Have you ever been out on a lawn, maybe even your lawn, and suddenly felt a sting on your pinky toe??  Chances are, you’ve just been a victim of the red imported fire ant.  (We’ll refer to them as just fire ants from here.)

The only good quality about these ants is that they are usually easy to spot throughout the yard, because they will make visible mounds.  Their presence in lawns, parks, cemeteries, athletic fields, and similar areas brings them into direct conflict with people, where their aggressive stinging behavior makes it intolerable in most situations.  When mounds of this species are disturbed, workers appear to boil or swarm out of the ground in very aggressive defensive behavior.  They will sting any intruder repeatedly.

How big are their colonies?

  • Large colonies can have up to 300,000 to 500,000 workers that forage over an area with a radius of more than 100 yards.  (That’s the size of a football field!)

Any more scary characteristics?

  • Yes.  Fire ants are both predators and scavengers, attacking and killing other insects and small animals, or feeding on dead animals.

Other feeding habits

  • They also feed on honeydew, certain parts of plants or plant secretions, and other sweet materials.

Other nesting habits

Besides making mounds right in your front yard, by the mail box (dogs aren’t the only animals that don’t like mailmen), these pests will nest inside homes (which often have access to bare soil through the slab, under the tub), next to hot water heaters, or near other sources of warmth.  Colonies have even been found nesting and foraging on the upper floors of hospitals or other such buildings.  Gross.

STOMP them out!

If you have fire ants anywhere in your yard, the time for treatment was last week.  The longer you wait to take them out, the more time they have to multiply.