How to Get Rid of Fire Ants: Identification
You must have realized by now that fire ants are not to be messed with. Bringing that bad attitude to your backyard, you need to get it sorted and fast.
Fire ants are very aggressive, and they won’t hesitate to bite. So, if you have an ant nest near your property, take a step back and read this guide first on how to get rid of fire ants.
What Do Fire Ants Look Like?
They belong to the family of ants and have a dullish red color. Sometimes, the color might range from reddish-black to reddish-brown. The worker fire ants boast a black color.
Then why fire? Well, the name fire comes from a burning sensation that accompanies the fire ant’s bite. Fire ants look like a regular ant, with a couple of differences.
First, they have two mandibles at the front of their mouth and their teeth further inside the mandibles. On top of that, they have a stinger at the end of the abdomen.
Fire Ant Biology and Behavior
Binomial Name (scientific name)
Solenopsis – Solenopsis Invicta and Solenopsis Richteri
How Big Is A Fire Ant?
Worker Fire Ants are typically 2-6 mm in length.
Head, thorax and abdomen. Fire Ants display a copper brown head and thorax with a darker abdomen.
Number of Legs
Yes. 10-segment antenna, and end in a two-segmented club
Red through to Reddish Brown. Although worker ants can be dark red through to black.
Fire Ants feed mainly on insects and small animals. Unlike many other ants, Fire Ants use their teeth to grip then sting from the abdomen. They are more aggressive than most native species of ant.
Fire Ant colonies for in large mounds in open areas often reaching as high as 40cm. They nest in moist soil near waterways or recently watered lawns.
How Big Is A Fire Ant Colony?
A standard size fire ant mound can house 100,000 to 500,000 worker ants. Yes, you read that right! To make matters worse the population will include hundreds of winged ants and one or more queen ants.
Fire Ant Queen
Like every good king and queen, the queen fire ants are tasked with ensuring that her population thrives. Fire ant queens typically develop wings and leave the existing habitat to find new nesting locations, most probably close to the original mound.
Fire ants mate in the air while flying. Once that is done, the male ant dies, and the female ant sheds her wings, digs a small hole in the ground, and lays the eggs.
Once they hatch, the queen feeds them and also feeds herself on the cannibalized eggs. So, with the help of the first batch of hatched fire ants, it begins another colony with a simple mission to grow on scale and invade new territories.
How Long Do Fire Ants Queens Live?
Where the worker ants can only live for about five weeks, the queen ant can live up to 7 years. Occasionally fire ants fight among each other for control of the mound. The losing queen fire ant is ungraciously beheaded.
Fire Ant Eggs
A full-grown queen fire ant can lay up to 1000 eggs per day. These eggs turn into larvae, and then on to fully grown fire ants. This whole process takes about 20 to 25 days. Due to this tremendous reproductive capability, the World Health Organization reports the fire ant quickly becomes the dominant arthropod species in areas they invade.
Fire Ant Distribution
Widespread across the South region of North America. Especially dense in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Black Fire Ant
Also called Black Imported Fire Ants, these 6-legged aggressive stinging machines landed on the gulf coast and a few other South-Eastern states by accident. Relative to the red fire ants, these small bullies can build more enormous mounds.
Red Fire Ant
Red imported fire ants are like their black cousins and equally aggressive. Typically biting insects only bite once to deter the threat, whereas Fire Ants can land repeated blows.
Imagine hundreds of fire ants stinging your feet and lower part of the leg repeatedly. The excruciating pain, red welts, and pustules are not easy to bear.
Red or Black Fire Ants Bite, Is It Fatal?
The bite of the ant itself is not fatal. However, multiple bites can trigger an allergic reaction, which can prove fatal, especially for children and old aged adults.
So, if you see mounds of fire ants anywhere near your home, be cautious and take the necessary measures to remove the risk.
How To Get Rid Of Fire Ants
When it comes to removing fire ants from your property, there are a few simple steps you can take to maximise your effectiveness.
Locate The Fire Ant Mound
The best method to identify the presence of fire ants in your vicinity is to locate the ant mound.
Generally, fire ants will make their mounds outdoors in the soil or on your lawn. First of all, their mounds resemble loose soil gathered on one surface.
Fire Ant mounds tend not to have a single distinguishable entry point. They display a dome shape and will be relatively low, rarely will they exceed 30 centimeters in height.
Over time tunnels start appearing on the mound surface and the Fire Ant activity begins to leave clues as to the ant’s presence. Once you’ve located the mound its time to deal with the aggressive beasts.
How To Kill Fire Ants. Fast!
There are several methods used to kill, treat, and prevent the further infestation of fire ants on your turf.
For the best results, it is a good strategy to go straight for the snake’s head and target the queen fire ant. Once you eliminate the queen reproduction will cease and you can eliminate the remaining worker population.
If possible treat the fire ants infestation early morning or late evening. During these cooler hours, there is a higher rate of foraging activity, and the ants will give away whereabouts and distribute any treatments you apply.
Now let’s look at the different methods of how to kill fire ants.
Fire Ant Killer Treatment For Lawns
Lawn treatments include the steps taken to first eradicate the existing mounds and prevent other mounds from popping up inadvertently. This two-pronged strategy often includes using a spray and then broadcasting granules across your lawn.
Fire Ant Pellets
Whereas a spray is effective for an immediate kill, the granules work in the aftermath of the spray and kill the leftover fire ants with insecticide granules. An effective application of granules will keep your lawn fire ant free for up to 6 months. So a worthy remedy when considering how to get rid of fire ants nesting in your lawn area.
The granules are broadcast across the whole lawn by hand or with a granule spreader. It is recommended to use a spreader for the best results and ensure even distribution.
Fire Ant Spray
Fire Ant spray is a toxic liquid ant killer. Spray it around the mound while taking care not to step directly onto the mound. Spray from the outside edge of the mount furthers from the center. Gradually work your way towards the middle of the mound.
Once the treatment has been applied, water the area allowing the insecticide to soak into the mound and surrounding soil. The worker ants and foragers will take the food back to the nest and ultimately the queen, eventually killing it.
Once you start spraying, the worker ants will quickly come to the surface and start to spread out. This is why it’s important to spray the chemical on the perimeter of the mound first and then move inwards, imitating a circular motion.
If the mound is backed by a wall, then move ahead from the outskirts to the other end of the mound in a horizontal manner.
The moment you start spraying, the worker ants will also hustle to protect the queen. Either they will take her deep inside the mound or relocate her to another mound nearby. That is why it is effective to combine the spray with the granules for a complete treatment.
Always wear a safety mask when spraying the chemical onto the mound. Spray it even on all the sides. Let the liquid soak into the mound and repeat the process.
Liquid Fire Ant Killer
Pour-on Insecticides can also be used to kill the fire ants by a method called drenching. These insecticides are highly volatile, which means that the moment they enter the mound, the fumes will spread throughout the tunnels, ultimately killing them.
Liquid Fire Ant Killer Application:
- Take a long vertical pipe and insert it inside the mound slowly.
- Dilute the insecticide with water and start pouring it inside the mound slowly.
Follow the instructions given on the package to know the composition of the mixture. Take note you will need large volumes of the mixture to get effective results.
Insecticides can also be sprayed outside the mound to ensure a 360° spread of the chemical.
Fire Ant Powder
Fire Ant powders use the same principle as granular bait. The main difference is the powder sticks to the ant’s body and will be distributed on their exoskeleton. Effecting the workers and the queen ant.
To apply powders successfully, do so on a wind free day. The powder is very lightweight and should not be inhaled.
To apply the powder, take 3 to 4 tablespoons (or as directed) and slowly spread it over the mound, without disturbing the ants or the mound structure.
Wait for 2 to 3 days and check the mound for signs of ant life. If ants are still present reapply the treatment.
How To Get Rid Of Fire Ants In The House
Indoor Fire Ant Spray
Wondering how to get rid of fire ants in the house or apartment?
Fire ants prefer to stay outdoors and nest in the ground. But if they can get their hands on an unlimited supply of food inside your house, they won’t miss out.
Keep your house free from remnants of food as not to leave an open invitation to the local ant population. Then spray the residual substance across areas of ant activity.
Ant spray is not an instant kill. It follows the same principle as the other treatments, whereby it is carried back to the nest for maximum effect.
Ant powder cam also be applied indoors, be sure to follow the manufacturers instructions.
Pet-Friendly Fire Ant Killer
Using the conventional methods of eradicating fire ants from your property can, in some ways, cause harm to your pets too. This is especially important for pets that are overly curious and like to sniff around.
Considering dogs have an acute sense of smell, its right to expect they will be attracted to the spray or baits spread across your lawn.
As a precautionary measure ensure that pets are always away while applying the treatment. If this is not possible use bait stations.
Bait stations are more conducive to a household with pets. The bait stations are self-structured compartments of different shapes and sizes that can be kept anywhere near the mound or directly above it.
The toxics used in the bait stations is similar to the granules or pellets. The ants take the bait and carry some with them back to the colony, spreading the poison inside.
Ants will take the bait because they want more food, always. For best results, use two baits, one for the inside and another for the outside.
This way, you will disallow the ants to relocate indoor or outdoors once they come to know about the danger.
How To Treat Fire Ant Bites
Now you know how to get rid of fire ants, let’s focus on how to treat an ant bite. You never know, these creatures are aggressive so its reasonable to expect a bite from one.
The Fire Ant sting, well is a sting, not a bite. The sting releases a venomous cocktail of 46 proteins into your body. This causes a burning sensation and itchiness. In itself, a single bite is painful but not harmful. However, multiple bites can cause an allergic reaction that can be fatal.
The Fire Ant uses its jaws to grip its victim then send out a venomous stinger from its abdomen to release its potent attack. There are reports of people suffering hallucinations from the effects of fire ant stings.
After the fire ants sting, make sure first to check the breathing of the person affected. Allergic reactions leading to anaphylactic shock could in rare cases cause death.
Swelling can be reduced with the application of an ice pack. With the appearance of welts and pustules, you may need to apply a sting relief gel or some antiseptic cream.
If any breathing issues emerge or the swelling fails to retreat after an hour, then it is time to go to the emergency room.
Fire Ant stings are more than likely to be innocuous but treat it seriously. Remember fire ant stings can cause an anaphylactic shock leading to death. Check the victims breathing and watch out for any unexpected allergic reaction.
Insect Bite Cream And Gels
Creams or gels with hydrocortisone can relieve itching skin. Further, it is also possible to get infected from a bite. To treat an infection try an antibiotic ointment which should prevent the spread of the infection.
Homemade Remedy For Fire Ant Bites
Essentials Oils For Fire Ant Bites
Essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties and are often used as a natural alternative treatment to help reduce pain and irritation.
Most commonly, Lavender, Wintergreen, and Basil infused essential oils are used to treat fire ant bites.
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