How To Deal With Fire Ants In Texas

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Fire ants

Living in Texas has many perks, but contending with fire ants is not one of them. Today, we’ll show you how to identify, control, and prevent fire ants from ruining your Texas lawn.

Fire Ants: An Invasive Threat 

Living in Texas, we are lucky to have great weather for most of the year. Unfortunately, that same great weather is also inviting to dangerous pests like fire ants. Fire ants are known for their painful stings. When a fire ant attacks, it first bites to latch on and then stings with its stinger located on its abdomen. The stinger injects a toxic alkaloid venom called solenopsin, causing severe pain and life-threatening allergic reactions to those vulnerable. The threat from fire ants is two-fold. Not only are they dangerous, but they can also cause considerable damage to your lawn with their constant tunneling and excavating. Not to mention, their large mounds can dull or damage the blades on your lawnmower.

Where Do Fire Ants Live?
If you have lived in the south your entire life, you might be under the impression that fire ants have always been here, but that’s not the case. If you go back a few generations, you will find that people didn’t have to deal with fire ants. That’s because they are an invasive species from South America. They hitched a ride on fruit trucks and found the climate perfect, like many of us have. Today, fire ants have flourished and can be found in every state in the south. It didn’t take long for people to catch on and give these pests the name we all know and love.

People in the south quickly learned the hard way that these foreign fire ants were much more ill-tempered than their North American counterparts. They were also much more resilient and resistant to ant control products of the time.

How To Identify Fire Ants
The first step to controlling fire ants is to identify them. Here are some identifying signs of fire ants.

  • Fire ants come in many different sizes.
  • Fire ants are reddish-brown to reddish black.
  • They have bent antennae rather than straight like other species.
  • Nests have multiple entry points.
  • Extremely aggressive response when disturbed.
  • Painful stings that develop into blisters.

The first signs of fire ants, other than someone getting stung, are the mounds of dirt that spring up in your yard. By this time, the colony is already matured and could contain hundreds of thousands of angry ants. Some colonies can reach over a million ants and take over an area the size of an acre.

Controlling Fire Ants
When it comes to controlling fire ants, there are two main avenues you can take.

Mound Treatments
These are usually poisoned bait that can be applied over the mound. It can be coated on grains or other food sources as well. The poison is slow-acting, so the ants can eat it and still have time to bring some back to the nest before they die. While this method can eliminate a colony, it cannot prevent a new colony from springing up elsewhere.

Season-Long Treatments
Season-long treatments, like the kind used by professionals, are long-lasting applications that keep fire ants out of your yard all year. They can be purchased at any hardware and require a fertilizer spreader to apply. For best results, treatment should be applied in early spring.

Hire The Pest Experts at Lawn Lab
At Lawn Lab, we want you and your family to stay safe from fire ants. With our effective fire ant program, we can ease your mind by eliminating and keeping these pests out all year.

Stinging Menace: Identifying and Controlling Fire Ants In Texas

Here in Texas, we have to put up with a lot of pests but none are as nasty or as annoying as fire ants. These pests aren’t just an inconvenience to you and your lawn care duties, they are also downright dangerous. If you live in Texas, then you need to be aware of the dangers that fire ants pose to your yard and your family.

Fire ant stings are extremely painful and can be life-threatening if you are allergic to fire ant venom. Aside from inflicting physical pain, fire ants can also cause a great deal of damage to your grass. As the colony grows, the ants feed on the tender roots of your grass and other plants. 

Fire Ants Are Not Native To The US

Fire ants have been menacing homeowners in Texas for generations, but it wasn’t always that way. Fire ants only came to the US in the 1930s on fruit trucks or ships importing fruit from South America. They adapted quickly to our warm climate and quickly populated the southern United States. These fire ants are much more aggressive than our native version and much more resistant to other ant control products. 

How To Identify Fire Ants

Before you take steps to control fire ants you need to make sure that you have fire ants in the first place.

  • Fire ants are all different sizes, not uniform like other species.
  • Reddish-brown to reddish black.
  • Bent antennae.
  • No central hole in the mound.
  • Disturbing the mound results in an aggressive full-colony response.
  • Burning stings that develop into fluid-filled blisters.

As the colony grows you will start to see a mound form on the surface of the grass. This is usually the first sign of fire ant activity. By this time the colony is over half a million ants and the tunnels can spread for over an acre. It goes without saying to use extreme caution when dealing with fire ants.

Fire Ant Control

You can spray and kill fire ants on the surface all day but you will never get rid of them that way. The only way to stop fire ants is to eliminate the Queen. While it may sound like a sci-fi movie, it’s actually the most efficient way to control your ant problem. If the queen is still alive then she can replace the ants you kill just as fast. With the queen dead, the ants will either die or move on to other colonies. 

Treating The Nest

Treating the nest doesn’t work 100% of the time but it is the safer more economical option and should be your first. Nest treatment involves placing poison bait on the surface. Worker ants then come and take the poison back into the nest and feed it to the queen. 

Long-Term Treatments

If you want to get rid of fire ants and prevent them from returning, there are products that are effective all year long. These are usually applied to your entire yard in early spring. If done correctly, it should prevent fire ants from colonizing your yard. But if you have a real problem with fire ants you should call the professionals to get it taken care of right away.

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