There are several proper names for these tiny ants, but the stings of these critters burn like fire, hence the name. The FDA estimates that in the United States more than $5 billion dollars is spent annually on medical treatment, damage and control in infected areas and more than $750 million in damage annually to agricultural assets, including veterinarian bills and livestock loss, as well as crop loss. There are over 280 species of these pesky ants worldwide, and it’s amazing that something so small can cause so much misery!
These ants will attack anything that disturbs their nest (mound). The sting of a fire ant develops into a blister-like sore very quickly. These can become sites of secondary infection. Severe reaction in hypersensitive individuals can occur, and they need to seek medical attention quickly. Individuals need to use insect repellents and spray it on their clothing and footwear when outdoors in Fire Ant Territory.
One last interesting fact: (especially to female readers). Roles played by fire ants:
- There’s the famous Queen. She may live 6 to 7 years, producing up to 1,500 eggs per day.
- Males – Mate with Queen and defend her when mound is attacked.
- WORKERS – Sterile female ants whose responsibilities include: build/repair nests, care for young, defend nest and feed both young and adult ants.
There are many chemicals used to kill fire ants. Other experts recommend using non-toxic methods. If you choose the chemical route, be sure to understand the side effects on other wildlife, i.e., birds. Some persons believe in using natural methods such as boiling water, dry ice, or lye, but if you try that process, you must understand exactly how to properly use them without injuring or burning yourself.