A fire ant infestation is a perfect way to ruin a relaxing time in your yard, isn’t it? That is what we wish to help you avoid. We will equip you with the information you need to ensure these nuisance insects and their stings don’t cause serious medical problems. In case you haven’t heard about fire ants, don’t underestimate them.
Fire ants are common in the deep south, in places like Florida and Texas. But are there fire ants in Tennessee?
Yes, there are fire ants present in Tennessee, so watch out!
Fire ants are divided into three main types of species, which are:
- The black fire ant (Solenopsis Richteri Forel)
- The red fire ant (Solenopsis Invicta Buren)
- A hybrid of the two
They not only can swarm unexpectedly, but they can also be aggressive and sting. For most people, their stings cause at least discomfort, but the ants can also be quite dangerous for those who are allergic (that includes this author!).
Fire Ants 101
Fire ants’ ability to sting and bite earned them their moniker. In Tennessee, fire ants are a widespread invasive species. They are best known for the huge mound nests they build. These nests are large and flat, with a unique shape.
The ants make their nests in the ground next to buildings or in flower beds. It is important to avoid disturbing their nests if you come across them. If you bother the nest, the ants will be more aggressive and likely to sting you.
The fact that fire ants attack their threat in large numbers is frightening. You can get several ant stings at once if a fire ant colony perceives you as a threat. In that case, a colony of 100,000 to 500,000 ants will attack you.
You can get several ant stings at once if a fire ant colony perceives you as a threat.
Burning welts appear on the skin as a result of fire ant stings. Other than being very uncomfortable, the bites can be harmful to those who are allergic to insect stings.
You may be allergic if you react to a fire ant sting by sweating, nausea, hives, scratching yourself, or having trouble breathing. In the same way that some people are allergic to bees or other stinging insects, some are also allergic to fire ants.
Be vigilant for these signs and seek medical attention immediately if attacked.
What Do Fire Ants Look Like?
Like other species of ants, fire ants belong to territorial colonies. A colony comprises queens, workers, soldiers, and males. To understand the fire ants, here is a summary of their appearance.
The red fire ant is bigger than the usual ants you would encounter. The typical red fire ants found in Tennessee are burnt red with a dark, almost black rear. The bodies of these ants also have six segments.
The stinger is, of course, a prominent feature of fire ants.
Do Fire Ants Live in Tennessee? Where?
Fire ants generally live outside. However, in Tennessee, it can get cold at times. Fire ants can’t survive very cold temperatures outdoors, but they can live deep underground or inside, in heated environments. This is how they survive in cool climates like those found in Massachusetts.
Fire ants generally live outside.
Worker ants go through underground tunnels that extend out from the mound and then onto the soil surface in search of adjacent food sources. What begins as a search for food or dry ground ends up bringing them much closer to people.
Do Fire Ants Cause Harm?
Fire ants sting their victims with venom by way of a stinger on their abdomen. They do a combination of “bite” with their mandibles and “sting” with their stinger. The discomfort is comparable to that experienced after getting burned.
A fire ant bite can, on rare occasions, cause a severe allergic reaction that may be fatal.
Fire ants sting their victims with venom by way of a stinger. They do a combination of “bite” with their mandibles and “sting” with their stinger.
They consume young plants and have a history of destroying crops. Tractors and lawnmowers may become infested with fire ants because they get attracted to electrical machinery. Fire ants can eat through insulation and electrical cables if they get inside.
How Do You Get a Fire Ant Infestation?
Fire ants can move to new nesting locations in various ways, accidentally and spontaneously. They can be in your car or brought to your yard on fresh plants from a nursery.
For instance, mated queens will fly to a new location to build a nest and establish a colony.
Some fire ants will branch off from a huge colony with a new queen to create their own colony, or they will leave the area if the colony gets disturbed. Your front or back yard is a good place for fire ants to nest because they like to build their nests in damp, open spaces.
How Can You Identify a Fire Ant Infestation?
Fire ants inhabit electrical boxes or live near them in their mounds. Mounds often appear far from structures, yet they can also arise close to building foundations.
Because of their rapid growth, you might not notice an infestation until thousands have already encroached upon your property.
Potential Hazards of Fire Ants
Due to their painful sting, fire ants are much more harmful than many other common species of ants. Fire ants grip the skin with their mandibles while injecting a lethal alkaloid venom, unlike other ants that bite and spray acid over the wound.
This feeling is like the burns of fire in healthy people. The bites themselves can be fatal for those sensitive to venom. Due to their high level of aggression, fire ants will attack almost any perceived threat.
Aside from harming people, fire ants can also impact bugs and small animal populations by consuming their offspring. In agricultural settings, they may feed on crops or create mounds that harm the crops. Many resources get spent annually on fire ant-related damage, medical care, and control.
Fire ants are invasive species in the United States, and aren’t just a problem for humans!
Ways to Control Fire Ants
While getting help from a pest control professional is ideal, these methods of controlling fire ants will be resourceful to you. They include:
1. Bait treatment
This kind of treatment makes use of an alluring chemical that ants enjoy eating. Unfortunately, baits are not always eaten, and their allure fades. Since you cannot control the ants’ dose, the bait must be slow-acting and effective over various doses.
Some native ant species competing with fire ants may also get trapped and killed by baits.
2. Surface treatment
This method is the least eco-friendly because the treated surface retains its harmful properties for a long period. The ants might hunt underground to stay alive.
3. Individual mound treatment.
This method entails dousing the queen with a significant amount of insecticide. It’s expensive and more time-consuming than other treatment alternatives. On top of that, finding all the colonies in a given area is practically impossible.
It is also challenging to work with enormous volumes of liquid. A colony could move or divide into many colonies if not thoroughly destroyed.