Ant Identification & Prevention
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What are ants?
One of the smallest insects found in North America, ants are frequently found in the southern half of the United States. These pests are best known for building large underground colonies that house their young and creating "food trains" that extend from a food source to the colony's opening.
The most invasive and dangerous ant species in Texas is the red imported fire ant. Unlike other types of local ants, these insects were introduced into America from an entirely different country. These ants may appear dark brown or rusty red in appearance, with:
- A pair of clubbed and elbowed antennae
- Three sets of legs
- Bulbous abdomens that are a darker color than their thoraxes
Are ants dangerous?
Red imported fire ants (also known as RIFAs) cause a variety of problems around residential and commercial buildings. These issues range from financial to structural to physical and cost billions of dollars annually to control.
- Red imported fire ants may sting humans and pets with an alkaloid venom that creates painful red welts on patches of exposed skin.
- These ants are inexplicably attracted to machines that emit electrical impulses, causing fire hazards around HVAC units and other outdoor devices.
- Large fire ant mounds may press up against structures, sidewalks, and buildings, weakening them over time.
- The ants may invade patches of commercial farmland to eat fruiting crops, preventing successful harvests from occurring.
Why do I have an ant problem?
You may not have set out to attract red imported fire ants to your property, but if conditions are right, you may have driven them to your building by offering:
- A consistent source of food
- An adequate amount of water (puddles, air moisture, etc.)
- Overgrown plants and shrubbery
- Leftover food inside and outside the house
- Unturned compost piles
- Unsecured garbage bags
Fire ant colonies will send out scouts to look over and investigate the surrounding property, including your home. If they find what they are looking for, they may choose to settle down and infest full force.
Where will I find ants?
Look for red imported fire ant colonies around cracks in driveways, the edges of sidewalks, and around corners of patchy grass. Fire ant mounds are often extremely large and visible, with plenty of substrates piled around the openings.
You may also find fire ants scurrying in "food chain" lines that extend from their colony to a potential food source. The ants will carry any available food and water sources home to their colony as a team.
How do I get rid of ants?
Some ant prevention is quickly done and ensures the protection of your land and property for many years to come. However, the removal of an established red imported fire ant colony is much less straightforward. Approaching active nests is never recommended since their bites and stings could cause anaphylactic shock or severe swelling.
Getting rid of dangerous ant species such as RIFAs should start with professional fire ant control treatments from EcoArmor Pest Defense, the ant mitigation specialist you can count on. Contact us to learn more about how we can best serve you, or schedule an initial fire ant inspection in McKinney, TX.
How can I prevent ants in the future?
Try these tips for keeping red imported fire ant colonies far away from your lawn:
- Secure all trash and food items in their proper bins.
- Keep the yard well-maintained and moisture-free.
- Seal up household entry points (cracks, gaps, etc.) that could be letting fire ants get inside the home.
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