Enemy Number One – Georgia Fire Ants

I will never forget the time that I spent a few months living on a Georgia army base. Having lived in the northeast all my life, I was so tickled that it was in the 70s during the month of March, I took a blanket out to the backyard and laid in the sun. I was not accustomed to anything the region had to offer and simply put my blanket over the grass. I saw what appeared to be a mound of ants. No big deal, I thought, ants are harmless. Within the first ten minutes of relaxation, I felt a pinch and discover a red-colored ant on my toe.  A red-colored ant? Whoever heard of such a thing. Five minutes later, I felt a few more pinches.fire ant close up

Thankfully, I got up before any more stinging. Natives to Jonesboro and the surrounding areas here in Georgia have long known the wrath of the fire ant. They are tiny, but they pack a fierce punch. The bite of one of these red ants gave me whole new respect for creatures and a whole new fear. In this article, we dive into the world of the fire ant, how to identify them, the destruction they cause, how to prevent, and how to get rid of them once and for all.

The Danger of Fire Ants to Humans and Pets

The sting from one fire ant can cause pain and allergic reactions in some. They can be both incredibly dangerous and extremely damaging to your lawn. Every year, about ten Americans die from fire ant stings. Those at the highest risk are people whose allergies overreact to the venom, which can result in swelling of airways. Children and small animals are also at risk. Thankfully, I did not experience an allergic reaction, but I did think twice about laying on a blanket next to a fire ant mound again.

They will also attack both humans, pets, and other wildlife if mounds are disturbed. For most, a sting is not life-threatening. However, for very small, young, old, or pets with difficulty moving or other health-related problems, a multitude of stings could be fatal.

How to Identify a Fire Ant

Fire ants are not native to Georgia or even to the U.S. The type of fire ants that live here in the Jonesboro, Georgia, area originated from South America in the 1930s. Brought over on fruit trucks and ships, they became comfortable with our temperatures here in the south and have decided to make our home their home.

Fire ants are similar in appearance to other native ant species, so if you aren’t familiar with them, it’s easy to think they are of no concern. They are approximately 1/16 to 1/4 inch in length and can be red or black. They’re smaller than other ants but far more aggressive.

Types of Fire Ants in Georgia

Single Queen Colonies
There are two types of fire ants, the single queen, and the multiple queens. Single queen colonies tend to forage for food in a specified territory which they control. They are highly protective of their territory and will attack if their mound is disturbed. A single queen colony can contain 40 – 150 mounds inside one acre and contain up to seven million ants. Single queen colonies have one queen.

Multiple Queen Colonies
Multiple queen colonies have more than one queen and are not territorial. They create numerous mounds, hopping from one to the other. A multiple-queen colony may have over 200 mounds and 40 million ants.fire ant nest

Damage Fire Ants Cause to Your Georgia Lawn

Like most ants, they live underground. The biggest sign you have a fire ant problem is the appearance of mounds of soil pushed up throughout your lawn. Mounds vary in size but typically look like larger versions of the small ant hills you see from regular ants. Generally, the larger the mound, the more ants are living inside. They will nest in any soil type but prefer open, sunny areas such as meadows, pastures, parks, playgrounds, lawns, and golf courses. Having large mounds throughout your property is not only unattractive, but these nasty critters destroy your grass’s root structures, cause brown spots and make the surface of your grass uneven and tough to mow.

Fire Ant Control

While it may sound like an episode of Game of Thrones, an essential element when controlling fire ants is to kill the queen. Once she is dead, the ants will either die or move on to other colonies. If left alive, she can replace the ants you kill just as fast.

Mount Treatments/Baits
Found at most lawn and garden or home good stores, mound treatments usually come in the form of dust or a granule you apply or throw on top of the visible mounds. The poison is usually coated on grains that the ants will eat and deliver to the queen. This is one of the safest methods since you do not directly engage with the nest. It is not fast and doesn’t prevent any ants left alive from building a new mound. The dust/granules may lose their potency before the ants feed on them.

Insecticide
Chemical control of fire ants involves an insecticide injected into individual mounds or your entire landscape.  These products are slow-acting but longer-lasting. And remember, any time you apply an insecticide yourself, you risk killing other beneficial insects or damaging the area surrounding the mounds. 

Get the Fast and Safe Fire Ant Control From Your Friends at Duncan’s Lawn Care

The easiest, fastest and safest way to control, and eliminate fire ants, is through the help of a trained, certified professional. Duncan’s Green Team offers a safe, effective Fire Ant Control service. Our methods of controlling fire ants will give you back your yard. Usually, just one application of our fire ant treatment will rid your turf of fire ants and help control them for an entire year. Trust me. I assure you that you do not want to get stung by one of these evil monsters. Stay safe and allow Duncan’s Lawn Care to help. We offer a variety of other pest control services, including mosquito control, grub control, and flea and tick control. Give us a call at (770) 478-0098 or contact us here.

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