Has this ever happened to you? You make a trip to the grocery store, make up some yummy sandwiches and snacks, and maybe some fresh lemonade. You grab an old quilt, pack up the kiddos, and head out to the yard for a super, awesome picnic—then, get chased away by tiny, red, stinging ants before you are able to take your first bite! Trying to do anything in a yard that has been invaded by fire ants is pointless. You might as well just stay inside.
Where Did Fire Ants Come From?
It is believed that fire ants first showed up in the United States in the 1930s. They came first to Alabama, reportedly by cargo boats from South America. If you grew up in Texas, it is possible that you remember a childhood without fire ants. But in the last several decades, they have spread to other southern and southeastern states, including Texas.
The Anatomy Of A Fire Ant
If you are being bitten by tiny red ants, you don't need to look closely to know that they are fire ants. But it is still a good idea to know what they look like. Fire ants are typically dark red or reddish-brown in appearance. They are between ⅛ of an inch and ⅜ of an inch long, and they have two nodes between their thorax and abdomen.
The Problems With Fire Ants
Of all the ants that can plague you in Dallas, fire ants are the worst. Stings from these ants can leave painful, itchy welts with an associated pustule. Fire ant colonies are comprised mostly of female workers. They can contain over 200,000 worker ants and one queen which is responsible for laying eggs to keep the colony going. It can take several months for a colony to grow a mound that is noticeable. Because of this, it is easy to disturb a growing colony without realizing it, which can result in many painful stings.
If you are an able-bodied person and you step on a fire ant mound, chances are you will move away quickly before too many ants can attack. But problems arise for anyone who cannot get away, such as infants, small children, the elderly, or the disabled. And the venom of a fire ant can cause anaphylaxis for those who are allergic.
In addition to causing painful, itchy bites, or allergic reactions, fire ants are a problem when they get into electrical equipment. Like some other types of ants, they are attracted to electrical fields. When they invade in large numbers, they can cause electrical problems.
Can You Prevent Fire Ants On Your Own?
While there are some ways you can try to keep fire ants out of your home, totally keeping these ants off your property is difficult using DIY methods. You may try the following with some success:
Seal exterior trash in receptacles with tight-fitting lids so ants can't get in.
Eliminate or reduce water sources in your yard so ants do not have places to get a drink.
Make sure your foundation and exterior walls do not have any gaps, cracks, or holes ants can use to come inside.
If you feed pets outside, only put their food down at mealtimes.
Clean your yard of other food sources such as fallen fruits and vegetables and leftover cookout foods.
If you already have fire ants on your property, you can try reducing their numbers by using bait. This is the most effective way to treat for fire ants, but there are many ways baits can be ineffective. The best solution for getting rid of a fire ant infestation is to partner with a licensed and experienced service professional who can take care of the problem for you.
How All-Safe Can Help!
If you would like to be able to have picnics in peace on your Dallas property, All-Safe Pest & Termite can help! We can send a qualified, licensed pest professional to do a thorough inspection of your property, locate any fire ant colonies, and apply field-tested methods and products that will work to eliminate the ants in your yard. Reach out to us today to get started!