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Fire Ants! Recognizing and Protecting Against Fire Ants


Fire ants, also known as red imported fire ants (RIFA), are a common insect encounter in South Carolina. While the ants can vary in color throughout their lifecycle, the red color of the upper segments of the body is distinctive, as are the mounds they build. A fire ant mound looks like a pile of crumbly earth and can be anywhere from a couple inches to ten inches tall or more, depending on the age of the colony. Fire ants will attack in aggressive swarms from even minor disturbance and their venomous stings can be just as dangerous for some people as bee and wasp stings.

Are Fire Ants a Serious Concern?
Yes. The fire ants generally found in yards, gardens and other areas that could be near homes and buildings are an invasive species from South America. They were first discovered in the U.S. in Alabama in the 1930s and have since spread to at least 15 states. Fire ants are found in every single county in South Carolina. Their characteristic aggression and swarming behavior along with the venom of their sting make them particularly dangerous to children, pets and anyone who has displayed previous allergy symptoms to other insect stings. Fire ants bite with their jaws to steady themselves while they sting repeatedly with the stinger on the rear segment of their bodies.

With each ant in a swarm able to deliver multiple venomous stings, anyone who has been attacked by fire ants should be closely monitored for signs of a serious reaction, such as swelling of the face, tongue or throat, trouble breathing, chest pain, hives, nausea, dizziness or excessive sweating. These symptoms are signs of anaphylaxis and can be life-threatening without emergency treatment.

Protecting Against Fire Ants
First, if you suspect you have a fire ant colony on your property, it’s important to call for help from pest control professionals. Do-it-yourself solutions to fire ant infestations are not advised. A single colony can have as many as 250,000 ants. Professional pest control technicians have the proper training to determine potential age and size of a fire ant colony and the best options to remedy the infestation. If the fire ant mound is close enough to a home or building, they will infest the structure as well. There are a few things you can do to try to protect against fire ants.

  • Seal any gaps around windows or doors/door frames that could provide an entrance.
  • Eliminate any outdoor leaks or standing water near your home or other structures.
  • Keep trash containers tightly sealed to avoid attracting ants or other pests.
  • When outdoors or working in the yard, avoid wearing colorful prints that are floral-like, avoid wearing dark colors and don’t wear sweet or floral-scented perfumes.
  • When dining outside, keep all food covered tightly until ready to eat and clean up plates and leftovers right away to avoid luring ants to your home.

If you find evidence of a potential fire ant colony in your yard or near your home or building, don’t delay in calling in the professionals at The Pest Force. Fire ants are dangerous to children, pets and allergic adults. Delays allow the colony to grow larger and harder to remedy. Our professional technicians are just a phone call away to keep you and your family safe.