Fire ants won't damage your lawn, but build unattractive, potentially dangerous mounds.
Imported Fire Ants are aggressive, reddish brown to black ants that can be found in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. And, each year, fire ants continue their movement northward through the transition zone.
Not native to the U.S., these ants were likely carried on ships from South America in the 1930s and have since spread to most of the lower states. They have the potential to spread to anywhere with average temperatures above 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and where rainfall is greater than 10 inches per year, or in irrigated areas.
Fire ants don't damage turf, but they do construct nests which are often visible in home lawns as dome-shaped mounds of soil. The mounds tend to be in sunny open locations in lawns, but can also be found in cracks of side walks, around trees, under pavement and buildings, and occasionally indoors. Disturbing the mounds can lead to the ants emerging and aggressively biting and stinging the intruder. A white pustule usually appears within 24 hours of the sting. Although rare, fire ant stings can be deadly to humans who are allergic and fire ants can also attack pets, livestock and wildlife.
Clemson University Public Service and Agriculture
Usually in the spring and early summer winged imported red fire ant males and females fly from existing colonies or nests to mate in flight. Females after mating can fly as far as 12 miles from the nest, but most land within a mile looking for suitable areas to nest while all the males die after mating. After landing and finding a suitable nesting area the females will shed their wings and start to build their new colony laying over 2,000 eggs per day.
Established colonies contain eggs, larvae and pupae with adult ants of different types and they may not make conspicuous mounds for several months.
Fire ants are omnivorous feeders. They will feed on carbohydrates like honey dew, plant exudates, sugars and syrups as well as insect and meat proteins and lipids from grease, lard and oils from seeds. Fire ants will forage for food up to 100 feet from their nest both during the day and night depending on air temperature. If large quantities of a food source are found they will recruit other worker ants to help take the food back to the colony.
The spread of fire ants into new areas depends on many factors, such as existing fire ant populations, natural enemies that may prey upon newly mated queens, and climatic conditions. Fire ants have an ability to colonize areas faster than their native cousins so when areas are disturbed by land clearing, new pasture land or urban development they tend to colonize these areas quickly.
Due to the nature of imported red fire ants they cannot be eradicated completely with methods available today. They can be managed temporarily in small areas, with proper control methods and monitoring. However no method is 100 percent effective all the time and no method is completely permanent. The ants will reinvade, with new colonies usually appearing after the next rain and certainly within a year. Occasionally, fire ants can get indoors which requires different control measures.
Weed Man Weatherford, TX Can Help
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