If you just moved down from “Up North” you might not be familiar with fire ants. But just about everyone else “down here” is. First, be careful where you stand. What appears to be a nice, fluffy mound of dirt can, in fact, be a nest of fire ants.
Secondly, what’s with the name? They’re named “Fire Ants” because the pain from hundreds of cumulative stings feels like your skin is being set on fire. Ouch! The stings from fire ants are quite annoying, each one usually developing into a tight pustule that itches and burns. Unlike a bee that loses its stinger, each fire ant worker can sting again and again until it is brushed away. Sometimes, the sting site can get infected, so treat each wound carefully with appropriate medications. Persons allergic to bee and wasp stings should carry doctor-prescribed medication in advance of being stung to prevent anaphylactic shock.
Winged female fire ants can fly into a yard and land anywhere on the ground to begin another nest. Within a month or two, colonies rapidly build to up to a quarter million ants or more per mound. That’s because each mound can harbor multiple queens that are all prolific egg layers. A well-known fire ant researcher estimates that there may be approximately 2.5 million tons of living fire ants in the Southeast! Areas of the yard where kids and pets roam should be regularly scouted and treated for fire ants.
Fire ants will often try and enter your home through tiny cracks and gaps in the foundation or under door plates to gain access behind baseboards and walls, eventually locating food items inside the home.