants is to call a professional, like EnSec of Alabama.
Partner With EnSec For Effective Fire Ant Control
Our team at EnSec can ensure that the fire ants are safely removed from your property, both inside and outside. With experience on our side, we've developed a thorough, effective, and guaranteed fire ant program. Protect your Mobile home year-round with EnSec of Alabama. Reach out to us today to learn more!