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Firing the Fire Ants - How To Get Rid Of Fire Ants
Having confessed that I am a roach killer, it probably surprises no one that I am also a mass murderer of the fire ant population. I don't believe anyone who has ever encountered these devils in disguise, is going to judge me. I simply hate fire ants!
What most people don't know (especially those living in colder climates where fire ants have not yet spread) -- Everyday, they kill armadillos, cattle, deer, fish, possums, raccoons, snakes, quail, lizards, songbirds, and occasionally very allergic humans (primarily children and the elderly).
Far worse, the fact is -- they cannot be eradicated completely by anything currently known to mankind. These insect pests aren't limited to rural agricultural areas, because they also invade urban areas and will infest your home if the conditions are right.
These aggressive and stinging little buggers, first appeared in the United States in the 1930s. It's believed that they arrived in Mobile, Alabama on board ships, having stowed away on ships in the soil used in ballasts. Ever since that time, they have been marching and increasing their territories -- from east to west across the south and inching north in warmer states.
Their increased presence isn't just a United States problem, they are also invading Mexico and other countries. As a species, ants have been around since the dinosaur days. Of the twelve thousand species of ants -- I nominate fire ants as our number one enemy.
Since they serve no useful purpose, meaning they are not a beneficial insect -- we need to fire the fire ants -- as they have no job skills that warrant their peaceful co-existance on our planet. Here in Florida, they are public enemy #1.
Red Fire Ants
Fire Ant Bites
As far as I am concerned, no other insect bite is as painful, or has such a long lasting that that of the fire ant. Remember once a nest is disturbed, hundreds of fire ants can swarm you in seconds. The first step in dealing with fire ant bites is prevention:
- Avoid getting stung in the first place by being alert to nests and mounds nearby;
- Do not disturb mounds;
- Teach children about the dangers of fire ants at an early age;
- If you have fire ants, you need to keep very young children away from the area infested with fire ants;
- Always wear protective clothing if you must work in an area where there are fire ants (i.e. boots, long pants, long sleeved shirts, etc.);
- Remember they can sting you repeatedly;
- Manage your fire ant population as best you can.
Secondly, if you are bit (stung) by fire ants:
- Immediately get them off of you by brushing them off;
- Remove any clothing that may be hiding more fire ants;
- Wash the affected area with soft and water;
- Disinfect the area with rubbing alcohol;
- Place an ice bag on the affected area for at least 15 minutes;
- Use Benadryl or other similar anti-itch creme;
- Consider using an oral antihistamine;
- Do not pop the pustules as this can lead to infection.
Other Home Remedies for Fire Ant Bites
Some home remedies that may or may not work, but are worth trying:
- Applying meat tenderizer
- Aloe gel
- Baking soda and water paste
- Calamine lotion
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Orange Oil
Some May Have Allergic Reactions
Some people may have highly allergic reactions to fire ant bites. This is particularly true of infants and the elderly. If the victim has any of the following (anaphylaxis) symptoms, you must seek immediately medical help:
- Chest pains
- Difficulty breathing
- Mental confusion
- Swelling of tongue and throat
Note: Diabetics and individuals with other circulatory illnesses are at special risk and should consult their physician if stung by fire ants.
Part 1 - Fire Ant Attack On Baby
Part II - Fire Ant Attack on Baby
Not Just Our Problem
Fire ants are not just an American problem, fire ants have also invaded:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
U.S. Areas With Fire Ant Populations
Locations where fire ants are a problem:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- Puerto Rico
- South Carolina
Types of Fire Ants
Many people don't know that there are four types of fire ants:
- The Red Imported Fire Ant - Solenopsis invicta
- The Black Imported Fire Ant - Solenopsis richteri
- The Southern Fire Ant - Solenopsis xyloni
- The Native Fire Ant - Solenopsis geminata (aka Tropical fire ant)
Outside of Killer Bees -- No Fiercer Enemy
Fire Ant Warfare
The science of fire ant warfare, is complicated by the fact that they have no known natural predators. Your first line of defense, as it is with any insect invader, is to understand their habits.
Know The Habits of Thy Enemy
As with any insect pest, you should first know their habits in order to control the level of their infestation:
- Fire ants primarily feed on young plants, seeds, and other insects;
- Fire ants will attack small animals and amphibians;
- Fire ants will work as a unit to kill, both by biting and squirting their alkaloid venom (piperidine) on the bite;
- They prefer to locate their nests in moist and hidden soil (logs, rocks, brick, landscape material, concrete, etc.);
- Additionally, we humans are our own worst enemy, as we are the primary transporters of migrating fire ants;
- They are also spread by natural disasters, such as flooding;
- They destroy many crops;
- They will infest electrical equipment;
- They will infest insulation;
- They will infest compost piles;
- Their mounds can be as deep as six feet;
- They are attracted to electrical motors;
Crops That Fire Ants Do The Most Damage To
- Citrus trees
- Fruits of many plants
- Trees (bark)
Controlling Fire Ants
The best that we can hope for is to control fire ants. There are a number of options to accomplish this:
- Organic Fire Ant Control
- Pesticide Fire Ant Control
- Combinations of Fire Ant Control, such as a dual step or two-step approach
Actually, the best you can hope for is to:
- Reduce the population;
- Control the population;
- Move the population off your property.
Remember: Regardless of what method you use, you are going to have on-going problems with these pests. They are apparently here to stay, although there is some hope that parasitic Phorid fly extremely deadly to the Red Imported Fire Ant. Experiments are being conducted to see if this provides a solution to the problem of fire ants.
Fire Ant Poison
Fire ant poisons or insecticides include:
- Raid Fire Ant Killer
It is recommended products containing Hydramethylnon are the most effective and fastest acting for ridding yourself of fire ants.
Also, the two-step method of control is preferred -- meaning use the insecticide and follow up later with boiling water and drenching of the mound.
Organic Fire Ant Killing Methods
The least toxic organic fire ant killing methods that work are:
- Green Light Organic Fire Killer
- Orange Guard Fire Ant Killer
- Safer Fire Ant Bait
- Garden-ville Fire Ant Control
- Green-Sense Soil Drench
- Citrus Oil
Lesser known and home remedies:
- Artificial sweeteners poured on the mounds;
- Grits poured on the mounds;
- Boiling water in large amounts poured on the mounds;
Do not pour gasoline and burn them out. This method is extremely dangerous and not recommended.
Rumor Has It
Reports are that fire ants are now known to be capable of playing dead. Ants from an attacking colony will find the young fire ants curled up, as those they are dead, while the older fire ants will fight to the death. Once the invaders leave, the young fire ants will uncurl and come back to life.
Still More On Fire Ants and Other Kinds of Ants
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