Facts About Fire Ants, How to Get Rid Of Them, and What to Do If You Are Bitten By One
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Facts About Fire Ants, How to Get Rid Of Them, and What to Do If You Are Bitten By One

Facts about fire ants. How to get rid of fire ants and treat fire ant bites.

There are several different species of ants but probably one of the most feared ants is the fire ant.  The fact is fire ants bite and their bites really hurt.  When they bite you they shoot a poisonous venom in to their victim that seeps in to the skin causing puss filled blisters in the area of the bite. 

Fire ants will bite living thing that comes in contact with their nests. it is said that up to 20 million people are bitten by fire ants each year.  Unfortunately for some it can be fatal if they happen to be allergic to the bites. 

Fire Ants originated in South America but somehow made their way over to Central American and can be found in many southern states.  Fire ants invade in large numbers and are not too picky about where they move in.  They will take up residence outside or inside homes, or other buildings.  They pretty much dominate the area where they live making it difficult for other animals or insects to live where they do. They also cause great harm to where they move in even effecting plant life and destroying property.  Like most ants fire ants rely on their colonies to survive. 

What Distinguishes Fire Ants From Other More Harmless Ants

It is sometimes difficult to recognize fire as most people might suspect them to be ordinary ants but it is important to know the characteristics about them that are different from the common harmless ant.  The most notable thing about them is their color.  They are a dark reddish brown color on most of their body and their abdomens are darker in color. They also have very high mounds.  Their mounds can be up to 15 inches tall while most common ants mounds are only a few inches tall.  If you see large ant mounds head the other direction as quickly a possible.  Another type of ant who has large mounds are the Allegheny Mound Ants whose mounds can be even larger than the fire ant mounds.  You don't want to have an encounter with those either so  if you see any mound more than a few inches tall or wide get away quickly.

The Feasts of Fire Ants

Fire ants will eat pretty much anything.  They will eat plants and will also eat other insects as well as small mammals, and things such as turtles, and snakes.  They are not so picky about the plants they eat either, they will eat young trees, sapling of trees, seeds, fruit, vegetation and grass.

Fire ants use their mandibles to chew and break into things however they only consume liquids.  The fire ants that are the ones in the colony that scout for food also store the liquid in their bellies to bring back to the colony to share with the other fire ants.  They have two stomachs and one is used for storing food to bring back. When they get back to the rest of the ants they regurgitate the liquid for the rest of the ants in the colony.  There is no special treatment everyone feeds equally. 

Breeding of Fire Ants

Like most ants and other insects eggs are laid by the queen. A queen can lay between 1500 and 1600 eggs per day. After about 30 days the eggs hatch some will be winged male, and some will be winged females, the rest will be females who are relegated to duties such as building tunnels and guarding the nests.  In North American a colony of fire ants can have more than one queen, but usually no more than 7.  At times winged males and winged female fire ants will take off and form colonies of their own.  The winged female will then become a queen while the male will soon Rest in Peace after mating. 

Getting Rid of Fire Ants

There is some debate on methods for getting rid of fire ants.  Some strongly believe that it is important to only try to get rid of the fire ants without out disturbing the other harmless ants in the area because the other ants will help to keep the fire ants from returning because they will help to keep back the food supply that might attract the fire ants.  Those who subscribe to this way of the thinking believe that you should not use baits to kill fire ants because other ants will also fall prey to these baits.  Baits work because those who search for food will ingest the poison and then bring it back to share with their colony therefore killing the entire colony. 

There are natural ways to get rid of fire ants and products especially for getting rid of them.  If you prefer to go with the product approach one thing you can try is a two prong approach using two different products the first is Green Light Natural Fire Ant Killer with Conserve this works as a bait that the fire ants take back to the nest.  Keep in mind this will likely also kill other ants and insects in the vicinity. The second product recommended for the two prong approach is Orange Guard Organic Fire Ant Killer.  You use the Orange Guard Organic Ant Killer to dredge the nest.  You mix it with extremely hot water and pour it on the mounds.  You must make sure to pour it on every mound in the yard even the small ones or they will just re-infest the area.

A natural method for getting rid of them is by pouring extremely hot water mixed with dish soap on the mound.  First shovel the opening off of the mount and then pour the hot water in to the mound.  Then pour it on any area you shoveled up, you might want to bring more than one bucket out with you.  Also remember to wear work gloves, work boots, long socks and tuck your pants in to the boots.  Once you get to the mound work very quickly.  You may need to repeat this. 

What to Do If you are Bit By a Fire Ant

Do not squish the fire ant, swat it off you and quickly get away from the nest.  You will then treat it like you would any other insect bite.  Go inside and wash the bite with soap and water.  Then make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the bite.  As a precaution in case you might be allergic it might be wise to take some Benadryl.  Keep an eye out for any symptoms of allergies such as swelling, dizziness, nausea, or shortness of breath. If you experience any of these things seek medical attention immediately. 

If you want to go the medicinal route there is a product called Litigator Sting and Bite Treatment Scrub.  If you live in an area where fire ants are or plan to go camping where they might be you might want to keep some of this in your first aid kit. 

Keep Fire Ants Out of Your House

To keep fire ants out pour boric acid all around the permutes of your home and in to any foundation cracks any where, where they can enter the house. Spray them with extremely hot water mixed with laundry detergent.  After they have perished clean them up off of the floor and then clean the floor right away.  

It is also known that fire ants and even many rodents hate the smell of mint.  Planting mint around the perimeters of your home will help keep unwanted pests away.  Mint does grow rapidly though so keep that in mind. 

Note:  I am not affiliated in any way what so ever with any of the products mentioned in this article nor have I been solicted by them or paid by them.

Photos credit:  Google images

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Comments (2)

A very authoritative discussion of fire ants. I have had more than one painful encounter with those critters during my years of living in the southwestern states.

angel pozo

well im in school wered debateing im a squisher nd this whos going against a non- squisher any suggestions