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Blogs from November, 2016

Fire Ants

If you think that the coming colder weather means you won’t need the help of a pest exterminator, you should know that many North Texas bugs don’t go away just because there’s a nip in the air.  One of those bugs is the bane of every Texan’s existence – the fire ant.  If the ground freezes, you may not see much fire ant activity this winter; but since that’s likely to happen only once or twice, you can be sure that they’ll still be around, creating their little mounds of agony all over your yard.  Since fire ants are a year-round threat, here are some facts your pest exterminator wants you to know about them:

  • Fire ants, also known as red imported fire ants, came to the U.S. by boat from South America.  They made their first appearance in the United States in the port of Mobile, Alabama in the 1930s and from there spread to almost every southern state.
  • Fire ant survival depends partially on “aphid-ranching,” which means that they protect aphids from insect predators while collecting their favorite food, honeydew, which aphids produce.  Honeydew is a sugar-rich, sticky liquid secreted by aphids as they feed on plant sap.
  • Because the mounds we see are a continuation of the ants’ often vast tunnel system, there is not one exit/entrance hole on top.  There are several tunnel exits from the mound.
  • Fire ant tunnels are constructed to enhance air movement throughout the colony and have been found to a depth of 10 feet – these deeper tunnels are usually found in clay soil, like the kind we have here in North Texas.  Tunnels in sandy soil are shallower.
  • Drowning fire ant groups isn’t possible.  Fire ants can work together to form balls or rafts that can float on water.  Remember that the next time you stick your garden hose into a mound.
  • Fire ant queens can live for as long as seven years but average three.  Worker ants live four to six weeks.  The hotter the weather, the shorter their life spans.
  • Fire ants eat plant and animal material.  Their only requirement is that the food contains fat, protein or carbohydrates.
  • The presence of fire ant colonies has been shown to decrease other pest populations including ticks.  Unfortunately, they also decrease the populations of beneficial insects in the soil.
  • Adult fire ants are incapable of swallowing solid food.  They carry it back to the nest where larger larvae digest it and regurgitate it in liquid form.  The liquid form is then shared with the rest of the ants in the colony.
  • Fire ants spread by swarming.  Winged reproductive males and females leave the colony and mate in the air.  When these new queens land (yards or miles from where they started), they shed their wings and start a new colony.
  • Our home “remedies” for fire ants (orange peels, gasoline, bleach, hot water) rarely do more than kill a few ants.  Usually, they just cause the colony to move.  The only effective, long-lasting treatment is done by professional exterminators.

The war against fire ants isn’t winnable but with the help of the best pest exterminator in Frisco, TX, Bug Commander Pest Control, you can at least win the battles that take place in your yard.  Call us at Bug Commander Pest Control at (214) 307-1933.