We can all agree that nothing stings like the fiery bite of a fire ant.
The fire ant bite is extremely itchy and can persist for several days. Unfortunately, both people and animals can also experience nasty allergic reactions and severe infections that lead to more complicated issues.
If you live in Port St. Lucie, Florida, you are probably no stranger to annoying fire ants. So, many Floridians must learn some key facts and prevention tips that can help you live among these aggressive pests.
We'll review the different types of fire ants and their colonies, why these fiery pests love invading your yard, and some prevention tips on how to keep them away.
Types Of Fire Ants in Port St. Lucie, FL
There are several species of fire ants in the genus Solenopsis, but the red imported fire ants (RIFA) are the most common and aggressive.
Fire ants have a dark red color with an even darker red abdomen. However, male fire ants tend to have more black color than red. A distinct feature of the red imported fire ants is bent forward antennas.
Black imported fire ants are a subspecies of the Solenopsis genus. They are now recognized as their own species, although there can be hybrids between them.
A fire ant colony will most likely have only one queen.
Fire ant queens have the largest body of all ants with a dark red color. They are primarily responsible for breeding new fire ants. Young ant queens have wings, but they usually cut them off after mating because they stay in their nests after successful insemination.
They can live up to seven years and lay 1,600 eggs per day. That's a lot of eggs in one day. So now you can begin to understand the real issue here!
Male Fire Ants
Male fire ants are much smaller than queen ants, and they are also referred to as drones. After mating with the queen, they are expelled from the ant colony and die.
Worker Fire Ants
Worker fire ants comprise the majority of fire ant colonies. They vary in size, where smaller worker ants take care of eggs, fly larvae, and clean the nest. Larger worker ants macerate food into pulp due to their large mandibles.
Fire Ant Colony Habitat
Fire ants are a problem in many Florida yards because of natural sunlight. Anywhere with an abundance of the sun is where fire ants like to build their colonies in the form of visible mounds.
Some common areas include:
areas with abundant sunlight
While it's easy to spot fire ants by finding their mounds, they prefer to live underground. Unfortunately, this means it could be months before you see a mound and before you realize you may have a fire ant issue.
Should I Be Worried About Fire Ants?
The short answer is yes. Fire ants are bold creatures not afraid to challenge anything, even humans. They are always on a mission to forage for food and bring it back to their nest.
The extensive colonies formed by these pests can create a vast network of tunnels and nests filled with ant workers and multiple queens. This is why it is a good idea to start thinking about professional pest control services as soon as you see new fire ant mounds pop up.
Plus, as most of us know, a fire ant bite is excruciating and can cause an allergic reaction for sensitive individuals.
Fire Ant Sting Symptoms
A sensitive individual can have a severe allergic reaction to fire ants such as:
severe chest pain
increased heart rate
serious swelling, redness, itchiness
death if not treated
If your symptoms don't improve within a few hours after the bite, you should seek medical attention.
As for animals, these stinging insects can also be fatal. That being said, most humans only experience mild symptoms.
If you are not allergic to this ant species, you should most likely have a mild irritation reaction. Initially, the sting causes an uncomfortable burning sensation (hence the fiery name), redness, and swelling.
Only less than 1% of fire ant bites result in anaphylaxis.
Why Fire Ants Invade Your Property
Now that we reviewed some important facts about fire ants, it's time to learn more about why they like to invade your Port St. Lucie property.
Most of the time, fire ants will invade a property looking for food and water. But these little pests will feed on almost anything that can serve as a protein source.
While they have a very flexible diet, some of their most popular choices include the following:
Fire ants will feed on small insects, caterpillars, termites, moths, other ant species or even grasshoppers, and other pests.
Sugar, Fruits, and Seeds
Apart from that, red ants also like to eat sugar, syrups, fruit, plant nectar, oil, and seeds.
Small Animals, Lizards, and Birds
And since they are pretty aggressive, they will also attack small lizards, quails, snakes, turtles, birds, and chickens.
You will often see carcasses of animals covered in thousands of fire ants with a nest inside.
4 Best Prevention Tips For Fire Ants
Fire ants are probably one of the most challenging pests to manage in Port St. Lucie. However, you can follow some essential prevention tips to help keep your property safe.
1. Cut Off The Food Source
A thriving fire ant colony needs a steady supply of food. So one of the most critical prevention tips is to make sure to keep your property free of any possible food supply.
Some easy tips include:
Keep trash sealed in containers away from your home
Periodically clean your trash cans with an ammonia solution
Don't leave trash outside on the ground, especially sugary items
Dispose of any ripe or rotten fruit that fell on the ground
2. Remove Areas of Water and Moisture
As we shared before, fire ants will invade your property if they find access to water or moisture. Some essential tips you can follow to deter fire ants include:
Rake mulch or other types of landscape bedding, so it's at least 6 feet away from your home. This creates a "dry zone."
Try to turn your mulch or landscape bedding every few weeks. This helps keep moisture levels down.
Keep up with mowing your grass.
3. No Place to Call Home
Another critical tip for fire ant prevention is ensuring you don't provide the tools fire ants need to create a home. Some advice to follow:
After mowing the grass, be sure to dispose of grass clippings.
Don't leave piles of leaves around your yard.
Avoid keeping stacks of wood around your home and property.
4. Routine Pest Control Treatment
Last but not least, consistent preventative maintenance from a professional pest control company is one of the best ways to control fire ants.
Combined with simple prevention methods you can do around your property, utilizing a pest control company like Southeast Florida Pest Control can help keep you and your family safe.
We've been tackling fire ants and other pests with eco-friendly techniques since 1993, so we know the best preventative measures and treatments.
So when you reach out, we'll conduct a thorough at-home inspection, identify the nests, and install the best baiting system to help eliminate your fire ant problem.
Also, based on your property, we'll provide expert advice on enhancing your simple preventative measures.
If you have a fire ant issue, please call us at 855-490-1987 or visit our website to schedule a free quote.