Ballast stones, tanks and soil were a necessity in the 1900s to help heavy ships balance their weight and avoid capsizing. Unfortunately, transporting organic substances overseas is the primary means of introducing an invasive species into a foreign region. In the case of southern America, it’s likely that the soil used in ballasts transported two swarming, aggressive species known as solenopsis richteri and solenopsis invicta, the black and red imported fire ants.

Fire ants made their way from South America to Alabama in 1918 and from there they spread to Mississippi in the 1930s. To avoid country-wide domination, a Fire Ant Quarantine, spanning from Texas to South Carolina (and a rogue spot in California), was enacted to prevent the spread of these annoying, toothy critters. The Animal Plant Heath Quarantine Service works closely with states outside the boundaries testing new insecticides and other methods to prevent the spread of fire ants. There’s even a webinar advising those who need to ship hay across quarantine lines proper fire ant protocol.

The Dangers of Fire Ants

Fire ants are not inherently aggressive, meaning they will not go out of their way to sting humans. Unfortunately, because their homes are unavoidable, teaming, above-ground tumors, accidentally stumbling upon an angry ant hill is unavoidable during the spring and summer months. And true to their name, when these annoying pests feel threatened, they will inflict fiery stings full of alkaloid venom.

While a fire ant sting is not usually life-threatening, it is surprisingly painful considering the small size of the pinchers. A fire ant sting results in intense, sharp pain followed by stinging, burning and itching that can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

For those who are allergic to fire ant venom, the sting of a fire ant can result in a life-threatening anaphylaxis reaction. Anaphylaxis can be identified by itching, hives, the swelling of the tongue or throat, dizziness, nausea or diarrhea. If you are allergic, it’s advisable to wear closed toed shoes in the grass and to wear gloves while gardening.

Prevent Fire Ants

If your yard has already been infested by fire ants, you may be wondering why. Typically, fire ants are attracted to warm, sunny environments. A typical colony can contain several hundred thousand ants and usually one queen. The mounds of these colonies can grow up to 61 cm in diameter and 18 cm high. Thankfully, getting rid of the colonies is relatively easy if you hire the right professionals.

Call Orkin Today for a Free Quote!

Everyone deserves the chance to frolic, barefoot and unafraid, in their own yard during the warmer months. If you have a fire ant problem, call Orkin Pest Control so you can get your summer back on track!