Knowing what pests are likely to set down roots in your neighborhood can greatly help you prevent an infestation. Like all ant species, the fire ant has its preferences when it comes to where it wants to live. While fire ants are common in certain parts of the country, other areas won’t have to worry about these fiery pests. Check out if fire ants could be hiding out in your backyard.
Fire Ant 101
Fire ants are known for their painful stings. These ants range in size from 1.6-5mm. There are two groups of fire ants—imported and native. Imported fire ants, including the red and black fire ant, were accidentally introduced to the United States. Both species are aggressive. The main difference between these species is their coloring. Red imported fire ants are red while black imported fire ants have a dark brown or black body.
There are a few species of native fire ants in the United States including southern fire ants and desert fire ants. Native species will sting, but they’re not as aggressive as imported fire ants. They have a brown body with a reddish-hue. While these fire ants can pop up, red imported fire ants are the most common invader.
Where Do Fire Ants Live?
Fire ants prefer climates that are warm and sunny. They do their best to avoid shaded areas. These ants build irregular-shaped nests in soil. They are often found near trees, structures, or under objects in your yard. While most ant nests have an opening on the top of the mound, fire ant nests don’t. Instead, fire ants enter and exit the nest through underground tunnels.
What States Have Fire Ants?
Red imported fire ants are mostly found in southern states, but they have spread further north. Check out which states have had confirmed cases of these fire ants.
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- Texas Virginia
These states are known to have infestations and stable populations of fire ants. However, fire ants have also been spotted in other states. The following states have had sporadic sightings of fire ants.
How to Prevent Fire Ants
Fire ants can be tricky to get rid of, so preventing them is always the best option. Here are a few tips for keeping these pesky ants out of your yard and home.
- Seal Entry Points: If your home has any cracks or gaps, torn window or door screens, or gaps under doors or near the foundation of your home, you’ll want to repair them.
- Maintain Yard: Mow your lawn and trim plants regularly. Fire ants like to build nests under objects in your yard so remove leaves, wood, and other yard debris.
- Eliminate Food & Water: Ants are always on the hunt for food and moisture. Limit their access to food by keeping food in sealed containers and cleaning up crumbs and spills. Make sure you don’t have any moisture build-up in your home and yard.
How to Get Rid of Fire Ants
If fire ants are giving you a fit, you’ll want to use caution when trying to eliminate them. Red imported fire ants are known to attack in groups and their stings can leave you with painful, itchy bumps. Check out a few tips for getting rid of these ants.
- Use a Bait Labeled for Fire Ants: Baits are designed to allow worker ants to share the bait with other members of the colony. This helps ensure that the entire colony will be eliminated. Before picking out a bait, make sure it’s specifically labeled for fire ants.
- Timing Matters: It’s best to set out baits when ants are actively foraging. This will increase the likelihood of them eating the bait. Early morning and late evening are good times to set it out.
- Know Your Limits: Fire ants can be difficult to get rid of and they can pose a threat to you. If you don’t feel comfortable handling it yourself, or you know you’re allergic to their sting, contact a local pest management professional to help.
Stinging ants are never something you want marching into your home. Taking the necessary precautions can help deter these pests from hanging out on your property. If you’re dealing with a pest problem, we want to help! Check out our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective™ Pest Control products for a more environmentally and family-friendly solution.