Fire ants are well-known in the southern United States for their fierce burning sting and the nests that they build. Anyone that was experience the sting of a fire ant does not want to experience it again. These small red ants are notorious for causing severe pain. Here are five interesting facts about fire ants.
1. Fire Ants Are Not Native to North America
Fire ants are not native to North America. They were brought to the area by boat from South America. The first state with reported issues was Alabama in the 1930s. They have proved quite invasive as they have spread throughout the southern United States. They have been identified in 18 states including as far north as Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.
2. Fire Ants Like Electrical Equipment
Fire ants are the leading cause of electrical equipment. They are known to crawl into air conditioners, and other electrical items like traffic lights. When shocked by a wire, they will sting the wire and emit a chemical that will attract other ants and eventually it shorts out the equipment they have invaded. According to Wikipedia, fire ants are the leading cause of stop lights shorting out in Texas each year.
3. Fire Ants Nests Spread Out
Fire ant mounds are typically about 18 inches high and may be as big as 30 inches wide. However, the mound itself is not a good indication of how big the colony really is. The ants will enter through tunnels that can be up to 25 feet away from the nest itself. The colonies can have as many as 250,000 ants in each one.
4. Fire Ants Can Hunt and Kill Small Animals
Fire ants are omnivores which means they will eat both plants and animals. They have been known to work together to kill small animals as a source of food for their colony. When they sting they will emit a chemical that attracts other ants from the colony who will also sting. This can overwhelm a small animal.
5. Fire Ants Can Cause Allergic Reactions
Although most people just receive an itchy sting or bite, some people are allergic to red ant bites. The symptoms are similar to those of people who allergic to bee stings. If you are dizzy, having trouble breathing or your tongue is swelling, you should seek immediate medical attention.
If you have fire ants you should treat them immediately. However, since they have such large nests and tunneling systems, it can be difficult to kill off the entire colony with products from the store. It is best to contact a professional to help you treat the fire ants that you have on your property. Learn more about fire ant extermination services from EcoTek Termite and Pest Control