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What Are Red Imported Fire Ants?

Red imported fire ants (RIFA) can sweep through your home or outdoor picnic like a fiery blaze. The little pests swarm areas in no time. Without proper control, you will have a hard time getting rid of them, and the stinging bugs will leave their mark on you and your family in their wake.

How Did Red Imported Fire Ants Get to the US?

RIFA aren’t native to the US. They were first brought to the U.S. back in the first part of the 20th Century – between 1930s and mid-1940s. They now infest the Southern parts of the U.S., from California to Florida and as high up as Maryland. RIFA colonies have infested nearly 300 million acres in the southernmost states. Texas is one of the hardest-hit areas. The warmer the weather, the better RIFA colonies thrive. 

ants on the ground

How Many Fire Ants Are in a Colony? 

Fire ants colonize in numbers as high as 100,000 to 500,000 fire ants. The queen can lay nearly 5,000 eggs per day. These ants live together in elaborate nests without a discernable entrance. The ants build complex tunnels underground.

What Does a Fire Ant Mound Look Like 

A surefire sign you have fire ants is finding their mounds outside your home. The circumference of the RIFA mound is slightly larger than the size of a standard dinner plate. The mound will have the appearance of a tilled area. This is because the mound is created from excavated soil from the subterranean tunnels under the ground. The mound looks like a small mountain that can be as small as 4 inches to a heap that stands 2 feet tall.

RIFA nests can be found in any yard or property in Texas. If the land or area has few natural enemies, the more nests that can arise and the bigger they become. Ants will continue to nest and grow and there is very little you can do to prevent or control it on your own.

What Do Fire Ants Look Like? 

The name is a good clue. The red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) is a small reddish-brown ant. The abdomen on the fire ant is usually darker than the rest of the body. RIFA are small ants that are only about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch long.

What Do Fire Ants Eat?

If it can be consumed, fire ants will eat it. Red imported fire ants compete with anything around them for food.  They have the power to eliminate native fire ant species and natural prey for other predators. These ants are powerful enough to consume small mammals such as calves and deer, small birds, and rodents. They will also feed on plant nectar, crops, and pollinators, which can decimate an entire area of native plant species and agriculture.

Red imported fire ants also like what you are serving in your home and at your picnic table. Fire ants that gain access to your home will consume your food, eating just about anything they can find. The smallest juice spill can attract fire ants to your home. They will also enter cribs to get to bottle spills and invade your bed to consume crumbs. When you are outside, food and drinks that are not covered can become overwhelmed with fire ants. Even if you do have your food stored in containers, the remnants on the outside will attract these aggressive feeders.

Are Red Imported Fire Ants Dangerous?

Yes. Absolutely RIFA are dangerous. What makes fire ants especially dangerous is that they are pervasive in Texas. There are more than ever before. Fire ants ants are highly aggressive, and they use the venom in their sting to get their way. When a red imported fire ant stings a person, it can cause a host of health concerns. And one sting is rare, as these predators travel in packs. 

Do Fire Ants Bite or Sting?

Both. Fire ants can bite and then follow it up with a sting. When the red fire ant stings, it releases toxins into the body. These toxins cause intense itching that lasts at least an hour. The sting will leave a blister on the skin. If the blister is broken from scratching or pinching, infection can set in.

It is also possible that people with allergies to ant bites can suffer serious complications if bitten by a red imported fire ant. The toxins released into the body from the red fire ant can cause people with an allergy to go into anaphylactic shock, so it’s important to be cautious about these ants.

How Does Innovative Pest Control Exterminate Fire Ants?

You cannot tackle red imported fire ants on your own. They are far too aggressive, they burrow underground, and their numbers are too high for any DIY vinegar solution to effectively resolve the problem. You must seek professional help. Innovative Pest Control has a seasonal fire ant control program that eliminates fire ants in Tyler and throughout East Texas. We guarantee that our services will eliminate fire ants and get rid of them for good.

How to Prevent Fire Ants 

Preventing fire ants is difficult. Once they show up, they won’t leave without professional extermination. What you can do is prevent stings to your pets and family members. Here are a few tips to prevent fire ant stings:

  • Do not disturb or stand in a fire ant mound.
  • Cover all food and drinks when outside.
  • Use a spray or bait around areas outside to prevent ants from invading.
  • Warn visitors and keep kids away from them.
  • Warn your neighbors about the infestation so they can protect their property.
  • Contact the professionals at Innovative Pest Control for professional fire ant control in East Texas.

Innovative Pest Control has the expertise and experience necessary to protect your friends, family, and property from these dangerous pests.

Get Started Today For a Pest-Free Tomorrow

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