Fire ants are believed to have entered the US through shipping ports in Alabama, possibly in material used as ships ballast. They have spread rapidly and efforts to eradicate them have not been very successful.
These are very aggressive little critters. If you disturb a mound you are likely to be attacked by numerous ants.
The bites are itchy and painful at the same time, and usually form a white pustule about a day after being bitten. Bites can easily become infected and leave scars. Fire ants sting repeatedly, even after their venom sacks are empty.
Fire ants are a danger to wild and domestic animals. Animals that nest on the ground have seen a reduction in their population in some areas – they will viciously attack and have been known to kill young goats and other animals as well as turtle, snake and bird eggs. They will also damage/kill young plants and saplings.
Children need to be watched in areas infested with fire ants as they can and will attack. A person can have dozens or more fire ants on them before they realize it. As with any sting or bite, some people may be allergic to them which is another danger to be aware of.
Fire ants have been seen traveling across bodies of water using the bodies of their own kind as a kind of floating island. They also seem to be attracted to electrical currrents and have been known to cause damage to pumps, heating systems and so on. There have been reports of fire ants infesting cars as well.
Be aware that you don’t have to disturb a mound to be attacked. Often they can be found working an area with no mound in site and will attack. If you have nut trees, for example pecan, they love the nuts. If a nut is cracked they dig right in. Pick that nut up and they will spill out of it and sting you badly.
I’ve tried a lot of things to get rid of them, none being very successful, and the things that work tend to be rather expensive. Orthene 75S, purchased from a feed and seed store has worked best. Versions of it can be purchased elsewhere, but I found buying the larger cans a little more cost effective. Pesticides can be dangerous – apply on windless days, and keep children and pets away from the treated areas. You may want to check with your agricultural department for suggestions on controlling these and other pests.
While these evil ants are found mostly in the southeastern US, colonies have been found elsewhere – they travel. If you live in an area not currently infested, be vigilant and do what you can to eradicate them before
they spread further.