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Where There's Smoke, There's Fire Ants in Atlanta

May 30, 2018

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Causing immense, hard-to-eliminate infestations, ants are bad enough as is. But add the ability to sting to the mix, and they’re no longer a nuisance pest. Now, they’re also a health threat. That’s the concern fire ants bring to the table, and it’s ever more concerning that this species is found through our state of Georgia, including Atlanta, GA. They love our sunny weather conditions as much as we do, making them a pest you may someday have to battle in your backyard.

Where Exactly Do Fire Ants Come From?

Fire ants earned their name from their ability to inflict painful stings. Often called “red imported fire ants,” it’s obvious, then, that they came from somewhere else. That somewhere else is Brazil. The pests were introduced to the United States around 1940, but the exact method of introduction is unknown. Since then, they’ve quickly spread throughout the southeastern United States, as they love the warm conditions.

The ant species has already infested more than 260 acres of the southern U.S., and they’re becoming a bigger problem. More than 40 million Americans dwell in fire ant-infested areas – and this includes the 10 million that live in our state of Georgia. On top of that, with their threat to inflict painful stings, they’re a constant threat to our region. Somewhere between 30 and 60 percent of people who live among the ants end up stricken with their stings.

How Do Fire Ants Differ from Other Ants? 

Fire ants stand apart due to their stinging ability, and it's not only this characteristic that makes them unique. They have 10 segments per antenna, with a bend in the first. Their pincer-like jaws called mandibles help them crush prey. They're known for their striking reddish-brown body. They use their stinger, located on the tip of their abdomen, when threatened. The bottom section of their abdomen (gaster) is black in color.

Fire ants measure from 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch long. With their ability to sting, it’s no surprise that they differ from other ants in terms of their aggressiveness. Their stings are painful to humans, and they do much more damage to insects and small animals (often mutilating or killing them). If the pests are disrupted, they will attack as one unit. When disturbed, the ants will begin spilling out ready to attack – and each will sting repeatedly.

But before you’re inflicted with painful stings, there are other ways to determine the ant you’re dealing with. Fire ants are red in color, and they’re recognizable by the two bumps that they have between the abdomen and thorax. Like other ants, they have a bend in their antennae, but they stand out in that they have 10 separate segments, with the bend occurring in the first (the other nine segments are after the bend).

Fortunately, you probably won’t ever confront a colony in your home or business as you would with most other ants. Fire ants typically nest outdoors in open areas. Parks and fields are usually primary targets, but yards can be as well. There, they build mounds that are often enormous in size. While they only sting if disturbed, it’s common for home and business owners to have accidental – and unpleasant – run-ins.

Safe Ways of Identification

Your initial encounter with fire ants will likely be with their mounds. They range in size from small bumps to 18 inches tall. If you run into a fire ant mound, it won’t feature an opening on the top like other ant mounds. In addition to their craving for sunny and warm areas, they also crave humidity – that means you may see a mound in your lawn following a rainy period. One mound, measuring around two feet in diameter and seven inches high, may house more than 200,000 ants. Talk about dangerous…

Fire ants are usually spotted in large outdoor mounds. Visible mounds belong to colonies that have already been established extensively underground. Unlike most ant mounds, the tops of fire ant mounds are closed. It's important to not disturb a mound, or else, ant entire colony may come after you to sting.

If you’ve come across an ant mound on your property and want to see what kind of ants have moved in (fingers crossed they aren’t fire ants), check out their behavior by doing the following:

  1. Purposefully disturbing the nest with a pole, shovel, or a long stick.
  2. Moving away from the nest quickly to prevent the ants from climbing up the item you’re holding.
  3. Observing the behavior of the ants. If the mound on your property is filled with fire ants, they’ll start to swarm almost immediately.

Fire Ant Management Tips

Beyond tapping a mound, it’s best you don’t go any further when dealing with fire ants. Not only do they sting in large numbers, but they’re also capable of causing allergic reactions in many – this may result in a hospital visit or worse, even death in rare cases. But even if they didn’t sting, they’d still be hard to stop on your own: Their colonies extend far under the ground and feature multiple queens. The safest and most effective solution is contacting your local pest management professionals.

Our management tactics at Allgood Pest Solutions feature several steps. First, we’ll inspect your property thoroughly to confirm that it is indeed a fire ant infestation you’re facing. Once confirmed, our ant control experts are likely to recommend using a bait or a gel. They act fast and start eliminating ants in just 72 hours. We’ll then come back to check on your infestation and re-apply treatments as necessary.

The Best Way to Deal with Fire Ants

Fire ants live up to their name, spreading fast (like a fire) in our region with the right conditions. They’re a species that you don’t want to mess with because of their stings, and at Allgood, we’re specially trained to eradicate this harmful ant in Atlanta, GA and other areas of Georgia. Our fire ant control – like all of our ant control services – comes with the peace of mind that your family and pets will remain safe. Trust in the professionals to get rid of fire ants in full; contact us today.

Tags: ant control in ga  |  fire ant prevention  |  fire ants