Fire Ants in Jacksonville
If you’ve ever been bitten by a fire ant, you’re probably already convinced that they are a pest. But fire ants can cause more damage than most people think. They cost Americans around $6 billion a year in control products, including pesticides. They cause millions of dollars in damage to lawns, structures, and equipment. Their painful bites injure humans, domestic animals, and livestock every year. 14 million people in America are bitten by fire ants each year, and allergic reactions to the bites can be fatal.
Not all species of ants are pests. Most ants are beneficial to the environment. But fire ants must be controlled. There are several different ways to identify, prevent, and get rid of them.
Identifying Fire Ants
Fire Ants can be black, but most in Jacksonville, Florida are red or brownish, or variations of both colors. You can tell they are different from other ants by the two small nodes on the thinnest part of their thorax. They also have different antennas, with a club like attachment on the ends.
Seeing even just one or two fire ants means there may be a colony nearby. You can also look for evidence of their colony. They build mounds, usually just a few inches tall, but sometimes up to 18 inches high. The mounds look like piles of freshly dug dirt. Unlike other ants, they do not build central entrance holes on top. Instead, they enter and leave the mound through underground tunnels that are usually not visible.
Preventing and Getting Rid of Fire Ants
Fire ants cannot be completely eliminated; however, there are different control methods that can be used to kill them:
- Biological control – such as parasitic nematodes and parasitic decapitating flies. These have not proven to offer very good control in the United States.
- Home remedies – such as drenching ant mounds with boiling water, gasoline, diesel fuel and many other products. These may or may not work and can be dangerous.
- Chemical control –There are insecticides in various forms, such as baits, liquids, dusts, with various active ingredients and which affect ants in different ways.
If you’ve found fire ants or mounds near your home, the best way to get rid of them is by using chemical control. There are two main types of chemical control:
- Broadcast method – this means spreading an insecticide over the surface of the ground. They are usually granules that are poisonous bait that worker ants carry back to the mound. The broadcast method only works when the ants are actively foraging. There are different products marketed as fire ant bait, and must be used according to their label as they contain harmful chemicals. Some are intended for fast action that last for a short while, and some are intended to take a while to act, but last longer.
- Individual Mound Control – this means using a product directly on fire ant mounds. Usually a liquid, powder, or granules, it is poured onto an ant mound and contains poison that kills the fire ants. Again, there are many different kinds of individual mound control products for use in different situations, including organic and natural methods for gardens.
The best way to ensure that you get rid of fire ants is by using a combination of both methods, yearly. Applying a broadcast bait regularly will help with prevention, while individual mound control will get rid of any colonies that do pop up. Each yard or garden needs different products and Bug Evictors can assess which products will work best for you to keep your living area free of fire ants.