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Much like Carmen Miranda, fire ants first came to the U.S. from South America in the 1930's. They originally spread throughout 17 southern states, but eventually made it to California. Unlike Carmen Miranda, they are not very entertaining.
Fire ants are family-oriented. Which just goes to show, you can find a little good in even the worst of us. They live in communities made up of dome-shaped mounds of soil that are about 18 inches across and about 8 to 12 inches tall with small holes. They tend to build nests in open, sunlit, irrigated, grassy areas, but may also nest in rotten logs, walls of buildings, or under sidewalks.
Fire ants eat a high-protein diet. Or whatever's lying around. In that sense, they are true omnivores. They typically feed on seeds, insects, young tree bark, honeydew and other sweets, preferring oily meats and nuts. Red imported fire ants are particularly destructive to vegetation.
Typically, a colony will have 80,000, but up to 250,000 individuals can forage over an area with a radius of more than 100 yards. The lifespan of workers depends upon their size, 30 -180 days. Queens may live 2-6 years. Development from egg to adult takes an average of 38 days.
In a word – ouch. They are one of the worst ant pests in the U.S. in terms of human health, property damage, and environmental damages. They become agitated when nests are disturbed and can quickly climb onto the object or person causing the disturbance and begin stinging. Stings are a serious concern to people and pets. Venom injected into the skin causes a burning sensation.
A thorough inspection should be performed on exterior areas. Typically, this ant makes mounds around the nest opening but can also nest in logs, wall voids or electric supply boxes. This species has large colonies, deep nests, and are sensitive to control materials. Because of that, baits work well. Continuous monitoring is recommended and several applications may be necessary throughout the warmer seasons. Injection of liquid materials or dust formulations can be made to visible mounds, but they may fail due to depth of nesting sites. If this ant is found nesting in voids, injection of dust formulation will work. Contacting the insects with the material is essential to control. When using any pesticide, be sure it is registered for the target pest/location. Read the entire label prior to use. Follow all label directions, restrictions and precautions.
Antz – If I had kids, I wouldn't let them see it, but I'm biased.
A Bug's Life – Another misleading animated film seeking to convince children ants are cute. Beware.
Empire of the Ants – Back in the 70's, even ants were after Joan Collins.
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