What are fire ants?

Fire ants are small insects that are famous for their dull red body and their ability to inflict a painful sting. They have a pair of antennae, a stinger, and six legs. Their body is segmented and has an oval shape. Fire ants are mainly found in the southern part of the United States and live in soil nests dug in open grounds or close to buildings. These insects use their sting as a defense mechanism when disturbed. While most people won't react severely to the sting, it might cause serious health problems to people who are allergic to insect bites. There are two types of fire ants: Red imported fire ants and Southern fire ants.

Close-up of ants

What kind of damage can fire ants cause?

These insects can cause a lot of damage if not controlled, hence the need to get rid of them! For instance, they might move into plantations, grass, or buildings and start building their nests in them, especially during the rainy season. If they invade your home, they can inflict serious injuries to vulnerable people like the elderly and children. The mounds that fire ants make on lawns and open fields might damage your mowing equipment and increase maintenance costs.

Interestingly, electric currents can attract fire ants. When fire ants notice a current, they might start making their nests in switches. This can be dangerous because it can lead to short-circuiting. A short circuit can cause a fire disaster that can be fatal or damage to electrical appliances such as transformers and telephone lines.

Fire ant hill in grass

How to get rid of fire ants

There are four practical ways that you can use to control fire ants. These methods include:

The use of insecticides

The use of insecticides is the most effective means of getting rid of any type of insects. Therefore, when planning to remove red ants from your home, you should first consider using insecticides. There are many insecticides that you can buy and use to kill the red ant. The method can be useful, although it cannot suppress an entire colony. This is because it is difficult to deliver the pesticide to where the ant's breeding occurs.

Some of the chemicals used in manufacturing insecticides can also have a corrosive effect, hence the need to wear protective clothing whenever you are spraying them. You should use this method for an extended period to ensure that you kill visible ants and drive others out of the area. It is vital to note, however, the success of this method can be thwarted if the ants migrate. The chemicals can also be washed away if there is rain or the surface is exposed to water during cleaning.

Dust application

Dust application involves the use of insecticides in the form of dust rather than a liquid. The difference is their effectiveness, because dust insecticides have a longer lasting effect. Using a dust application to control red ants will eliminate more of them as compared to using sprays. You can also increase the effectiveness of dust application by choosing insecticides that are waterproof since they cannot be easily washed away. Waterproof dust insecticides are also suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. If you cover the red ant nest with dust, you can easily kill the ants quickly and on top of this, it will act as an insect repellent for a longer period of time. Dust insecticides can be extremely useful when dealing with large colonies of insects.

Using bait to kill red ants

The use of baits can be effective when attempting to eradicate red ants. Although you will need to be patient when using bait, it's worth it because they can suppress a whole colony of red ants. The effectiveness of the use of bait in getting rid of red ants exceeds that of insecticides and dust, thus making it the best method. When using this method, you need to place significant chunks of bait strategically so that the ants can access it easily. When the ants come in contact with the baits, they carry a bite of it to their hives, and then expose the whole colony to the poison. This method makes it possible for the poison to travel to the deepest corners of the red ant’s nest, which will eventually end up killing the queen in the process. The method takes three to seven days to eliminate the ants, although its effects start within the first 48 hours. You can enhance the effectiveness of this method by regularly changing the bait.

Use of natural solutions

The natural approach is the least effective even though a significant number of people continue using it. This is because this is the safest approach, if you have small children or pets. Natural methods include homemade solutions that you can use to keep red ants at bay. These methods include the use of peppermint solution, a mixture of vinegar and lemon juice, and the use of cinnamon, which has a strong scent that can suffocate the ants.

In conclusion, fire ants are a menace in your home because they can sting you, your loved ones, and even damage the electric connections in your home. It is a good idea to use two or more methods to ensure you kill all the red ants regardless of how big the colony is. You should also be careful with any of the methods mentioned, as some are made from toxic chemicals and can be dangerous to family members.

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