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How To Identify, Prevent, And Treat Fire Ants

Learn how to identify, treat, and prevent these invasive ants in your yard.

May 11, 2017

Fire ants are a nuisance throughout much of the southern portion of the United States. Fire ants are not native to the U.S. and like many foreign species were mistakenly transported here with a shipment that arrived in port in Alabama in the 1930’s.

Fire ants have since spread to several states throughout the south, as far west as California and as far north as Virginia and Maryland. In North Carolina, fire ants are prevalent and can cause painful interruptions to outdoor fun. The insects have swarming behavior and deliver painful stings.

The below map was provided by the USDA and shows in red, where fire ants have been identified.

USDA Fire Ant Map
Fire ant distribution in the United States

How can you identify fire ants?

Fire ants are reddish brown in color and typically found in swarms around their mounds. Homeowners will commonly see these mounds around trees, in mulch areas, or in between paved areas and grass. However, it is not at all uncommon to find mounds within the lawn itself, particularly if the area receives a lot of sun.

Fire ants are very aggressive and therefore their mounds should be avoided. Bites are painful, and although it is rare, can cause serious allergic reactions – similar to bee stings. Because fire ants are found in colonies, several bites can occur at one time, particularly if a mound has been disrupted.

How can you prevent fire ants?

Like other insects, preventative treatments can be performed in order to lower the instance of fire ant infestation around your property. Preventing fire ants is easier than eradicating colonies once they have formed. Fire ant prevention is done by sprinkling bait throughout areas that may be appealing to fire ants. This should be done in the spring and then again in the fall. The application should be performed by a qualified professional, although many pesticides that are effective on fire ants are available for purchase by the public as well. If you plan to perform preventative measures yourself, it is important that you read the instructions for safe application.

How do you treat fire ants once mounds have been established?

How To Identify Treat and Prevent Fire Ants Canopy Lawn Care
Typical fire ant mound construction

If you discover fire ant mounds in your yard, they can be treated with a similar approach to prevention. A granular pesticide bait can be sprinkled directly on the mound, however, mounds should be approached with caution to prevent bites. Mound treatment may require multiple applications before eradication can be ensured.

At Canopy Lawn Care, we offer fire ant treatment as an add-on service for our recurring visit customers. This includes customers who receive fertilization & weed control, mosquito service, regular lawn maintenance or full-service lawn care. If you are concerned that you have fire ants in your yard, please do not hesitate to contact us!

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